Sophia Dias is an all-around catch of charitable works, gourmet cooking, and stylish to a tee! How were we so lucky to catch up with this triple threat?
Trust, it wasn't easy! But-
It was definitely worth it.
Sophia, a fashion designer, and a gourmet chef, is as well a connoisseur of words. During a sit down with us, she spills a few beans on passion, drive, and how her worldview shaped her into the extraordinary entrepreneur she is today.
TSW: Hello, Sophia! It's such a pleasure to chat with you. There is so much we would like to talk about, so let just jump in there. Ok, we fully understand that you are an amazing woman with tons of milestones under your belt, but we want to go back in time. Just a bit - and meet young Sophia, before she was designing stunning eyewear, making executive decisions for DIAS, and cooking up five-star meals as a world-renowned chef. Introduce me to 6-year-old Sophia Dias.
SD: The 6-year-old me would be found in Surrey, England. I was perpetually climbing trees and playing cricket at that time.
TSW: Climbing trees? Honestly, that sounds like fun! I would not be upset with pressing a rewind button to be able to do that once again myself! So, your liveliness and enjoyment seem to be instilled from youth. Noting your accomplishments today and your broad smile, it is safe to say those enjoyable moments contributed to laying today's foundation. Sophia, you are a lady of many talents. How do you view your abilities- cooking and design in serving the world?
SD: Food is, and will always remain, a very important factor in my life. I've studied the culinary arts throughout the world in the cities of Kingston (Jamaica), Luzern (Switzerland), Sardinia (Italy), Istanbul (Turkey), Paris (France), Lisbon (Portugal), Sydney (Australia), Shanghai and Hong Kong (China). I even took classes at the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Chicago (United States). In each of those countries, I took the time to visit and service the poor and distraught on the streets of those cities. I serve God by serving His people, and I give those in need some of the most incredibly delicious food I can. I want to give them something out of the ordinary.
In fact, on Monday, July 27th, with the help of the Salamanca Group - the owner is a good friend of mine and owns about fifty taco trucks - he'll be donating one of his food trucks so that I can distribute food in one of the more challenging parts of Chicago.
TSW: Wow! That's a fantastic feat. Thank you to you and the Salmanaca Group for reaching out and helping individuals in need. I'm not much of a cook myself. I enjoy great food; however, when you're talking gourmet cooking – count me out! I can tell you when you experience a meal that has been prepared in love and passion, it is a sensory take over In the best way. And for that, I am always appreciative. I think it's incredible that you devote such genuine thought and passion in providing delicious meals to those who need them. Giving of your heart through cooking to those in need seems to be a significant fulfillment to you, and it is indeed noble. What encouraged your involvement in your many charitable works?
SD: From a very young age, when I was in boarding school, it was emphasized that giving to others was fulfilling. I can honestly tell you that giving to those in impoverished communities is one of my greatest joys.
TSW: Yes! I can agree to that testament. It is an exceptional joy when you can help others from the purity of the desire to help another, with no strings attached. Sophia, lady, you are amazing, and we are loving you more and more by the minute!
SD: I have about a hundred stories I could tell you!
TSW: Tell us more! We definitely have the time to listen. How about this? Tell us about an encounter that changed the outlook of one aspect of your life.
SD: A more recent story took place in either 2013 or 2014. I was at O'Hare Airport waiting to catch a flight to Tokyo and sitting in the lounge when three big, robust, and intimidating men came into the lounge with a small woman. Next thing I know, I'm sitting ten-yards away from Justice Sonia Sotomayor. I asked her, "How do I, a civilian from another country, address a judge in America?" She smiled and said, "You can just call me Ms. Sotomayor." I said, "No, I have to call you, Judge." She took it in stride. We started discussing food and got into a long conversation about our favorite meals, which helped pass the time in an airport.
They had a buffet in the lounge, and we went to go have dinner. We arrived at the buffet, and she handed me a plate and said to me, "You need to try this salmon." And served me helping of smoked salmon. Now, me, a chef who has studied cooking in more countries than most, just got served salmon by a Justice of the United States Supreme Court! We had dinner together and had a lovely conversation. By that time, her book "My Beloved World" had already been a best-seller which I had read. Before leaving, I ran off to one of the duty-free shops and bought three copies of the book and asked her to sign them. One of those books I purchased for my daughter, Shaday, and Judge Sotomayor wrote in it, "Follow your heart."
This exchange really touched me because Justice Sotomayor was so down to Earth that it was really inspiring. I've met and made friends with a handful of people who have reached "household name" status, but Judge Sotomayor was one of the most honest exchanges I've ever had in my life.
TSW: Listen, I am floored. How amazing is this? The Judge Sotamyer and you casually having smoke salmon and chatting! I've decided you, and I are traveling in pairs going forward! Haha! That is literally a story for the books! Speaking of books, you just recently had a new book take its place on the shelves, Sábio: A Culinary Journey: Recipes from Goa, Istanbul, Paris and Around the World. I'm convinced it's filled with tasty dishes shaped by your globally influenced taste buds. While I am sure experimenting and creating delicious meals are fun, I do wonder how do you create new recipes?
SD: I use my friends as guinea pigs! I often entertain in my home, and I love trying new dishes with a group of people.
TSW: Haha! Now, that's funny. Hey, its all a part of the price of friendship, right? At least taste bud royalty comes out the mix! Like I said, I don't cook a lot at all; however, the cooks in my life swear by the notion that the right season for a dish is vital. What's your take on pairing the perfect seasonings with the right dish?
SD: I'm an admirer of Anthony Bourdain. In fact, I got to meet him in Istanbul - another moment ingratiated in my memory. I've read Kitchen Confidential sixty times. Maybe seventy? One of the keys he emphasizes is too, "Make the effort." The idea that a single piece of green, be it parsley or a leaf, simply laying on the dish can make your meal look very special.
Therefore, I will take anything fresh, be it rosemary, parsley or oregano, I'll put that in a dish, and it will change the dish entirely. Again, it must be fresh!
TSW: Your next book should be tales of the fabulous people you have met in passing - think about it! Well, Sophia, it has been phenomenal catching up with you. I want to do one last bout of fun before you head out. I think you already guessed it – TSW Fire Round!
TSW: Jet or plane?
TSW: Wine or champagne?
TSW: Your favorite dish?
SD: Rainbow trout.
TSW: How can people reach you?