Alison Cates

Alison Cates

Executive Pastry Chef for Butcher & Bee

This industry is constantly evolving and can never truly be mastered and the fact that there is always something new to learn or to be better at keeps me inspired to excel. There's no room for boredom or being stagnant because there are so many facets to cooking.

I'm loving the fermentation trend. I think the Redzepi and Zilber book is super inspiring and interesting and I am into seeing other chefs’ interpretations of the techniques in the book.
I keep myself educated through the endless amount of books that are available today. I love the deep wormhole of amazon cookbook suggestions and they will often times have great deals on used cookbooks. I also use Instagram to follow other chefs and restaurants that I'm inspired by and see what new techniques and ingredients they are working with.
When hiring, the most important thing to me is just a willingness to learn and a positive attitude. Attention to detail never hurts either.
Work/life balance is something I've never been good at and I'm still working at this today. I try to do little things that force me to slow down. I schedule a pedicure once every couple weeks for myself. I also set my phone to "do not disturb" between certain hours and try to live more in the moment when I'm with my husband and dogs.
The three most important lessons that I have learned in my career are: (1) Ask for help when you need it. If you're not sure about something or confused about a recipe just ask your chef for clarity. It's better to ask than to try and do it alone and make an unnecessary mistake. (2) Write everything down. There is so much to learn in this industry and it's smart to take as much as you can from every chef you work for. Write as many recipes down as you can and ask as many questions as you can. Keeping that active interest and quest for knowledge will come in handy and having a rolodex of recipes from every kitchen you've worked in is such a nice little trick up your sleeve when you start building your own dishes. (3) I think the biggest lesson, is keeping a positive attitude. The days can be long, the work isn't all that glamorous all the time, and you may be stuck making the same sauce over and over week after week, but find a way to stay challenged and positive. Working next to someone with a good attitude is a godsend some days and it's contagious. Look for the good in what we do every day and focus on ways to always be better. Even if it's something as simple as setting up your station five minutes earlier than the day before, or motivating your teammates to hop on one extra cleaning project when it's slow.

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.

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