Pastry Chef Paola Velez deserves a place in our list. From her culinary excellence to being also a changemaker, she is truly a Latina Powerhouse. Not only has this young Afro-latina chef received multiple awards, she is also very active in the latino community and the co-founder of Bakers Against Racism, an worldwide bake sale which has fundraised more than $2 Million for organizations that support Black Lives and Black communities globally.
Paola Velez was raised between NYC and the Dominican Republic. She graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in 2009 and then went on to start her career at several distinguished culinary institutions in Manhattan. She has worked under top bakers in the industry such as master chocolatier, Jacques Torres and Chef Christina Tosi. She was also the Lead Pastry cook at the critically-acclaimed Arroz, as the Pastry Chef at the Iron Gate Restaurant, Kith/Kin, and the latest as the Executive Pastry Chef of Compass Rose and Michelin Starred Maydan.
This Latina Powerhouse has earned her recognition with awards and nominations such as the ones below and this is not the entire list!
- InStyle 50 Women Making the World a Better Place - 2021
- Cherry Bombe Person of the Year - 2021
- FSR Rising Star Chef - 2021
- Time Out Magazine Woman of the Year - 2021
- Washington Business Journal Diversity In Business Award Winner - 2021
- Webby Nomination - Bakers Against Racism & AJ+ - 2021
- Emmy Nomination - Bakers Against Racism & AJ+ - 2021
- Taste Of the South Taste 50 - 2021
- Washingtonian Magazine Heroes of the Crisis - 2021
- Ayuda DC Champion of Change - 2021
- RAMWDC Double Finalist Nomination - 2021
- James Beard Foundation Rising Star Chef Finalist - 2020
- Esquire Pastry Chef of the Year Winner - 2020
- RAMWDC Pastry Chef of the Year Winner - 2020
- Thrillist Local Heroes - 2020
- Food 52 Quarantine Awards Winner - 2020
She has been written about by multiple publications and she landed a weekly series with Food & Wine channel called Pastries with Paola, where she shares her deserts recipes and how to make them.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, she also co-founded Doña Dona, a Latin American popup to help Ayuda DC, an organization that provides assistance and support to the restaurant industry undocumented workforce.