We had the good fortune of connecting with Brette Waters and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Brette, can you share the most important lesson you’ve learned over the course of your career?
The biggest lesson my career in the foodservice and hospitality industry has taught me is how to be a problem solver. Anyone who works in this business knows that it is a constantly moving target with incredibly dynamic personalities encountered along the way. You always have to balance the needs of chefs, kitchen staff, front of the house staff, farmers, producers, you name it. Every one of these interactions carries with it unique needs and desires. You have to be adaptable, efficient, think on the spot, make quick decisions and do it all with a smile.
These same lessons have served me well in my career as Program Director of the non-profit organization Chefs to End Hunger. But by far the most important lesson I have learned in this position is that even small acts can add up to make a huge difference. Often times when we’re faced with daily, incremental work, it can be difficult to see how we are moving the needle at all. But when you can take a step back and see the bigger picture it is clear that we all can contribute to the greater good of our communities. Knowing that I, that WE, can have an impact like this is such a huge motivator!
My job as a yoga instructor harnesses the same philosophies embraced in my position of non-profit director. Both jobs have taught me to see people with loving, caring eyes. To trust the process, however challenging it may be, and to meet others, (and MYSELF), where they are in this moment, not the past, not the future, the PRESENT. We are all humans and have all experienced love, loss, joy, pain, struggle, success- these are shared experiences and that is really beautiful and powerful.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
From a young age I felt that I was meant to live a big life. That didn’t mean being rich or famous. To me it meant having influence, being able to have an impact greater than my immediate existence. I have been blessed in this life, and have had so many great opportunities. But I have also worked my ass off, hustled all along the way. Having worked for over 2 decades in the food business, I have encountered many challenges, not the least of which was learning how to take care of myself and my sanity in an industry that doesn’t exactly promote balance. But you persevere. Sometimes because you have to pay the bills, sometimes because its all you know how to do, always because theres a little voice inside that tells you to believe in yourself, that you are on the right path even when you’re unsure of the destination. When I began work with Chefs to End Hunger it kind of all crystalized for me. Here I have this platform and the resources to make life better for other people. What I have the opportunity to do is really special. I get to solve 2 huge problems faced today- food waste and food insecurity. It’s really using one challenge to address the other. Damn we have so much overproduction of food in this country and we dispose of so much in the process. Meanwhile millions go hungry every year. I get to be a part of the solution to both by recovering surplus food and distributing it to organizations that serve our communities.
So, in retrospect I can see all the little pieces that came together over the years to bring me to this point.
There’s this really great Rumi quote that speaks to this idea of staying with that seed of inspiration and trusting the process-
“As you start to walk on the way, the way appears”
We don’t always know exactly where we’re going but that’s sort of beautiful too.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Hosting my bestie to an amazing week in LA is easy and honestly really looking forward to that opportunity again as we move out of a year spent primarily at home!
My happy place is the beach so we would be spending lots of time there…Manhattan Beach as well as Malibu, probably even up to County Line. Its so beautiful just driving up the coast!
My other happy place is the yoga studio so we would probably studio-hop daily as well. If we were living pre-covid we would head to my fave studio, YogaSalt in Culver City.
Terranea Resort in PV is so close to LA but you feel like you’re worlds away and we could hike around there and then indulge ourselves after.
For live music I love the Greek as well as the Roxy and the Wiltern Theatre.
We would def make stops at the Getty and LACMA, the Rose Bowl Flea Market and also cruise the Arts District.
Every minute not doing one of the above we would be eating and drinking…likely at Olivetta, Gjelina and Gjusta, Bavel, and hop around west LA and Little Tokyo for sushi.
And then back to the beach 🙂 The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Many moons ago when I was very young and looking for a career that would give me an opportunity to grow professionally when the only experience I had was working in restaurants, I joined the sales team at Vesta Foodservice. It was at Vesta that I had the chance to really get to know the city of Los Angeles inside and out, and work with many of the best restaurants and chefs in the biz. While at Vesta, the organization Chefs to End Hunger was founded, and I see now that this was a pivotal moment in my life, personally and professionally. I was trusted to run the organization and mold it and plan for the future. The experience galvanized my life long desire to have a positive impact on the lives of others. It also gave me the confidence to pursue other personal passions like getting my yoga teacher certification, which I believe makes me a better human. As a result of these experiences I am able to see and affect a better future for all humans.
Instagram: @chefstoendhunger @brettewaters
photo of brette with Othon Nolasco (founder of No Us Without You) is credited to Mel Hummel all other photos are owned by Brette Waters