Mano Calambichis agrees with famed race car driver, "If everything’s under control, you’re going too slow." Throughout his career, Calambichis has relentlessly pursued his passions for cuisine and working with people. Now at the helm of BigChef, he is the company’s culinary genius working alongside wife and business partner, Rosana Santos.
Born in the Belgian Congo (known today as the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Africa) and raised in his parents’ native country of Greece, Calambichis grew up around restaurants and clubs. In 1971, he moved to New York and in 1974, became involved in his first supper club venture with his family. Juggling this business and his studies at New
York University (NYU), this was the first of many projects he would see flourish in his career. By 1976, he obtained his degree in Computer Science and Hotel & Restaurant Management and was on his way to successfully continuing the family tradition. In 1984, Calambichis relocated to Florida to open Ambrosia in Pompano Beach. During his tenure, the restaurant was rated four stars and one of the top 100 restaurants in Florida by food critic Robert Tolf. Desiring a change of pace, Calambichis sold Ambrosia in 1998 and started an energy conservation company, which allowed him to enjoy longer hours with his family and the Florida landscape that surrounded him.
Calambichis’ retirement from the restaurant business was short-lived because six years later, he became involved in two more restaurants, with one opening just prior to September 11, 2001. For most companies across the United States, the tragic day marked a dramatic change in business and income. By 2002, Calambichis decidedly withdrew himself from these projects, taking time to examine new opportunities.
"Follow your dreams - believe in yourself - don’t give up," says Calambichis. Abiding by his own words of wisdom, he became part owner of BigChef in 2003. Inspired by his 14 year old son Phillipe who is creative and innovative with recipes, Calambichis’ constant search for perfection and his interest in the culinary arts fuels his profession. He is someone who is transparent in his enthusiasm for BigChef, working hard to grow the brand nationally and globally.
In his spare time, Calambichis enjoys cooking at home, traveling and reading.
ROSANA SANTOS CARVALHO CALAMBICHIS
"Experience and travel - these are as education in themselves" taught Euripides, the Greek playwright. This doctrine is fundamental to Rosana Santos’ success.
Santos’ drive to become a successful entrepreneur began as a young girl. A Brazilian native raised in the metropolis of Sao Paulo, she obtained her degree in Family Law at PUC-SP. Believing in education beyond the classroom, she traveled, residing in Cali, Colombia and Angola, Africa. In 1991, Santos moved to Florida. Ultimately, her understanding of different cultures enhanced her knowledge of international business and fed her appreciation of world cuisine.
Inspired by her mother’s accomplishments as an award-winning chef and published cookbook author and her father’s successful attitude and leadership; Santos decided to combine her business expertise and food interest with Calambichis, her partner, restaurant and people experience; leading to the acquisition of BigChef in November 2003. By 2004, she obtained an MBA in Global Business Management at UOP in Fort Lauderdale.
"With vision you can succeed in anything you do," explains Santos with regard to her success.
"If you have natural talent the journey is easier, but if you don’t, you acquire it along the way and are much better for it."
Santos firmly believes in integrating with the community. The outgoing entrepreneur has taken on leadership roles in numerous organizations of distinction as well as sponsored several events. Rosana is the 2010 President-elect of Women in Ecommerce; she was selected for the First Pathway to Prosperity in the Americas in Washington, DC one of four Americans among women’s entrepreneurs from 14 countries. She honored by the Entrepreneur Council as a Broward Alliance 2009 Economic Development Leadership Award Recipient for her leadership role in touting Women and Minority Businesses throughout South Florida. Santos was a finalist for the South Florida Minority Women Business Owner of the Year 2007 - NAWBO; she has been distinguished with the "Volunteer of the Year 2005-2006 Award" for the Broward Alliance and "Entrepreneur of the Year -2002" by the Women’s Council of the "Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce".
Santos’ passion for dining extends beyond work to her personal life, making entertaining guests a favorite past time. In addition to creating tasty treats with her son, Philipe Carvalho, and her husband and partner, Mano Calambichis, she continues to travel, enjoys golf and strolling along the beach.
MARIA DO ROSÁRIO SILVA SANTOS
Gastronomic inspiration of BigChef
Rosario’s early memories of childhood were at father’s bakery, he was a baker and pastry chef and she used to admire his bread and cake creations. Since an early age she started playing with bread dough and molding her own little houses, dolls, and animals... with time she started adding other ingredients such as coconut, nuts, fruits, and creating different forms even caricatures of well known celebrities.
By her 10th birthday, she was already baking birthday cakes from scratch with fruit filling and decorating them. As times passes, she improves and starts accepting requests for tarts, pies, appetizers and bonbons for special events such as weddings and other celebrations.
Rosario was awarded at Concurso Culinário, by Companhia Uniao do Refinadores, in São Paulo-S.P.- Brazil in 1970. Ofício Nº 70|2347 her award-wining recipe ’DOCINHO DE CASTANHA DO PARÁ’, was later published at magazine Revista Cláudia.
In 1985, her book "CULINARIA DEL BRAZIL" was published in Cali-Colombia, rejoiced by Consulate of Brazil and sponsored by major Food Companies. Later, Rosario was invited as guest Chef to prepare the most famous Brazilian dish, FEIJOADA, in Cali-Colombia.
She has taught cooking classes in São Paulo-S.P.Brasil, in Cali, Colômbia and in Angola, África.
Rosario in her own words...
What keeps you going, how do you stay motivated?
What gives me the greatest motivation, my driving force are the apparent obstacles I face and my desire to surpass them. What keeps me going is my passion for life and all it entails; it is the wish of creating something new and promoting cultural events. Researching the history of a municipality and its people... it may culminate with a publication of a book, I am always active. Upon completion of any activity-it is one more milestone I have reached.
What significant partnerships have played a role in your success?
If I may consider as partners the masters, mentors, relatives and colleagues I have had, all of them had a significant presence in my successful career. Still touched, I am proud to share that one of my colleagues published a book entitled "Poetry in Cordel" about me; and, Carmo, the city I grow up in Rio de Janeiro, had a "samba" song theme of Carnival about my life.
What’s the one thing you’d like to accomplish before you leave the earth?
Good pattern of solidarity, respect to others and love-kindness to all my offspring.
Good pattern of solidarity, respect to others and love-kindness to all my offspring. " ...Wish is the arch potent power; the strength that impels us forward from the decision taken on our mind. Therefore, if you have planned something - Go for it!"
Read the complete interview at www.wecai.org/WEMagazineSummer2008.pdf