featured image via Amour and Lace Photography
From her early treasured childhood moments creating recipes and memories with her mother and grandmother, Rene Gonzalez, our NJMOMpreneur of the week, says she’s always been happiest in the kitchen. Now she’s bringing that passion to a new generation with Bambino Chef in Jersey City, her kitchen studio where children and adults spend time together through healthy, creative cooking. Little chefs who visit Rene’s bright and cheery culinary space leave with big smiles, full bellies, and healthy, fun ideas for recipes! We’re inspired by Rene’s dedication to bringing families together in the kitchen and her belief that gratitude is the best attitude. She sat down with us to discuss her love of spicy food, her plans to add to the Bambino Chef blog, and why Cape May is her favorite Jersey vacation spot.
Founder of Bambino Chef & NJMOMpreneur Rene Gonzalez
NJMOM: What do you offer to your clients and how is it different than other professionals in your field?
Rene: Bambino Chef is a cooking school that offers delicious cooking lessons for children and adults. One of Bambino Chef’s main focuses in our cooking classes and events is healthy and creative cooking. We work with tons of traditional recipes and we put our own healthy fun twist. Our budding chefs are encouraged to think outside of the box and experiment with the ingredients. We also offer birthday parties, camps, Friday-night drop-off, bridal and baby showers, and more.
Be fearless when implementing your ideas! Sometimes you just have to trust your intuition and run with it.” – Rene, NJMOMpreneur
NJMOM: What inspired you to get into your line of work?
Rene: Definitely my family. I somehow always ended up in the kitchen watching my grandmother and mom cook, I was attracted to cooking – whether it was just helping them stir ingredients together or as simple as rinsing vegetables, I was always the happiest in the kitchen.
NJMOM: What is your favorite part about your business?
Rene: No doubt watching children create yumminess all from scratch and see them enjoy the process and take pride in the end results. The most satisfying is to see how they open up to trying new foods and being adventurous with ingredients, especially the unfamiliar or the ones they usually wouldn’t enjoy cooking with and eating.NJMOM: What is your background in your business expertise?
Rene: I have several certifications as well as restaurant experience. One of my favorite things to do is take new courses/cooking classes when I travel to other countries – the experience is simply priceless.
NJMOM: What are you most proud of in your career?
Rene: To be honest, it is a very difficult industry and I remember vividly people trying to talk me out of this idea. I am beyond happy that I truly listened to my heart and continued with what I was so passionate about.
NJMOM: What is something few people know about you?
Rene: I am a classically trained piano player, I speak 6 languages, I have spent some time working with refugees with Doctors Without Borders, pranks are part of my weekly routine, I am obsessed with spicy food and I am a very fast eater!
NJMOM: What can we expect from you next year – personally and professionally?
Rene: I love experimenting with food, I enjoy developing recipes and watch them come to life. My goal is to share more of our recipes through our blog on our website.
NJMOM: What charitable cause are you most passionate about?
Rene: No Kid Hungry – they provide food to children from extremely low-income families. I am also involved with local shelters – we occasionally provide free cooking classes, host food drives and sandwich making sessions.
NJMOM: Who is your role model? Why?
Rene: It might sound very cliche but it is my mom! She is the one that gave me freedom to create in the kitchen and was beyond patient with my cooking as a child. Her positive attitude and strong work ethic just stuck with me forever. She has always been fearless when it came to trying new things, listening to your heart and not being afraid of failure. It goes without saying that all of this has made such a positive impact on my life and the life lessons I learned from my mom are incredibly helpful.
NJMOM: What is the best piece of advice your mom (or parent/role model) ever gave to you?
Rene: My mom always says “everything happens for a reason” and although it is a common phrase you hear, sometimes it is the only words you need to hear to feel motivated and not be discouraged.
NJMOM: Do you have a favorite quote you live by? Why is this quote so important to you?
Gratitude is the best attitude!
It is so true, when you are grateful for everything you have (family, friends, coworkers, opportunities…) you simply cut out the unnecessary stress and worry.
NJMOM: What are your favorite things to do in New Jersey with your family?
Rene: New Jersey is absolutely stunning. There is so much to do: parks, lakes, farms, kids activity centers, restaurants…I have to admit we love our NJ farms! We love apple picking, Easter egg hunts, strawberry picking. We love going to the beach – nothing like a good old fashioned boardwalk! New Jersey has some amazing restaurants – we love to drive to small towns and find the local hidden gems.
NJMOM: What is the best part about being a mom for you?
Rene: It is joy, it is unmeasurable love, it is an unbreakable bond. Parenthood is an amazing ride – full of surprises and lessons nobody prepares you for. My father used to say “you will understand it all when you become a parent yourself” – and very often I find myself thinking “oh goodness my dad was right!”
NJMOM: What are your favorite businesses in New Jersey?
Rene: There are so many! I love Stella’s Empanadas for their delicious empanadas, HudsonPLAY – where kids stay active, Orale Mexican Kitchen – everything is delicious on their menu, Torico Ice Cream, which has so many fun flavors, and Mana Contemporary to get our art fix!
NJMOM: Where do you reside and vacation in New Jersey?
Rene: We live in Jersey City and absolutely love it! There is so much going on here: a fascinating food scene, beautiful parks, tons of local businesses, talented artists, and things to do for all ages. The best part about Jersey City is this sense of community. Jersey City is enormous, highly diverse and continuously evolving, but one thing remains the same and that is our community. My favorite NJ vacation spot is Cape May – everything from the fresh breezy air to Victorian architecture is captivating.
NJMOM: What advice might you have for a fellow NJMOMpreneur who is just starting out?
Rene: Be fearless when implementing your ideas! Sometimes you just have to trust your intuition and run with it. Don’t be discouraged by offsets – that’s one of the ways you learn what works and what doesn’t.
NJMOM: Anything else you’d like to tell moms in New Jersey?
Rene: I am so incredibly happy to have met and to continue meeting fantastic moms and their families. I am beyond grateful for all the love and support we receive from our moms. Thank you for allowing us to share our cooking magic with your children!