Cooking Up A Career
Yvette Garfield ’06 savors her career as a cookbook author.
By Asa Pittman
Traveling the world inspired Yvette Garfield ’06 to attend law school, but not to become a lawyer. Instead, the Santa Clara Law graduate parlayed her legal education into a career in cookbook writing. She recently released the second installment of her cookbook series, Handstand Kids Mexican Cookbook.
At 10 years old, Garfield had clear career aspirations: "I wanted to become either a lawyer or a waitress," she remembers. The seemingly disparate vocations, she explains, both require attentiveness to the basic needs of others.
Garfield’s college travels helped her pin down a profession and ignited a passion. A native of San Fernando, Garfield attended the nearby U.C.—Los Angeles, but her psychology and history studies took her far from home. "I studied history in Rome; I visited China, Southeast Asia, and Brazil," she says. On a long flight home from India, she came up with an unconventional gift idea for her young cousins––a cookbook to teach them about the customs, languages, and foods of the countries she visited.
In addition to the idea for a children’s cookbook, Garfield’s experiences abroad sparked in her a curiosity about her own country’s international relations. During her final year of college, she accepted an internship with the White House Office of Public Liaison. "I started the day before 9/11," she says. The tragedy transformed the internship, designed to be an introduction to the workings of the presidential headquarters, into a crash course in public service. "We ended up arranging blood and food drives." she says. The politicians, aides, and lobbyists who helped in the effort, she recalled, all seemed to share a common characteristic: "Everybody and their mother had a law degree."
Following her mentors’ examples, Garfield enrolled at Santa Clara Law as a part-time student. "It was outside of Los Angeles, but not too far from home, and it had a good reputation," she says of her decision to attend. The law school’s international studies program was also a draw. Garfield spent her first summer in the Geneva/Strasbourg program studying human rights in Switzerland and France. "It was amazing to share a classroom with students from around the world," she said.
Garfield’s concern for the preservation of human rights, especially those of children, grew during law school. All three years at Santa Clara Law, she volunteered for Fresh Lifelines for Youth (FLY), mentoring and educating at-risk youth about the law. The summer after her second year of law school, when most students seek out high-paying summer associate positions at law firms, Garfield helped bring child abusers to justice as an intern in the Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section in Washington, D.C. She says she has only one regret about the work, which required her to study the details of horrific crimes committed against those least capable of defending themselves: "I never saw a case from start to finish.
After taking the bar exam, while her classmates nervously awaited their results, Garfield concentrated her energies on her burgeoning cookbook. The idea of Handstand Kids, five young friends from around the world who teach the recipes of their native lands to other kids, had been simmering for three years. "A handstand is a symbol of youth, plus, it’s a symbol of kids taking a stand for their rights," she explains of the concept.
With the help of a nutritionist and a professional chef, Garfield designed the first Handstand Kids book, a compilation of healthy, Italian-inspired dishes simple enough for children to make with minimal adult assistance. In May 2008, she published a Mexican food version, the second installment of what she hopes will be a long-lived and widely received series. "Cooking is a tool that unites us. Through the books I want to create a global community for kids."
Though Garfield does not practice law, she credits the lessons she learned at Santa Clara Law for her success in the cookbook community. "I have contracts with everyone I do business with, and thanks to law school, I can read and understand the documents and negotiate terms. I feel fortunate to have attended Santa Clara Law."
For further information about Yvette Garfield and to order Handstand Kids books, visit www.handstandkids.com.
ASA PITTMAN is a student at Santa Clara Law.