WESTFORD — With a lifelong passion for cooking, Westford Academy business teacher Gina Mustoe has placed as a quarter-finalist in Carla Hall’s ‘Favorite Chef’ contest.
Why ‘Favorite Chef’?
Mustoe first stepped entered the spotlight during an episode of “Top Chef Amateurs” in 2021. As a self-proclaimed “‘Top Chef’ superfan,” Mustoe sought to compete.
After an ad for “Favorite Chef” came across her social media feed, Mustoe entered and was chosen as one of the ten final contestants. She is currently placed fourth in the Quarter-Finals.
“I didn’t anticipate making it to August, and now here we are,” Mustoe said.
Mustoe aimed to improve her culinary skills throughout the contest. On her ‘Favorite Chef’ page, she added, “I want to win so I can share my passion for cooking with more people.”
The first-place winner of the contest will be featured in Taste of Home Magazine and win $25,000. If she wins, she says she will use the prize money to further her catering business and donate to Feeding America, a charity that aims to end hunger in the U.S.
“It’s just a sin that people in our own country are starving. That’s why I’ve always thought highly of that charity and donated to it,” Mustoe said.
Mustoe’s passion for cooking
In the Mustoe family food is more than just a meal, it is what brings them together.
Mustoe recounts fond memories of cooking Sunday dinners with her grandparents, consisting of Italian dishes, lamb, and roast beef dinners.
“Even when we were wicked busy with our [activities], we would make it a point to make sure we all sat down at some point before we went to bed and had a meal,” Mustoe said. “It’s a huge part of why I love food…we had that time together that you’re never going to get back.”
Mustoe also believes cooking provides “valuable life skills” that can teach one to be confident in themselves and their abilities, which then extends outside of the kitchen.
“I do some cooking classes here and there, and it’s so much fun to teach adults how to cook and see the delight in their eyes…The amount of self-esteem that you build when you’re able to create something from start to finish is amazing.”
Plans for the future
Mustoe says her goal is the eventually combine her teaching experience with food.
“To me, it is absolute bliss to be able to share that [cooking] skill and be able to empower people with the opportunity to make their own food and give them just a little bit of the passion that I have. That for me would be the ultimate career path,” Mustoe said.
She hopes to eventually expand her catering business and open a food truck on the side.
“There is no better joy than cooking a delicious meal for people that you care about. Especially when they really enjoy eating your creations and appreciate all of your work.”