Take one glance at the three dishes Jasmine Nadres submitted to the recently concluded Global Young Chefs Challenge South Pacific Region competition held on island, and it's clear the young gold medalist is headed for big things in life.
The competition falls under the umbrella of the Global Chef's Challenge Series, which is run by the World Association of Chefs Societies. Better known as “Worldchefs” in the culinary world, the international organization is dedicated to maintaining and improving the culinary standards of global cuisines.
It recently held its regional competition on Guam, where Nadres blew the other competitors out of the water with an amazing three-course meal.
Nadres' dishes sound like something you would order at a restaurant far too expensive for the average person – flounder & lobster mousse paired with local micro greens and dragon fruit with orange vinaigrette and cilantro oil; pan-seared veal tenderloin and sweetbreads served with sautéed fall vegetables, rustic butternut squash and split peas in a pan demi; and a pineapple and milk chocolate mousse with coconut gel, assorted fruit medley and macadamia nut brittle in an Earl Grey tea sauce.
Yet during her interview with The Guam Daily Post, she made a surprising admission: Even with nearly 10 years of being a kitchen pro, she still gets shakey in the knees.
“It was the most nerve-wracking competition I've ever done,” Nadres said, although we find that hard to believe. Nadres has the confident poise and quiet dignity that comes from earning the position she holds at Lotte Hotel Guam – at just 23, the ProStart and Guam Community College Culinary Academy alum is already a junior sous chef who manages the hotel's banquet kitchen.
‘One of the committed ones’
When she talks about food, it's clear her knowledge is rock-solid. Also, her resumé is a mile long. This latest achievement of hers – beating out young chef representatives from Fiji, Austrailia, New Zealand and the Cook Islands to take gold – is one of several, and is indicative of the work she's put into her career.
“I wasn't just a regular student,” the GCC class of 2016 alum tells the Post. “I was one of the committed ones.”
Indeed she was. Her stint in the Simon Sanchez High School ProStart kitchen was a door opener, which led her to an internship and employment with the Hyatt Regency Guam. While still in high school, the upstart ProStart ward was an on-call kitchen assistant at first, sharpening her knives and skills with real-life experience.
Nadres and her fellow Shark chefs took first place in back-to-back ProStart islandwide competitions in 2011 and 2012, which earned her trips to the National ProStart Culinary Invitational in the states. And right after graduation, she took no break whatsoever, jumping straight into GCC Culinary Academy during the summer session.
When asked what kept her hungry for success in the culinary world, Nadres said she's grinding now so she can be a boss later.
“I'm young but I'm not getting any younger. I want to knock everything, so then I can have time for myself later on. I don't want to be working as an executive chef in 10 years. I want to be able to open my restaurant. I want to be an owner.”
And if she does happen to be working as a chef in the future, she sees herself in a Michelin-rated dining establishment.
In the meantime, she's having a great time at Lotte, where she's worked since 2015. What she's been enjoying is the new direction she's taken under the mentorship of her fellow, more senior Lotte chefs.
Nadres says in her experience she's been allowed to implement her own kitchen standards as well as recipes and dishes.
“That's what's good about the Lotte, because they have a standard but they can adjust to what you want to put out,” Nadres tells the Post.
It's easy to find something inspirational about Nadres' accomplishment, vision and drive. But when it comes to Nadres, the people she finds inspiration in are her parents, Jesusa and Jose Nadres.
It was Jesusa's love for cooking Filipino staples like pinakbet, adobo and dinaguan that was the younger Nadres' first foray in the culinary world.
“My best inspiration is my parents; they cooked at home. The best cook in my life is my mom. Old-school Filipino dishes – she's got it all down.”
Eating at the dinner table was always something she looked forward to growing up. When both her parents were working while Jasmine Nadres was a teenager, dinner was the time the whole Nadres family could get together to forget about the day and just chat.
“That was our bonding moment as a family. My mom always said we can't go to bed with an empty stomach, so she was always there to provide that for us.”
Nothing beats Mom's cooking.
But even if she's now an award-winning junior sous chef, she still knows her mom's pinakbet is better than hers.
“She puts something in there that she don't tell any of us,” she says with a laugh.
The next time you're at La Seine, say hello to one of Guam's brightest young chefs.
ARTICLE REPRINTED FROM THE GUAM DAILY POST: https://www.postguam.com/entertainment/food/jasmine-nadres-lotte-s-golden-child/article_ae0c7f0c-b944-11e7-9995-4f87866947dd.html