Crystal, a Dayton native, has been been cooking since her childhood. What started as a hobby quickly turned into the passion which paved the path to her eventual career.
Crystal’s childhood memories of the kitchen revolve around her grandma, Clarine Baldwin. She can recall standing at her grandma’s side as Clarine would cook Southern family favorites from scratch, such as chicken and dumplings or cornbread. Crystal was completely enamored by Clarine’s ability to transform things as simple as flour and eggs into healing and delicious meals which would then be celebrated by family and friends.
Crystal would later go on to pursue Culinary Arts at the Miami Valley Career Technology Center in Clayton, Ohio, graduating in 2008. She worked in several kitchens, both corporate and local before eventually finding her place as Sous Chef at Wheat Penny Oven and Bar. The passion for food and people displayed at Wheat Penny by its owners Elizabeth Wiley, Elizabeth Valenti, and Dave Rawson resonated with Crystal. The message is simple and powerful: Cook great food for great people.
After entering the showdown in 2016, making it the finals in 2017, in 2018 Crystal walked away with the $500 grand prize and bragging rights. Right after her win, we asked her to answer our Chef 10 Questions and here are her answers:
What is your favorite ingredient to cook with?
Challenge yourself and accept that you’re going to mess some things up. Cooking should be fun, and you should explore it.
Hmmm… I don’t have a good answer for that. I really enjoy sharing food with people, that’s why I do this work. So really, anyone who genuinely appreciates good food.
A lot of people, but in particular Dave Rawson. He is so knowledgeable but very modest. I try to model my management style after him. He’s a really spectacular chef and mentor.
I hang out with my wonderful wife, Marysa and we like seeing movies, going to dinner, going to museums or just hanging on the couch with our dog.