At age 18, Noah Rosen has already run a successful blog, catering company and pop-up restaurant — and now he’s dishing about his future.
By Ashley Burnett
Most high school students are excited about the usual milestones: receiving their license, going off to college and being done with standardized tests forever. But 18-year-old Noah Rosen is excited by trips to gourmet restaurants like Le Bernardin and meeting renowned chefs like Eric Ripert, as well as gathering up a group of his peers to run a catering company and pop-up restaurant, all after gaining a large following on his culinary-focused blog, Your Taste Buddy.
“You can fall in love with a dish from a favorite chef or fall in love with the atmosphere of a favorite restaurant,” Rosen explains when asked why the culinary world has managed to captivate him. “The way food brings people together … is something that changes a child’s life and builds community around food.”
After all of his successes thus far—in addition to his pop-up restaurant and catering company, Rosen has also apprenticed in the kitchens of the various restaurants at Montage Laguna Beach (where he was eventually hired as a line cook) and won a $20,000 scholarship from the prestigious James Beard Foundation—this talented young chef shares what’s next.
Laguna Beach Magazine: How did you begin cooking?
I’ve been a foodie my whole life. I started my food blog, Your Taste Buddy, when I was 13 and back at Thurston Middle School in Laguna Beach, and from there it blossomed as an outlet for me to express my passion for [the] culinary arts, to the point where I was able to attend OCSA [Orange County School of the Arts] in the brand-new inaugural culinary arts and hospitality class, where I was [in] the first graduating class. … OCSA itself is a charter school that’s been around for [nearly] 30 years now, up in Santa Ana, and it also has conservatories [ranging] from dance to visual arts … and now culinary arts. And it was just a brand-new program opening up and I was able to get my foot in the door and get accepted. … What they’re doing is essentially teaching high school [students] the associates program from The Culinary Institute of America. So it’s just a phenomenal culinary education at a high school level.
What is it about the culinary world that interests you?
… It’s not just cooking that I love, it’s eating, talking about it, reading about it. It’s everything to do with the cuisine and food world. Not just the ways people can enjoy food, but the multicultural aspects, the historical aspects of it. And cuisine is such an underlying factor in not just our country, not just our society, but the entire world. Together, it creates bonds that are stronger than anything else, because a shared cuisine is like a shared origin, like a shared family history.
How did it feel to win the James Beard scholarship?
I applied for a James Beard scholarship a few months back, and to be recognized by such a prestigious … culinary organization is really just a phenomenal honor in recognition of all my hard work and all I’ve been doing, and my passion over the last five years.
As a high school student, you ran a catering company, a pop-up restaurant and ended up valedictorian of your class. How did you juggle all of that?
Not a lot of sleep. But it’s all about finding something you love. For me to be able to work almost full-time at the Montage [Laguna Beach] while going to school 40 hours a week or more … I didn’t need sleep because I was taking so much joy and enjoyment out of what I was doing. It’s a cliche, but you never work a day in your life if you love what you’re doing, and the past few years, I’ve been able to do what I love every day.
What kind of advice would you give to kids who are interested in cooking?
… What you should do is, if you’re 10 to 15, start cooking at home. Go out to dinner, sit at the chef’s counter, try to experience all the food you can, eat a variety [of food], taste new things, go to the farmers market. And when you get older … get a restaurant job. … It’s so much fun, and it’s just a haven of learning for someone who is new to the industry. … Don’t just wait for college to go culinary school, find out now if this is what you’re cut out for and really what you love.