Do You Have What It Takes To Become The Next Iron Chef?

July is National Culinary Arts Month, a celebration of chefs and cooks and their contributions to the nation’s food scene.

I decided to have a quick chat with Israel Hartsfield, Pali’s own Executive Chef and Culinary Ambassador, about this important field and what made him want a career in the culinary arts.

What made you choose to go into the culinary arts field?

The day I started my first summer prep cook job, an intimidating giant in a chef coat approached me. He handed me a knife and said, “Good, you’re here. Get to work, son”. I suppose I am still working that same shift, in a way.

What advice do you have to young people interested in culinary arts?

Food should be thought of first as a creative expression, not work. If you have ever communicated kindness, consideration or appreciation through something you have made for someone, you are likely an artist…and if it was food, you might even be a chef.

What is the most rewarding thing about being a chef?

Foodservice is one of a few industries where you can earnestly and positively affect someone’s quality of life in an instant. We also hold an ancient and rarely-paralleled pact of trust with our diners. They quietly rely on us to serve food that is enjoyable, nutritious, responsible and creative. It is an authentic honor.

What is the hardest thing about being a chef?

Keeping the faith early on. Like many careers, there is a learning curve where you must grow your skills set. This is done by challenging oneself and never turning down an opportunity to learn when it arises. Navigating this period can be difficult, but it can be done.  And I believe it is where a young chef begins to find their professional identity.

Whether you have always dreamed of becoming a chef or are just now discovering your passion, there is plenty of Culinary training available at Pali Adventures to help you get started on your career path.

Here’s a taste of what our culinary campers accomplish during their week at Pali Adventures:

  • Create appetizers, salads, entrees and desserts
  • Learn to use a wide variety of ingredients
  • Cook according to daily themes
  • Friday cooking challenge
  • Learn basic kitchen safety

After four fun-filled days of cooking, campers have the opportunity to put their new culinary skills to the test in a cooking competition — “Iron Chef” style.


About Pali Adventures

Pali Adventures is an overnight summer camp for kids ages 8-16, located in Southern California near Los Angeles. The Pali experience is one of a kind: campers choose a morning specialty and all of their own afternoon electives to design a personalized adventure. Our campers follow their dreams, try incredible new things and gain lifelong friends in a safe and supportive environment. Send your child to the place where they will grow, feel successful and return home saying, “That was the Best Camp Ever!”

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