Antonia Lofaso is living her dreams. A former contestant on Bravo’s “Top Chef, Lofaso’s plate has been full since her days as a student at the French Culinary Institute. After graduation, she was hired by Wolfgang Puck at Spago and later opened her own restaurant. Whether the Northridge native is making breakfast from scratch for her 15-year-old daughter, preparing to mentor contestants on Season Three of CNBC’s “Restaurant Startup” or partnering with ice cream giant Breyers to create recipes, Lofaso is a busy woman. She’s also the owner and executive chef of Black Market in Studio City and Scopa Italian Roots in Venice. She recently spoke with the Business Journal about the guilt of working moms, the pressure of reality TV and the importance of a big breakfast.
Describe your morning routine.
I’m up by 6 a.m. I make breakfast. I get my daughter, who’s 15, ready for school. We try to eat really healthy at home. We have a high-protein, veggies, fresh orange juice and smoothies. I try to keep frozen berries and bananas on hand. I make almond milk, English breakfast tea, soft-boiled egg and pears. I make Eggs Benedict, shredded sweet potato pancakes, sunny side up eggs, asparagus. It makes making breakfast for her impossible (for anyone else).
Why is it so important for you, as a chef especially, to eat healthy?
I was skinny until I was 28, and I gained 50 pounds by 30 with my first, new restaurant. I have to pay more attention. I’m going to be 40. You see that with most chefs as they age. I’m trying to monitor my health more.
How do you achieve work/life balance?
The moments with my daughter are quality time because I’m present. Working moms are a guilty bunch. We never think we’re doing enough. Running a restaurant is time consuming, and our family pays a price for that. But our relationship is strong. I don’t apologize for the work I put in to make our lives better.
What do you think is your greatest accomplishment?
People looking up to me and want me to mentor them and want my career one day. I was that person. To me, that is more important than being a TV personality.
What was it like being on “Top Chef?”
It was my first time in a reality, competition show. I was green as you could get. It was the most petrified I’d been in my life. I turned 30. It was an extreme learning experience. Pushing yourself in all those situations was pretty mind-blowing. I think it definitely put me out there.