“When I was a kid, I worked in a small French café helping out the owner. As I watched her interact with customers and saw how much she cared about every transaction, I learned that having a restaurant is all about being hospitable. I love to work with and for people who genuinely care about what we do. I never take this for granted, life is too short and special – it is so important to show that we truly care for people.„
I opened my first restaurant Django in Philly when the city was in need of authentically food-driven restaurants. It quickly became a well-known establishment in town. A few years later, we decided to sell it and I moved back close to home to open Talula’s Table, in Chester County, PA. It was one of the first hybrid restaurants: it is a restaurant and a gourmet market that sells cheese, coffee, wine, and beer. I wanted to showcase all aspects of the culinary world, having worked front of house and being a trained chef. Talula’s Table is now 11 years and we were just nominated for Outstanding Restaurant for the 2018 James Beard Awards!
My newest restaurant is called The Love (opened in partnership with Stephen Starr) because love is the most important ingredient in what we do. It’s not about how fancy or how molecular you get, but it’s about the care of the hospitality industry. Whether you’re in service or culinary, you need love to create a great dining experience.
You have to always keep learning. This job requires dedication and self-motivation. Set high expectations and make good choices that will expose you to good places and businesses. Stay focused – we work in a very social industry that is constantly changing.
Food is one of the most creative arts. Just as one can find love anywhere, great jobs can be found in the most interesting places and there is a lot to learn in different places, so keep an open mind at all times.
I look for people who are grounded emotionally and physically healthy before they come to me. You need to be a well-balanced individual to work in this industry – don't forget to take care of yourself! We make people healthy and happy for a living, it's important that you feed yourself and eat well first.
I try to create a healthy workplace for my staff by giving them a lot of independence and letting them be themselves. At Talula’s Garden, every day at 3pm, we have a wonderful staff meal. People can come eat whether they’re working that day or not. We don’t have uniforms for our front of house team, people can wear what makes them feel comfortable.
We are very customer-driven. I spend a lot of time in the dining room listening to people and making sure that we respond to their feedback. My guests are so inspiring, many of them are well-traveled and have a very good palate. It is so humbling to wait on someone who is very knowledgeable and a wonderful cook at home.
I love that my job is constantly stimulating. I wouldn’t be able to do the same thing every day. I love the excitement behind different events and the changing seasons, it makes me respond in a positive way to life and keeps my brain moving forward!
Disclaimer: Individuals featured in the Inspirational Career Timelines section have been nominated by peers, colleagues and/or other members of the hospitality industry. It is to the best of our knowledge that each individual has demonstrated leadership and acted as a positive role model for others.
Send Us Your Nominations
NominateSearch industry jobs here
If you know of any extraordinary food, beverage and hospitality professionals who inspire others through their hard work and leadership, nominate them now!
Get Inspired by Industry Leaders
Explore their unique career timelines and advice about what they’ve learned along the way
Pastry & Baking
Wine & Beverage
Office & Admin
James Beard Award