Fil-Am chef Sally Camacho thrives on competition in the kitchen


‘Top Chef: Just Desserts’ Finalist Sally Camacho Shares the Challenges of Other Chefs Who Don’t Take Her Seriously in the Kitchen

This story is published in partnership with SoJannelleTV, a magazine about Filipinos in North America

Chef Sally Camacho makes no secret of her love of competition. Since first entering a baking competition in 2002, the Filipino-American chef has thrived on bringing out her best on the biggest stages.

“I liken it to like you’re in a boxing ring. You train and you train and you train for this moment and you do everything to do your best in this moment. I love pushing those boundaries in baking and doing what I do,” Camacho told Filipino-American media pioneer Jannelle So Perkins, for the latter. So Jannelle TV, airing nationwide on The Filipino Channel (TFC) and ANC cable channels; as well as local digital channel Southern CA KNET 25.1.

Much of the world knows her for being a finalist on season 2 of Top Chef: Just desserts, but Camacho has been leading the way for many years. In 2007, she was part of the first all-female team to compete in a world or national baking competition. Then, in 2011, she won the Valrhona C3 competition in Paris, France, winning the US title and qualifying for the global competition the following year in Madrid, Spain. She finished third, but was proud that the other two podium finishers were also Asian women.

Despite her incredible international success as a pastry chef, Camacho initially trained as a savory chef. She found love for baking creation after getting her start at the Four Seasons Los Angeles in Beverly Hills. The position of pastry chef was not very popular in the kitchen, so she let herself be tempted and made it her specialty. His career has blossomed since then, moving on to teaching internships at institutions like the Culinary Institute of America and executive positions at luxury hotels like the Fairmont Turnberry Isle Resort in Miami.

She has stunned taste buds around the world with her signature sweets including her vanilla soufflé, marjolaise, mango trifle and ube chocolate chip cookies. Yet she finds obstacles in leadership roles as an Asian woman.

“I’ve also been in positions where if I’ve given instructions to an older man and he doesn’t want to hear me or ignores me. It happened even recently when I was a partner in a restaurant a few years ago. Probably everywhere in my career I have witnessed and experienced something like this,” Camacho said.

Yet this pushback from other chefs who didn’t want to take orders from her, for whatever reason, didn’t discourage her from being bold in the workplace.

“My parents were always like, they raised me that this world isn’t easy. ‘You’re a minority, you’re a woman. People are going to look at you differently and you’re going to prove them wrong,'” Camacho recalls , who now mainly works in private catering.

So far, she has proven them wrong and continues to do so while pursuing a passion that fulfills her and makes people smile.

“I love feeding people, I love people enjoying the food I make. I love being part of someone’s ceremony and seeing their face light up when they see that beautiful wedding cake in front of them. him or something that I did for him. It just makes me feel so good,” Camacho said. – Jannelle So Productions |

Rappler partners with Jannelle So Productions Inc (JSP), founded by Filipino-American pioneer and Los Angeles-based journalist Jannelle So, to publish videos and written stories from SoJannelleTV about Filipinos’ travels, successes and challenges living in America.

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