Paola Velez


Years of Participation


Award-winning Chef Paola Velez is the co-founder of Bakers Against Racism and the former Executive Pastry Chef at Michelin Starred Maydan. Raised in New York City and the Dominican Republic, she is a fierce advocate for equitably sourced food and sustainability, she focuses on using her resources to help uplift her communities and make impactful change.

Paola graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in 2009 and started her culinary career under Jacques Torres’ tutelage, spending two years as a Sous Chef at his 40,000-square-foot production kitchen in Brooklyn. In 2016, Paola moved to Washington, DC to work with celebrated Chef Christina Tosi at MilkBar, then as Lead Pastry Cook at critically acclaimed Arroz. Paola then served as the Pastry Chef at Iron Gate Restaurant in 2018, Kith/Kin in 2019, and most recently as the Executive Pastry Chef of the renowned Compass Rose and Michelin-starred Maydan.

After leaving Kith/Kin, Paola co-founded Doña Dona, a Latin American popup to benefit Ayuda DC, an organization that supports the restaurant industry’s undocumented workforce, and later co-founded Bakers Against Racism, a viral bake sale that has raised over $2.5M for social justices causes worldwide.

In 2020, Paola was named a finalist for the James Beard Foundation Rising Star Award and earned “Pastry Chef of the Year'' awards from both Esquire Magazine and the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW). In 2021, Paola was named one of FOOD & WINE’s “Best New Chefs”, The Art of Plating’s “Rising Talent”, Time Out’s “People of the Year”, Cherry Bombe’s “Person of the Year”, and Instyle Magazine’s “Women Making the World a Better Place”. She also earned both Emmy and Webby nominations for her work with AJ+.

Paola has been featured on the covers of Washingtonian magazine (twice), Cherry Bombe, FSR and District Fray. Her recipes have been highlighted in various outlets including People Magazine, FOOD & WINE, Washington Post, Eater, National Post (Canada), Robb Report, Dwell and more. Paola has also presented at numerous events including at the James Beard House, the Star Chefs Congress, and Yale’s Sustainable Food Program.