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Yasmin Lozada-Hissom

My love for cooking began as a child in my family's kitchen. I grew up in Arequipa, the "White City" in the south of Peru. My grandmother and my mother provided me with my first culinary experiences. They stimulated and inspired my taste buds. I would perch on my small wooden stool, my eyes following the movement of the pots, the knives and pans, while the aroma of lamb and wood filled the kitchen. The meat was butchered right there, the birds cleaned, the farm fresh vegetables peeled, the color of their flesh revealed and then diced, cooked, transformed into the simple but flavorful dishes that I so much remember till this day.

On the weekends my dad would take us to the countryside surrounding Arequipa. He had the wisdom to balance living in a modern city with the kindness and honesty of the land. My brothers and I loved those weekends. We couldn't wait to get out of the car and if a cow was being milked we would crawl under her "ubres" and taste the warm and foamy liquid. Then I would climb a plum tree, my secret spot and perch on a comfortable limb, hold the fruit and smell the spiciness, biting on the sweetness, feeling the juices running down my arms.

I cannot think of a more inspirational place than Arequipa to become a chef. All my childhood recollections have aromas, flavors and textures.
When I told my grandmother I was going to cooking school to become a chef she burst out laughing. For her, cooking was a gift that couldn't be taught...an intuition stored in the senses."You have it already...it's here", she would say rubbing her fingertips together as she was seasoning an imaginary dish. At the time I was attending my last years of college, a fact that, I'm sure, added to her skepticism. I concluded my studies and then filled with anticipation left for Paris to attend Culinary School.

After that life took me to my greatest learning place, New York. I had the privilege to work with chefs such as Katy Sparks and Gary Robins which still now are a source of inspiration for me. Cooking in New York felt like a constant thrill...stimulating, challenging, rewarding. I've been in Denver for more than nine years now. It’s a pleasure to be at Duo, which is in my own neighborhood. It’s been a   fun experience that has brought me a great deal of satisfaction professionally.