ANDREA'S JOURNAL: Lead Hen in a Rooster's Coop

Some people like to climb the Himalayas or go white water rafting for thrills. I get my kicks by cooking for people. I absolutely love it. And no, it's not because of some maternal instinct in me, urging me to care for and nourish others.

It's the fast pace, the daily challenges and rush of excitement I get from being in the kitchen everyday. Watching someone take a bite of a dish we've prepared and seeing them smile, it's instant gratification...daily successes.

The restaurant world is male-driven. Most people are surprised to see me at the helm of Red Rooster's kitchen. I can't describe the number of times I get questioning looks whenever purveyors or repairmen are told that I'm in charge.

The stereotyping isn't new to me; I even find it within my own kitchen. Just last week, one cook took to calling me "Mama" while on the line. I dealt with him after service wrapped. It's my job to manage and educate my staff not only in cooking, but in professionalism.

Aside from these minor incidences, I'm thankful to work with such a supportive, diverse team of people. I don't like saying I run the kitchen, because chefs Jimmy and Mike do just as much as I do, not to mention Marcus.

My dreams of becoming a dancer were cut short due to an injury, and so I immediately transferred my passion for performing into cooking. I was fortunate enough to have begun my career under Amy Scherber of Amy's Breads, a female chef who revolutionized baking in New York City during the 90s.

Women like Amy, Lidia Bastianich, Ruth Reichl and Claudia Fleming paved the way for chefs and women in food like me, and I hope I'm doing the same for the young women and men working at Red Rooster today