A Teenage Chef Who Brings Soul to California Cuisine

Name: Rahanna Bisseret Martinez

Age: 18

Hometown: Oakland, Calif.

Now Lives: In a three-bedroom house in East Oakland with her mother and younger brother.

Claim to Fame: Ms. Bisseret Martinez is a teenage chef and cookbook author known for spicy dishes that combines her Black, Mexican and Haitian heritage, as well as her Northern California roots. She has appeared on “Top Chef Junior,” interned at Chez Panisse and Dominique Ansel’s bakery, and created a popular recipe for roasted cabbage with red pepper garlic butter that went viral on Facebook.

“Food can be expressed in so many different ways,” she said. “It’s important that we share cultures and put the original names to different cultural techniques.”

Big Break: Her fascination with cooking started at a young age. While her friends were watching “The Powerpuff Girls,” she was glued to public television and studied classic French chefs like Julia Child and Jacques Pépin. She auditioned for “Master Chef Junior” after seeing a commercial for it. Though she wasn’t accepted, the producers remembered her and reached out for “Top Chef Junior,” a similar show featuring contestants aged 9 to 14.

She was a runner-up, cooking dishes like cilantro-lime lamb chops and sweet potato pecan pie with a lemon thyme ice cream and cajeta sauce. She has also appeared on “Guy’s Grocery Games,” a cooking show set in a supermarket. TV has come a long way since I was watching it when I was 10,” she said.

Latest Project: After contributing recipes and essays for other cookbooks, Ms. Bisseret Martinez has written her own, “Flavor + Us,” which will be published by 4 Color Books, an imprint that features chefs of color started by Bryant Terry, a vegan chef and cookbook author in California.

The 80 recipes include sweet scones inspired by Mexican pastry, a healthier carbonara pasta made with herbs and eggplant, and a variation of her rib eye tostadas that she made on “Guy’s Grocery Games.” “I want to teach the home cook global techniques that influence Northern California cooking,” she said.

Next Thing: Ms. Bisseret Martinez recently started working as prep cook at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Calif. “I handle and process a lot of the vegetables,” she said. “I can’t even count how many fava beans I’ve probably cleaned and peeled and prepped and gotten ready to go.” She graduated from high school last month and will study hospitality at Cornell University in the fall.

Teamwork: “I really love the team aspect of cooking in restaurants,” she said of working in a professional kitchen. “It’s a lot of prep work early in the morning for a big payoff at the end of the day. It’s a special night for people.”

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