Breaking into any industry is challenging — but when you’re working hard to make your dreams come true, no barriers are too great. The culinary industry can be a tough egg to crack (pun intended), but female chefs are proving day in and day out that passion, talent, and hard work far surpass even the toughest obstacles.
Unfortunately, though, only 19% of head chefs are women, and female chefs are, on average, paid 28% less than their male counterparts. Thanks to the hard work and passion previously mentioned, these statistics can change — but you can help too.
We’ve partnered with Grubhub, the largest food delivery service in the nation, and their incredible initiative, RestaurantHER, to share more information with you about women-led restaurants in your area, as well as to share the inspiring stories of incredible women making their mark on the culinary landscape. To learn more about women-led restaurants in your own area, visit RestaurantHER.com (they even have a map to show where you can dine or order in your neighborhood — so simple!).
For some advice and inspiration regarding the culinary industry, though, you’re in the right place. I chatted with Stephanie Vitori, President of Miami hotspot Cheeseburger Baby, to learn more about what it’s really like to successfully “make it” in the culinary industry. Stephanie’s well-deserved career trajectory, unique background, and kickass attitude make it clear why she’s the woman behind Dwayne Wade and Gabrielle Union’s go-to burger spot — and your soon-to-be role model. (And if you’re in Miami, check out Cheeseburger Baby right now on Grubhub and have it delivered to you!) Read on to hear Stephanie’s advice for breaking into the culinary industry — and to learn a little more about the woman behind your newest bucket list burger destination.
Name: Stephanie Vitori
Job Title: President, Cheeseburger Baby
Location: South Miami Beach, FL
What was your first job in the industry, and how did you land it?
Burger King through my grandfather, because he had his morning coffee there everyday. And now they call me the Burger Queen — funny how things come full circle!
Your story is seriously inspiring — tell us how you went from being a delivery driver to the owner of Cheeseburger Baby, and then how you went on to turn it into the growing and thriving hotspot it is today.
Well, first, thank you for that incredible compliment. The success of Cheeseburger Baby comes from the fact that everything about the business is my passion. Every time I walk in the door of any of our stores or food trucks, I get excited for the day. Being behind the grill brings me a kind of joy that you can’t buy.
As far as the “Cheeseburger Baby story,” when I was a delivery driver, it went through a few different owners and I just watched each one try and change something that didn’t need to be changed because it worked the way it was. I had gotten into a motorcycle accident when the owner was trying to sell it again for the 3rd time, and the money I got for my bike I used as a down payment and paid the business off in two years. From there, I learned how to cook, cashier, manage, do the books etc. Everything has been organically grown by word of mouth, and myself hand flyering every door as a delivery driver and through social networking. In 2013, I built my first food truck, in 2015 I got my 2nd location, and just last week I finished my 2nd food truck.
What’s unique about Cheeseburger Baby?
We make simple taste good. Our bread is delivered fresh daily from a local bakery, as are our ingredients, and are all prepared by hand. From rare to well-done, you can have your burger cooked to the exact temperature you like. We most importantly ensure your experience at CBB is top-notch. If you leave and don’t feel like part of the family, we have done something wrong.
Cheeseburger Baby’s motto is “Keepin’ It Classic.” Why do you think it’s important to maintain a level of authenticity — both in your own line of work and out in the world?
Being genuine and “Keepin’ it Classic” is at the core of all that I do in and outside of Cheeseburger Baby. Authenticity cannot be copied and is a quality that ensures you stand out from the rest.
Everything has been organically grown by word of mouth, and myself hand flyering every door as a delivery driver and through social networking.
Why do you personally believe it’s so successful?
Honestly, there are a lot of things that have partaken in Cheeseburger Baby’s success. My customers, my wife, my family, my friends, my staff, and myself. You have to put the work in, and we all have. While I believe our burger is the best in the business, I think it comes back to thanking our locals.
Miami is a city of tourism and we love our visitors, but we have customers that have been coming in weekly since day one. Dwayne Wade, for instance, came in about a week after he was signed to the Heat. Cut to 10 years later, our food truck was grilling up burgers for he and Gabrielle’s wedding reception. That kind of loyalty from all our 305ers, celebrity or not, is incomparable.
What professional accomplishment are you most proud of?
Never giving up. We have survived hurricanes, recessions, big corporate burger franchises moving in across the street, and so much more. But when you do what you love, you don’t let anything get in the way of your success.
If you weren’t with Cheeseburger Baby, where do you think you’d be?
Perhaps running a little tiki bar on Little Corn Island, Guanaja, or Bimini.
We have survived hurricanes, recessions, big corporate burger franchises moving in across the street, and so much more. But when you do what you love, you don’t let anything get in the way of your success.
Tell us about your culinary training — did you study culinary arts in school?
I was not classically trained in the culinary field, but studying those around me. I watched the women that were in my life in the kitchen and took it on from there. Even today, after twenty years, I continue to study industry leaders because you are never too successful, too old, etc. to stop learning. Sharing information with one another is so important.
What’s your best advice for women dreaming of entering the culinary industry?
Your health, looks, money, etc. can fade — a good strong work ethic can not. Work your butt off and you will succeed in this business and any other factor in your life. Don’t give up. Sometimes you’ll break, but if it’s truly where your heart and passion is, don’t give up. My mum told me a quote one time and I actually have it tattooed on me that says “through every trial there is a treasure,” so remember that.
Even today, after twenty years, I continue to study industry leaders because you are never too successful, too old, etc. to stop learning.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
No matter what, ALWAYS make time for yourself and your loved ones. Life is too short.
What advice would you give to your own younger self?
Finish college, get rest now & always have a back up plan.
Stephanie Vitori is The Everygirl…
Favorite item on the Cheeseburger Baby menu?
Baby’s Favorite- 1/2LB applewood smoked bacon cheddar cheeseburger with a fried egg on top
Favorite spots in Miami?
Best way to spend a day off?
On the boat with my wife.
Favorite way to stay active?
Taking care of our four rescue dogs
Song you’ve been listening to on repeat?
“Free Byrd” by Lynyrd Skynyrd
If you could have lunch with any woman, who would it be and why?
My wife. My time with her is most important to me. She not only makes me forget about everything business but she deserves my time. Cheeseburger Baby gets most my time and that’s not always easy to deal with. It takes a special & extremely patient person to deal with my job and she’s that person. If you’re looking for a celebrity answer it would have to be Kris Jenner. Say what you will about the Kardashians, but she has built an empire that kids will study in school one day.
This post was in partnership with Grubhub, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board.