I Used to Be Somebody: (Un)Retirement Lessons Learned

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Robin Pajaro Interview: Former Chef Gets Her Groove Back!

Diana Landau | November 16, 2021

Carl interviews Robin Pajaro, a former head chef for Ritz Carlton, a private chef on yachts, a hypnotherapist, owner of Coco’s Cocktail Caravan and so much more. What’s important to know about Robin is she embraces change and is unafraid to try new endeavors—which is why she seems to be successful at whatever she sets out to do.
 
FUN FACT: Robin’s mother was the first Alice in Wonderland at Disneyland. She became Walt Disney’s stewardess on his private jet and was there when they found that Florida property. To learn more about some of Walt’s eccentricities and the secret Club 33, you'll have to listen to the podcast!
 
Robin grew up in Laguna Beach, an only child to a single mother. Her mother was a big exec at Kodak who loved to cook and entertain. “I really owe a lot to her for my love of cooking and entertaining,” Robin says, “she always included me in it. Cooking eventually became my passion and I took it a step further.” Robin says she was a rebellious, adventurous teen that managed to stay out of trouble. At age 19 in community college, she was in a serious car accident and lost her short-term memory for months. The struggle to get back to normal made her think, “Maybe there’s something bigger out there for me.”
 
She jumped at an opportunity to go to South Africa for 3 months. “It was a special time (in South Africa),” she says. “Nelson Mandela had just been released from prison and it was great to see all the change happen.”  Three years later, after backpacking all over the continent with friends, Robin took a job in Boston aboard a private yacht with the hopes of attending culinary school. “I just winged it,” she laughs. She says the family was very kind and the job was fun. Then she attended culinary school in Pasadena, closer to home.
 
Robin interned for Ritz Carlton and eventually became head chef at their Laguna Niguel property. It was the 1990’s, the pay was not so great and the field was entirely male-dominated. She worked hard to be respected and tells us she felt like a pioneer for women in her industry. Later, when she met her husband, she left the chef-world to become a mother, raising two daughters. But she never really stopped working, trying on completely new ventures—including a time as a certified hypnotherapist, adolescent alcohol and drug counselor, competing in a triathlon, even a stint as pastry chef at a doggie bakery.
 
While working at the doggie bakery, she re-discovered her passion for cooking. “Doing that creative work again and having full control of it really reminded me how much I loved cooking. I asked, "Now that I have my passion back, what do I want to do?” She became interested in mobile-entertaining and the possibility of working with so many different kinds of people intrigued her. Robin and her husband found a gutted out 1970’s retro trailer and after some remodeling and planning launched “Coco’s Cocktail Caravan.” “I love this business, seeing people’s faces light up. And it’s so much fun—we’ve done Barks & Brews for a good cause, weddings, business openings, even a disco party!”
 
 Robin’s (Un)retirement Tips:
  • “Figure out what you don't want to do, that’s half the trouble.” 
  • “Finding your passion (or rediscovering it in some way, like I did), and being 100% confident in your expertise, you can’t fail. Just take the leap!”
  • “When you're in your joy, your bliss --and making money too, what more do you want?!”

• Learn more about Robin Pajaro
• Sponsored by LoveMyHeartStudy.com
• Sponsored by Capital Advantage
Diana Landau is the Content Wrangler for Pickleball Media. After 15 years in corporate marketing, in 2012 she pivoted to write and wrangle content for Niche Media's weekly blog. She now manages the “I Used to Be Somebody” weekly blog.
Tags:    blog   unretirement   robin pajaro   chef   hypnotherapy   embracing change   passions  

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