Mac Daniel Dimla turned 24 just a few days ago, but he is already finding fulfillment and success as the executive pastry chef in a well-known Los Angeles restaurant.
“Providence is where you go to for a very special occasion,” Dimla said of the two-Michelin-starred restaurant co-owned by chef Michael Cimarusti, winner of the prestigious 2019 James Beard Award.
Dimla, who graduated from Simon Sanchez High School in 2014, said surrounding himself with other talented people is key to professional growth.
“Go to a place where people know more than you. Where you can take in all the knowledge,” he said.
But Dimla is also making a name for himself. He was recently featured by Food and Wine Magazine and dubbed a “pastry prodigy.”
His introduction to the culinary field came in high school when he enrolled in the ProStart program run by the Guam Community College and developed by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.
Baking and pastries weren’t immediately on Dilma’s radar: At first, he was focused on the savory side of culinary arts.
“I had a secret love for baking and pastries, but I just shrugged that away because I just felt like it wasn’t something I would be doing in the long term. I just wanted to do savory at that time.”
After graduating from the esteemed Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley, a friend asked him to lend a hand in the pastry department where they worked at the time and Dimla couldn’t ignore the pull any longer.
“Every time I am working with bread or dough I just lose track of time and I just go with it – my entire focus is on that,” he said.
Now, Dimla said he is fixated on improving on his passion. “I want to deepen that experience and knowledge and technique,” he said.
To that end, Dimla said he tries to put the inspirations in his head onto an actual plate as much as possible. And inspiration for Dimla can strike as he is walking home from the subway, roaming the local farmers' markets or just sitting on his couch at home.
“You can have all the creativity in the world but if you don’t work on it, it doesn’t really mean anything, and it doesn’t go anywhere. I’m lucky at Providence I get (an outlet for) that creativity,” he said.
Will Dimla bring his passion and creativity back to Guam? Right now, he said he is not sure, but he is not ruling out possibly opening a bakery one day on the island where he grew up.
But he does have some advice to send home to other young people here looking to make their mark on the world.
“Find something that you are passionate about. Keep working on it,” he said. Eventually, “it will come naturally.”