Chef Eljesa Haxhiu

Eljesa Haxhiu is a young chef on the rise. While working her first job after graduating from culinary school, Chef Haxhiu submitted the grand prize winning recipe in the Maple Leaf Farms 2016 Discover Duck Chef Recipe Contest. Her Mole Duck Taco with Puffed Rice, Avocado Cilantro Puree, Pineapple Radish Salsa and Cotija demonstrated a well-rounded knowledge of duck and the ingredients and preparation methods that complement its qualities.

Chef Haxhiu graduated from Gwinnett Technical School in Lawrenceville, Georgia, and is currently working there under her mentor, Chef Kerri Crean. While a student, she continued to gain culinary experience during an internship at Five & Ten in Athens, where she studied under Chef Jason Zygmont. This internship fueled her passion for food and confirmed her commitment to a culinary career.

Cooking was an important part of Chef Haxhiu's childhood. With roots in Kosovo, some of her earliest food memories include her grandmother and aunts making burek, a savory meat pastry. An emphasis on good food and sharing large meals with an extended group of relatives was tradition.

During culinary school, Chef Haxhiu gained experience cooking with a variety of new ingredients. One of her early experiences with duck came when she entered an American Culinary Federation (ACF) duck competition without knowing anything about the protein’s qualities. A fast learner, Chef Haxhiu quickly developed an understanding of the flavors that pair well with duck, and demonstrated her skill by winning a Maple Leaf Farms culinary student recipe contest. These accomplishments are the result of Chef Haxhiu’s willingness to challenge herself to discover the intricacies of ingredients and expand her culinary repertoire. Her passion and drive will continue to benefit this young chef as she advances in her career.

Chef Haxhiu has discovered firsthand that duck pairs well with a variety of flavors, and encourages others to explore substituting duck in their favorite recipes.