Ask A Chef is a part of an on-going series in which 5280 poses a single question to a local culinary luminary.

Monday’s WomenCook! Dining For a Difference gala gathers Denver’s most talented female chefs to create signature plates for a good cause. Now in its 10th year, the annual event brings many of the city’s best restaurants together to support Work Options for Women, an organization dedicated to providing impoverished women education and job placement in the restaurant industry. 5280 sat down with Carrie Shores, executive chef at Table 6, to talk about her participation in the event.

5280: How did you decide to become a chef, and what does it mean to you to participate in the WOW event and help disadvantaged women study the culinary arts and work in the restaurant industry?

CS: I have been a “food nerd” ever since I was a child. I was always interested in food and cooking and what was going on in my grandma’s kitchen. I would try anything and wasn’t afraid to eat different things. In fact, I had some weird eating habits—like eating raw potato, I thought everybody did that! I was always cooking and experimenting in the kitchen and I knew it was something I wanted to do. I love to cook for people because I get a lot of satisfaction from seeing them eat something they enjoy.

By the time I was a teenager, I was cooking for my family out of necessity. I was raised by my grandparents, and my mother—who was physically and verbally abused and was a recovering drug addict—was coming back into my life at this time. Cooking became an escape for me and I immersed myself in it. It helped me nourish the household, which I was running by the age of 15.

This is the first year I’m partaking in the WOW event, and it means a lot to me to be asked to participate. I’m very excited for the event, and for the chance to give back. Everyone comes from a place that is out of our control, and it’s important to help women get a second chance. I’m drawn to people who have the heart to see that these women deserve the chance to prove themselves.

WomenCook! 2014 takes place at Temple Emanuel (51 Grape St.) from 6–8:30 p.m. on Monday, May 5. Tickets are $125 and can be purchased here.