Elizabeth Rivasplata had always wanted to be a chef, going all the way back to her childhood. Born and raised in Peru, she grew up in a culture that places a high emphasis on their food culture. The diversity of the ingredients in Peru is extensive with Peru’s many micro climates and of course the sea, all of which helped steer her into the Foodservice profession. She began her culinary journey by attending school in Lima, Peru in 1997 and graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 2015 to start her journey as a professional chef.Elizabeth Rivasplata headshot

Rivasplata worked her way up through the ranks to her current position as Vice President Operations at Pumpernickels. Over her career, Elizabeth curated high end treats at the Art Gallery of Ontario and was the Executive Chef with FAB Concepts. She developed her strategic acumen as the Development Chef with Browns Hospitality Group and got her ‘Black Belt’ in operations as the Executive Chef at the Rogers Centre.

“When you have six kitchens that produce the food for all the restaurants and another one that produces all the items for the concessions, you’re talking about a million different moving parts. That helped develop my skills for the position I am in today. At Pumpernickels we have different sized operations. It takes a lot of logistical planning and attention to make sure that everything happens, when it needs to happen, how it’s supposed to happen.”

“The different roles I had were valuable and helped me to develop the rounded skills necessary to allow me to manage the operations at Pumpernickels. Be it marketing, menu development, costing, customer service, people management etc., all come into play in this role.”

When Rivasplata was asked about the challenges of working her way up through the ranks in the Foodservice industry she responded, “We all know it can be challenging at the beginning. There were times when I questioned myself.… however, I have had the opportunity to work with great people. Sure, there have been some issues along the way but I expect that goes with any profession. For the majority of my career, I have had an amazing experience with both men and women leaders being respectful and supportive of me and my career. It’s a long journey, but I’m grateful to be where I am now.”

Foodbuy asked Rivasplata about someone who she felt inspired her along the way. “A lot of women have inspired me across my career. I learned about the care that they put into what they do and what has to be done day-to-day.” Rivasplata gave a special nod to Anne Yarymowich the Executive Chef at the Art Gallery of Ontario from 1996 to 2013. “She was a force in the industry. I felt I had a lot of pride in what I did, but I realized while working with her, that she was at a completely different level. She really pushed that passion in me and helped my career along the way. Even though she’s retired, we still talk today.”

We wanted to see what trends Rivasplata is watching. She is seeing a lot of Asian fusion and ingredients working their way onto menus. “What I love is that I get to see peoples’ reactions to our initiatives right away. When I go to one of our restaurants when we launch a special, it’s instant feedback and that is the best feedback you can get.”

A couple of the key issues Rivasplata identified were the cost side of the business and the supply chain and this is where Pumpernickels turns to Foodbuy for support. ”You can have amazing food and can work with an amazing menu and have a beautiful restaurant, but if you don’t have the right costs and the right pricing, then you will close in a couple of months.” states Rivasplata.

“For us at Pumpernickels, it’s just honest, clean, good food. And that’s what we do. Good food, good ingredients, good techniques and taking care of what we are doing. We are busy and we are grateful for our customers. We trust that is a direct result of the quality and the value that we provide. We put a lot of effort and work in making sure that that happens.”

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