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Sara Lawson

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FINALIST PROFILE

SARA LAWSON

Age: 23

Occupation: Line cook

Birthplace: Torrance, Calif.

Hometown: Redondo Beach, Calif.

While growing up in Southern California, my father inspired in me at a young age the desire to indulge in the inherent pleasures of the natural world. I became a vegetarian, and remained so for more than 10 years. My formal education in the arts began at LACHSA (Los Angeles County High School for the Arts), studying classical theater and voice, surrounding myself with people of diverse cultural backgrounds, schools of thought and belief systems. I believe my natural love of entertaining is what cultivated my existing love for food. I really felt my happiest when experimenting with and creating new recipes to the endless delight of my willing guinea pigs. At the age of 21, I felt ready to focus completely on the pursuit of my career in the culinary arts. In May of 2003, I enrolled in the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. It was invigorating to be surrounded by those who shared my passion for food, realizing that I wasn't the only one who loved to eat, loved to prepare, loved to be around, and loved to dish up my favorite things. While in San Francisco, I was employed full time in local restaurants, including the Argonaut Hotel at the Fisherman's Wharf, which I assisted in opening, and Scala's Bistro in Union Square. In the kitchen, I have fun every day, dancing and singing because I truly love what I do. Although, when the time comes to put my nose to the grindstone, I am quiet and serious, focusing on the project at hand. I take pride in what I create and want others to experience how great it is to eat well prepared, quality food.

Late last year, I returned to Los Angeles to be closer to my family and put my schooling and experience to use at local restaurants. There isn't anything I don't want to do in the field of culinary arts. At this point in my life, my friends and family would describe me as quirky, determined, sensitive and funny. While I do have set goals, which include opening and operating my own eating establishments, I know I'll never consider myself finished. While my formal training has provided a more structured approach, my informal training as a self-taught cook, a hostess and an entertainer provides the perfect combination of function and form.

I adore food, I am a freak about food, and I want to share it with everyone. I want to conquer the world through food, so much so that my mood is instantly uplifted at the mere mention of the next meal. My purpose in life is learning, teaching, laughing and eating, and to me, there's nothing better than that.