We had the good fortune of connecting with Carla Arce and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Carla, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I really had no strategic plan to start The Chilean Peasant. It was such an inconsistent project throughout the years that I never really thought it would grow further. It was always just side hustle I would dabble in from time-to-time. Honestly my business has been based on the guidance & support from friends & family and also some good fortune despite emerging during Covid. In addition, Criselle (@crisellebelle) and Michelle (@deserthangers) have been great mentors to me and have pushed me to really make things happen for The Chilean Peasant. I am at a point now where I’m just like “oh shit haha this happening” and now I really have to think about what my next steps are.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I have worked my way up through restaurants for eight years and in the past three I have been promoted to chef de cuisine. I feel like some of my challenges are cliché and familiar to some chefs. Like quitting my depressing, lonely, sad little cube-life for my life long chef dream. Applying for a prep position I has no experience in and getting my ass kicked (not literally) by the tyrant chef. Despite being in honors and receiving a scholarship for my academic achievements, I left towards the end of
my culinary school training to be a sous chef full-time.
Ive worked for companies that don’t care for the well-being of their employees. Who play that “oh well if you want to stay on you can but you cant work overtime” bullshit. The companies that are ran by small minded men who call you “sweetheart” or declare you aren’t fit to be an executive chef for some small obsolete reason but really its because of being a woman.
My greatest challenge was when my dad fell ill right on New Years Eve going into 2019. It was pretty intense. His entire aorta had torn, top to bottom and along with some other health issues, the doctor gave my dad a one to five percent chance of pulling through. I quit my job and I honestly prayed to God that if my dad made it, I would hang up my chef’s coat and just take care of my dad for however much longer I had left with him. After over a month in the hospital, dad was able to come home. Was never able to go back work though because shortly after Covid hit. Life is funny that way.
But without all these events, I wouldn’t be where I am now. I know the type of chef I want to be, the kind of restaurant I would run and I know that I would never make my career my life. Not after what happen to my dad. I love being a chef but I am here for a good time, not a long time and I don’t want to miss out anymore.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
To be honest I don’t really have favorite spots but I love trying new places. I have a bookmark list on instagram with a bunch of restaurants I want to try. Luckily the homie/homegirl are foodies and would dig the food adventures. We would go to LA for sure. Definitely want to check out Madre have some mezcal and Oaxacan food. Hit up a bunch of taco trucks. Take a break from Mexican cuisine to try David Chang’s Majordomo. Probably grab sushi in some hole-in-the-wall joints. Then we head south towards the beach and hit some roof top bars. Laguna Beach has a few goods ones. One is literally called the Roof Top Lounge and they some stiff drinks with a nice view. For some childhood memories we would hit up Rubys Diner. That was actually my first job and I still love to eat there. After that I think I would let my friend decide on where to go from there. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I always mention Criselle (@crisellebelle) because she is a big part of my story which most people know. Shouka (@doepdesigns) is not only my graphic designer but my best friend and always knew my business would go somewhere. Michelle (@deserthangers) is now apart of this journey as well. She began hosting a popup market called Creative Babes (@creativebabesmarket) and she really pushed to get my business out there and since my first popup I have had a few doors open for me.
Of course my parents. Needless to say, The Chilean Peasant wouldn’t exist without them. My mom is forever my teacher, my number one fan, best friend and sous chef. She has always supported me in all my decisions and has been my greatest inspiration. If it wasn’t for her sitting me on the kitchen counter, I would not be cooking. My dad has come a long way. From completely shunning the idea of becoming a chef to being my taste tester. Nothing new goes on my menu without him trying it. He is my little walking advertiser, my number one customer and I am blessed that he is still here to watch me grow. I’d like to also shoutout to my sibling in-laws, Abe and Miri, whom gave up their time, sleep and weekends to help me set up at popups
Lastly, my fiancé, Hugo. Not to be sappy (okay a little sappy) but he has encouraged me throughout this whole process since we have been together. Whenever I feel like I can’t do something in regards to The Chilean Peasant, he calls “bullshit” and pushes me to do it and he is right there every step of the way. He makes the same sacrifices I do. He comes home from working at a bakery to help me work. He learned my dough recipes so he can assist me. He rolls out my dough, helps me set up for popups and comes with me on almost all of my deliveries. To top it off, he does the dishes.
There isn’t a word that can describe the appreciation and love I have for the mentioned above and to all the others who have believed in me during this endeavor.
Muchísimas gracias y te amo mucho