With more than two decades of culinary experience, SONIC’s Culinary Innovation Manager Erin Buono is in the running for Bon Appétit’s online competition naming the world’s Favorite Chef.
While her cooking journey began in the kitchen of her Mexican grandfather, her move to Barcelona, Spain, at age 15 opened her eyes to another culture around food.
“The fresh food markets and learning the Catalan food culture really helped me find a path in this industry and helped spark the passion to make it a career,” Buono said.
She eventually landed in culinary school and built her career in the local restaurant scene in Oklahoma. Having had that experience locally was ultimately her motivation for joining the Favorite Chef contest, with the winner being awarded $50,000.
“I have been brainstorming about ways to support the restaurant industry, specifically families and workers that have been directly impacted through all of last year during the pandemic,” Buono said. “So to me, Favorite Chef was the perfect opportunity to give back and help those in need, specifically for restaurants that are here in Oklahoma.”
Buono says she’s been blessed by the local restaurant scene in Oklahoma with opportunities that were foundational to building her career in the industry.
“One of my first experiences was in culinary school, doing a presentation for the board of directors and one of them approached me after the meeting with an offer to come get experience in their kitchen,” Buono said. “That was really my first opportunity to get in a kitchen before I’d even graduated and it was really important to helping me understand what that transition would look like. She really took me under her wing and allowed me to continue growing my career and open restaurants throughout Oklahoma and abroad.”
Should Buono win, she’s dedicated funds toward supporting local Oklahoma restaurants with overhead costs, labor costs and bills looming.
“I can think of no better way to give back to the community that’s supported me all these years,” Buono said.
To help Buono move on to the semi-finals of the Favorite Chef competition, vote here.