Creative Founder - rise restaurant
Hedda Gioia Dowd
I had a childhood that from birth set my trajectory. I had a French mother and a father who was born in America from Sicilian parents. Food was the “raison d'être” in our family. Every day from the time I can remember I had the pleasure of coming home from school to aromas that emanated from our kitchen and were mesmerizing. My mother would perform magic daily in the kitchen and those meals have imprinted me for life.
Every summer we would go to France to visit my grandparents where only French was spoken. In my grandmother and mother’s kitchen, they always made savory souffles & added a green salad as a complete evening meal.
The details of the concept for rise came to me in 2005 on a plane ride home from France. I thought in the 18th-century souffles were discovered. Children loved them then, they will love them now. It is an egg in a celebratory form, savory and sweet. Why couldn’t this be a business?
Where do you turn for inspiration now? What are some current sources of inspiration?
During my childhood in France, I saw all types of relationships going to the marche with my grandfather. Food was center of all those people’s lives. I wanted children to have that at rise, no need for electronic devices, just conversations. This is something that continues to please me today.
So many who have have grown up through this restaurant are now coming back here for high school graduations, their bridal showers, and their baby showers—that’s the legacy we have built. It means something to so many different people of all ages. People come here and really feel that this is a place to have our standard of food experiences and create generational memories while learning to engage.
What has been the hardest lesson you have had to learn in your career?
Whether it is a souffle restaurant, or your dream to be a designer of the most successful line in the country, an environmental lawyer, or you are still figuring out your path, there is no fast track. There are no Cliffs Notes.
Who do you feel like has been the most influential woman in your life?
There have been several. They happen to all be French. My mother, my grandmother, and my great aunt. My great aunt owned a jewelry store in Geneva. She was one of the smartest retailers I have met in my life. I spent a summer with her when I was 9 and she taught me everything about how to engage with customers.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Firstly, there is nothing more valuable than time. There is no excuse for being late. Secondly, I believe failure is the best teacher of all, do not dwell on a mistake, look at it, learn from it, and keep moving forward.
What advice do you have for young women starting their careers?
Don’t whine. Stop waiting for someone to knock on your door, if you really want it, go get it. I don’t think you need to be young.
You are a big traveler, what do you enjoy most about visiting so many new places?
I have discovered the older you get, the less you really need in terms of material things. It’s not because I don’t love beautiful things, I do, it’s just that I get focused on other things when you are able to see so much of the world. Everything in life is so full and rewarding if you are just open.
Stop waiting for someone to knock on your door, if you really want it, go get it.
What is your favorite thing about Mi Golondrina? How does it fit into your lifestyle?
The story behind Mi Golondrina is one of my favorite parts. Everyone should know about these amazing artisan women. Who are they? What are their stories? What are their techniques? That is something so unique to Mi Golondrina that Cristina has found, supports, and shares.
What I love about wearing Mi Golondrina is how artistically new each piece is. I am able to wear Mi Golondrina to work and as I travel & work in France, I am able to show the French women these lovely designs.
What is the best thing you have ever eaten?
That is an impossible question. I have had so many unbelievable meals. I would include food made by my mother & grandmother.
There is this place I go in France that is owned by a dear couple. I call them both original chefs. We go mushroom hunting together in their woods. They make the best French cassoulet; they live off the land. The farmers in the southwest region of France can show you more ways to cook something than any area I have ever been to.
What is your favorite thing about cooking at home?
First and foremost, I need to cook the way some people need to shop. I love to buy something I have never heard of that will take me out of my comfort zone, it forces me to taste and cook things I have never tried. Play new music, try new wine, where else can you have this much fun?