Catching Up With Chef + Restaurateur, Carolina Santos-Neves
Carolina Santos-Neves is THAT GIRL who loves to support and collaborate with others rather than compete. As a chef and founding partner of two Latin-American inspired restaurants in New York, she loves to bring people together wherever she is; whether it’s in the kitchen, at the table, or at home. Carolina is also THAT GIRL who faced her self-doubts to pursue her passion. It took time to realize that she herself was one of her worst enemies, but she tackled the negativity in order to do what she loves and have fun doing it! #FanGirlFriday ✨ as told to Tashara Lewis
IATG: Why are you a badass?
Carolina: Because I’m fortunate enough that I’m getting the opportunity to do what I love to do. Truth of the matter is I’m here because so many people have helped me along the way. That being said, I think if you need help, ask for help. It may feel humbling, but that’s what makes us human. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help because you know that eventually you’re going to help out, too.
IATG: How did you became interested in food?
Carolina: I’m half Brazilian, my dad is from Brazil and my mom’s American. And growing up I had to travel quite a bit because my dad had a job that took us to a lot of different places. So food was immediately a big part of my life because, you know, you get to know a culture by eating their food. For example whenhere I lived in Mexico City, I got exposed to truly authentic Mexican food and all types of food, and that was incredibly eye opening and fun for me.
Then I moved to New York 14 years ago after graduating college knowing I wanted to do something in food. But before turning it into a profession I organized many a dinner parties at home where I got to cook and bring people from all different walks of life together. Eventually I wrote about food for a website called Epicurious for five years. Then I went on to be a part of a team that opened up two restaurants here in New York: One is called Cómodo, the other one is called Colonia Verde, and then a catering company called Comparti. I love collaborating with people, I love meeting new people, I love supporting people and their projects.
IATG: Is there an ingredient or recipe that describes your personality?
Carolina: I love brussel sprouts! I think a lot of people who may know me they’re like, “Oh, geez.” At one point my email changed to BrusselSproutsQueen, if that gives you an example of who I am.
IATG: Who is a girl you admire?
Carolina: There’s so many! I could say all the women in my life! There’s my coworker, Lauren; she’ll be given an assignment like, "make Chinese and Indian food," and she’ll like just figure it out by doing, it’s pretty cool to see. It’ll come out amazing and people are super happy and she does it with a great attitude.
I have my friend Hosanna who is my closest friend - she just is inspiring. She views the world in a very beautiful way and laughs a lot, is a super hard worker, and is kind, is always there to listen.
Another dear friend, Deepa, is a superwoman! She’s a mom, a doctor, a wife, it’s pretty incredible that she manages to do it all. Or there are the people who come into your life and you feel you’ve known them forever, like Noel. A total gem, and someone who has so much wisdom and is kind.
I’m very lucky that I have a lot of beautiful people in my life and I think that’s super important to surround yourself with positive energy. If someone is down, you have the ability to try and bring them up. There’s so many people I can name. It’s awesome to know people and be able to help them with their dream. I’m all about collaboration!
IATG: If you could tell every girl in the world one thing, what would it be?
Carolina: You can do whatever you wanna do. If you set your mind to it, there’s nothing holding you back. If anything it’s sometimes us holding ourselves back. But It takes time to figure that out. I’m 35 and I just figured that out. Be your best friend.
I think women are incredible and so capable and brilliant. If you are in a place where you can make a decision that makes you happy, then make the happy decision. Remember, it’s not allowing fear to take over. It’s saying to yourself, “It’s okay to make a mistake.” If I’m cooking something and it doesn’t come out amazing the first time, that’s okay. Try it a different way and remember to have fun and not be so hard on yourself.