Some chefs grow up amidst the romance of food. But Taria Camerino grew up in a home where food was merely a way to stay alive. Her mother had to cook, feeding her family while working full time for very little money. When her mom began working for the African and Asian Language Departments at the University of Florida, Camerino’s life changed; some of her fondest memories and most formative lessons happened and she made friends from all over the world. As a 10 year old, Camerino became curious about different cuisines—and she wasn’t afraid to try new flavors. She also understood, even at a young age, that food was an essential way for families to stay united. It became her way to embrace the world around her.
At 17, it became clear that food would be Camerino’s life. After reading an article about Chocolatier Stanton Ho and seeing his work, she chose pastry as her medium. Training for this career was hard to come by in her hometown of Gainesville, Florida, but Camerino began to work in any position available in the local food industry. Understanding the limits of the location, she made the move to Miami and found further inspiration from the new flavors Cuban pastries had to offer.
But it was in Tallahassee that Camerino began her professional training, as an apprentice to a local French pastry chef. His meticulous nature, in both his work and philanthropy, inspired Camerino to work and live well—though it took many years and a variety of struggles for her to understand what that would mean. It turns out it meant one thing: chocolate. Spending the last five years as a dedicated chocolatier at her Sugar-Coated Radical, Camerino has developed a unique ability to tell her story in the medium of cacao, which earned her the 2012 Rising Star distinction. Focusing on flavors that exist in small plantations and single origin chocolates, her work highlights the awareness of ethically sourced ingredients and the narrative of the farmer’s life and land—it’s food as life, and so much more. And in the summer of 2012, Camerino took the position of corporate pastry chef for 2007 Atlanta Rising Star Chef Ford Fry's Rocket Farms Restaurant Group, taking control of the sweet menu at his three restaurants, The Optimist, JCT. Kitchen & Bar, and No. 246.