I am Sybil Alana, a chef – writer – retailer- tour manager – mother, all rolled into one.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11
If I were to define a cornerstone of my life, it would be these very words. It was in Paterson, New Jersey that I – Sybil Alana – graced this beautiful planet on the 27th of January, 1968. Having received my high school diploma from Eastside High School, I expected life ahead to be predictable. What I did not realize was that the events to come could not have been more contradictory. The Lord definitely had exciting plans for me.
Currently located in New York/ New Jersey, I am what you could refer to as ‘Queen of Many Trades’. On my part, I would prefer to justify this eclectic lifestyle as my testimony.
Whatever I have stepped into, I have handled with fervor and excellence to the best of my abilities. All along, the Lord’s guidance has served as a beacon, prompting me to explore new opportunities with confidence and integrity.
With the US Navy and Beyond
Continuing with my narrative, for an 18-year old youngster, nothing beats the pride of being chosen to serve my country. I, Sybil Alana, was no exception to this rule and regarded my appointment into the US Navy as being the ultimate honor. Soon I was promoted to the rank of an airplane captain. All through my tenure, edicts like discipline, leadership and commitment were drilled into my system, so much so that they became a part of my very existence.
Deeply rooted as these values are, they have been the foundation that has guided and directed me ever since. Unfortunately my tenure with the US Navy did not last very long. I sustained an injury that led me to give up the service and move on. Heart-broken at the time, I regarded this turning point as an end of an era for me, not knowing that it was actually the beginning.
When the Lord shuts one door, he opens another. In my case, he did not just open another door, but also a window. His favor and his grace, both led to a spectrum of spectacular opportunities spanning a variety of fields. Just as I stepped out of my naval uniform, the first opportunity that came knocking was from the entertainment industry.
Success in Showbiz, Business and Real Estate
Tentatively I stepped into the world of entertainment, only to become sure-footed over a period of time. Taking up one offer after another meant that I was busy round-the-clock, never really missing the life in uniform. From appearing in popular soaps to commercials, life for me was at its glamorous best. Some renowned banners that I was associated with were ‘Sex in the City’, ‘As the World Turns’, Colgate and Nickelodeon.
But once again, I felt the need to move on. As my next initiative, I educated myself how to restore antique furniture. Setting up shop was easy, what was more challenging was to get people to be aware of it. The fun of working with wood and owning my own business brought me great pleasure. Also, seeing the joy on my customer’s face, of their restored family heirlooms made it all worthwhile.
Tasting success in a venture that I had founded and literally started from scratch made me believe in my abilities. More importantly, it instilled within me self-confidence in a way that I had never experienced before. For the first time in my life, I believed in my ability to run a commercial business and excel in it. The next question was – if it worked for furniture, why not real estate?
Aggravation of my service-sustained injury caused me to close up shop and pursue other endeavors. A few years previously, I had bought my first house with my income tax return, after my landlord decided to sell our home. However, a series of unfortunate events led me into home ownership. So, I decided to enter the real estate market again, but this time in NYC as a license real estate agent. I was fortunate enough to secure employment at one of the top real estate brokerage firms in the city. Selling million-dollar condos/coops and high end rentals was such a thrill… until the market crashed.
Honing My Culinary Skills
So I cut my losses – I had lost 70K in pending commission and my home in the same year – and decided to pursue my passion, namely cooking. I had the privilege of training at some of the leading institutes around the world. Pursuance of culinary perfection started with NYC, at the International Culinary Center in the Italian program. This led me to Italy – to Alma– La Scuola Internazionale Di Cucina Italiana – and to Thailand – Phuket Thai Cookery School.
Cooking has never been new to me. I started cooking when I became a mom at a tender age of 16 years and I have been at it ever since. However, training has enabled me to hone my skills and move closer to attaining culinary perfection. Earlier, my objective with cooking was to provide nourishment to my family. Now it is for the sake of deriving gratification for having come up with a perfect culinary experience.
I started volunteering at the NYC Food &Wine Festival, which has a way of giving back to the community. It is a worthwhile charity event, where the proceeds go to feed the hungry in the city. Also, the fun involved in being a part of an event which celebrates culinary creativity and talent just felt great.
Explaining ‘Sybil’ and ‘Alana’
‘Sybil’ means prophetess, and ‘Alana’ is a Polynesian word, meaning beautiful offering. In Christian theology, the Sibyls were thought to have divine knowledge and were revered in much the same way as the Old Testament prophets. As a child I often found myself at the receiving end of the teasing gang at school. I grew up hating my name, only to realize one day that it defined my core identity.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew[a] you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” – Jeremiah 1:5
The Lord himself had named me as such, because he wanted me to do his bidding. So, my journey is far from over. Going ahead, I’m in the process of publishing my first children’s book, launching an Italian tour company and also an Italian online shoe store.
Till then, it is Sybil Alana bidding adieu with God Bless and in good faith.