Communal Table Podcast: Paola Velez on Empathy, Anxiety, and Action

The James Beard Rising Star Pastry Chef nominee talks about what it truly means to serve your community.

Chefs and restaurant workers take great care of everyone else, but often they need a little help themselves. Each week, Food & Wine senior editor Kat Kinsman talks with hospitality pros about they manage their business, brain, and body for the long haul. Is there a topic you'd like to know more about or a guest you'd love to hear from? Tell us at or tweet to Kat @kittenwithawhip, and subscribe to the weekly Food & Wine Pro newsletter. Subscribe to the new Communal Table YouTube page and never miss an episode. Catch up on previous episodes here.

Episode 71: Paola Velez Talks About the Art and Pleasure of Being an Empathetic Leader

Paola Velez was listening to the James Beard Award finalist announcements hoping for the chance to cheer on some friends and colleagues. She was gobsmacked to hear her own name called out in the Rising Star Pastry Chef category. No one else was surprised. The Kith/Kin dessert master is revered and adored not just for her culinary chops, but also for her thoughtful, forward-thinking, and generous leadership—every day, but especially in times of crisis. Velez spoke with Food & Wine about opening up the kitchen doors to more people of color, dealing with anxiety, and what it really means to serve your community.

Note: Because the podcast had to be recorded in a less than ideal setup, the sound quality may not be as crisp as usual. We're all doing our best.

Links and Resources

Follow Paola: @smallorchids

Learn: Upgrade your chocolate chip cookies

Buy doughnuts for a good cause: Doña Dona

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Previous episode: How Khushbu Shah Picked Food & Wine's Best New Chefs 2020

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