Venezuelan chef, Alejandra Utrera, rose to fame from her time on Channel Seven’s Plate of Origin, becoming known as The Arepa Queen (the Venezuelan version of a taco). She will be one of the renowned chefs appearing at Global Fiesta, the second instalment of Regional Flavours for 2021, at South Bank Parklands on 16 and 17 October.

Global Fiesta is two days, three stages, 30 pop-up gourmet food, drink and craft market stalls, roving entertainment and cooking demonstrations by renowned chefs cooking the food of their cultural origins – it looks set to be the cultural highlight of the year.

When asked what she is most proud of in her career, she said, “I am so proud that I have been able to show South American culture and flavours to Australia. I moved to here without any previous experience as a chef, and I found my passion for traditional South American food as a way to overcome homesickness. I changed my career to follow this new passion and I have had the opportunity to be the first Venezuelan to promote South American food on SBS and Channel Seven.”

She said there are some of the challenges and advantages of working as a female chef in a traditionally male-dominated industry. “However it is changing. I have had the fortune to work in mostly female-owned businesses and have been so lucky that these women have given me so many opportunities to develop my career.

“The hospitality industry is incredibly demanding, the hours are not always flexible and there is a lot of competition for a few high-profile positions. Women, particularly those with young families, have a much larger proportion of home duties, so it is ironic that some of the best traditional chefs/cooks in Australia are probably only serving to their family and friends, due to the barriers they would experience entering and progressing in the hospitality industry.”

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