Rosa Ficara | Ep 128

Photo: Laura Crane

At the age of six, Rosa Ficara had her first experience with desert - her family had just moved to the desert from Waterbury, CT. Rosa doesn’t recall much about the move other than the fact that the desert was much warmer than those Connecticut winters.

As the first-born of Italian immigrants, Rosa spoke Italian (two dialects) before she spoke English. At that time, this area of the desert wasn’t extremely diverse and in school, Rosa found herself befriending schoolmates in a similar situation – one was Japanese-American and the other was Korean-American.

At 17, Rosa was ready to leave the desert and explore, heading down to University of California Riverside to study language. In addition to two dialects of Italian, she also speaks French, Spanish, and English.

While at college, Rosa sometimes brought friends or roommates back to the desert to visit and was surprised to hear how cool they thought it was that she grew up here. Rosa says, “I started to appreciate the desert through their eyes.”

In this episode, Rosa describes a few of her global experiences while still in college, then in a work program, working for a bank in Switzerland, among other roles and locations.

On her return to the U.S. she settled in Culver City – near Los Angeles – where she discovered Salsa dancing, which has become one of her greatest passions.

While in the LA area she felt the urge to change her career path and enrolled in the California School of Culinary Arts Cordon Bleu in Pasadena. She thrived in the program until she was injured in a car accident the day of her baking final. Attempting to complete the final with a cast on her right arm proved impossible and though she made it to the International Cuisine curriculum, never officially graduated from the program. If you’ve ever had the opportunity to enjoy Rosa’s cooking, you know she’s put her education to good use.

Rosa and her business partner, Merilee Kuchon will soon open Roadrunner Grab & Go, a cold kitchen situated adjacent to the Joshua Tree National Park Visitor Center.

Having returned to the desert in 2004, Rosa has gained an appreciation for the grounding nature that is right outside her door and finds herself now enjoying the bounty it has to offer. And now she photographs the snakes, instead of running away from them.

Follow Roadrunner Grab & Go on Instagram.