We've been following Tucker (Lisa) Ricchio '04 very closely these past few months, and Chef Tucker has written in to keep us up to date:
Tucker writes, "I started out learning a love of food from my Italian grandparents. Food is love in our family and was always at the center point of gatherings. Food brought us together. I learned from my Grandfather how to care for the land and plants and when to harvest. Then in the kitchen, my Grandma would whip up beautiful yet simple Italian dishes. Despite growing up this way, I didn't really know I could be a professional Chef."
"I graduated university with a double bachelor's degree from Chico State in pre-nursing health sciences and Spanish. I was poised to get a Masters in Nursing from USF when I discovered Chef's Table on Netflix. I was watching Chef Crenn's episode and I was awestruck at her 3 Michelin star restaurant - the artistry and poetry and magic. I knew in that moment that I wanted to be a Chef. I saw something of myself in Chef Crenn."
"Representation matters. Sometimes, you don't know you until you see it. So I enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu and began my formal culinary training. I put the pedal to the metal when I graduated and eventually moved back home to the Bay Area and started working in Michelin kitchens, most notably, Acquerello."
"When the pandemic hit, it forced a lot of chefs to get creative... hospitality is not exactly a work from home kind of field. So I began teaching cooking classes online on a small start up platform called Truffle Shuffle. I had always wanted to be on a cooking show since I loved them since I was a kid, growing up watching Emeril and Julia Child and Gordon Ramsay. So the pandemic gave me the opportunity to apply and cross my fingers! I heard back from a couple, but was most interested in Next Level Chef, Gordon Ramsay's brand new show."
"I got selected to be on Season 2 and SPOILER ALERT - I WON! So now as I'm in my mentorship stage, I am still teaching online classes, but I have a lot of new projects I'm working on and really excited about. I am planning pop ups around the country - just completed one in San Francisco last week. Keep your eyes peeled for the next ones (and look for collabs with familiar chef faces too!) I'm also working on getting a cookbook started as well as doing demos and food events across the country. My goal is to be a celeb chef with my own show someday so the journey has only just started."
"In order to accomplish your goals, you have to be fearless, take chances, work your tail off, be prepared to fail and get doors slammed in your face. It's not how many times you fail, it's about how you get back up when you do."
"Being a female in a male dominated industry, you have to work even harder (everyone works hard) than the boys to prove yourself, day in and day out. Not many females are Exec Chefs in the Michelin world. Luckily I had some amazing female mentors along the way who, instead of kicking the ladder out from under them when they succeeded, they reached out to help me. That's a mentor."
"What this experience on NLC taught me was that you need to believe in yourself. Rise and grind everyday and work harder than everybody else. That's how you succeed. By never giving up and doing anything it takes. Now, I get to work closely with three badass Chefs for the next year to launch my career. It's exciting and rewarding and I cannot wait to share my journey, my food, and connect with people. Stay tuned for more Chef Tucker in the future!"
Keep up with Chef Tucker's adventures on instagram @ChefTuckerRicchio