There’s nothing noteworthy about a college kid skipping a class or two to catch up on sleep. But when the student is missing her lectures because she’s engrossed in cooking elaborate meals in her dorm room, it’s another story.
“I used to throw dinner parties for my friends in high school and college,” says Alejandra Ramos, a culinarian who likes to think of herself as a “food and lifestyle expert.” She’s successfully parlayed what began as a childhood pastime into a successful career that includes an award-winning blog, appearances on national television and stints as a guest author for the likes of O the Oprah Magazine, Saveur, Cosmopolitan, BonAppetit.com and many more.
“I have two big passions in life: food and the written word,” says Alejandra, who admits she has always loved food. How she came to cooking is rooted in practicality, however. As a child, she was often wanting a snack, but no one had the time to stop and prepare her latest craving.
“I learned I could have it if I made it myself, especially sweets and the ‘naughty’ things,” she says.
Journey To The Kitchen
A proven self-starter, Alejandra enrolled in The George Washington University to pursue writing, but instead of taking the popular route of studying abroad during her time there, she enrolled in a culinary school in Florence.
“It was everything I wanted,” she says. “The chefs were incredible but also very relaxed and Italian. They would hang out and drink wine with us late at night. We were very much a family.”
When her culinary hiatus was complete, Alejandra returned to the university to complete her other studies. She then moved to New York City to work as an editor for Cosmopolitan magazine’s international division.
“It was an amazing job,” she says. “But it was more business than creative.”
Realizing she needed an extra helping of the latter, Alejandra launched her food blog, AlwaysOrderDessert.com.
“The creative outlet started to take over,” she says. In the meantime, she was gaining a reputation for her cooking acumen, and a lot of new friends as a result. “I was always bringing food into the office, and I won a soup contest at the Hearst Tower. I had to take a day off to go and cook for everyone.”
Food is about enjoyment and sharing.Alejandra Ramos
As her foodie sense continued to bubble to the surface, Alejandra began to think she was on the wrong career path. So, she pursued some culinary projects and in April 2011, left the magazine to make the culinary arts “a thing.” She hasn’t regretted her move.
These days, she is as busy as can be, and people are taking notice. NBC News called her a rising Latina food star and Latina magazine dubbed her “one to watch.” Bilingual as a result of her Puerto Rican heritage, Alejandra regularly hosts cooking segments in English and Spanish on the “Today” show and others. She is also a frequent guest of Dr. Oz, who lists her as one of his favorite food bloggers.
So far, she has no desire to stand at the helm of her own restaurant. That would make her miss all the fun, she says.
“Food is about enjoyment and sharing. You can’t do that if you’re in the back preparing the food,” she says. “Plus, I want to eat what I cook, too.”
She and husband, Eugene Smolensky, make their home in New York City with their dog, Hudson Riverton. When Alejandra isn’t cooking or showing us how to create magic in the kitchen, she likes to read and binge-watch internet television.
Most likely while she enjoys a snack.