Dan Kluger

Dan Kluger

Cookbook Author, Chef & Owner at Hardscrabble Hospitality

I am most inspired by the process of what goes into the entire dining experience, from the food, to the staff, to the guests. I also find testing out new ideas, cooking methods, and flavor combinations for new dishes to be very inspiring and exciting.

I learned the hard way to put my head down and just work.
Chef Floyd Cardoz always reminded me and others that you need to cook from the heart. It is important to be passionate with every dish you put out. It instills in us why we do what we do and you can taste it in the food.
Laying the foundation to create a respected work environment is one of the best commitments to yourself and to your work. People will come and go in the industry, but you cannot treat your staff as just another body in the kitchen. Keeping employee morale and a positive work environment is important and we try hard to make it a part of our culture. I try to take some of our cooks out, once a month, to grab a bite after work and get their feedback and thoughts. But, most of all, it allows them to experience something different. To me, that's important.
The drive, which comes from within, keeps me inspired. But, gratitude goes along way. It can get very busy and hectic from day to day, but when guests and staff express their appreciation and gratitude, you know you’re doing something right. It inspires me to become better.
Laughter keeps me motivated in tough times related to work. The kitchen can get stressful, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyable. Having rapport with the cooks and being able to joke and laugh with them definitely helps to lighten the stressful moments. What we do is important and we take pride in it, but it’s not life and death. We can laugh and enjoy while cooking. That’s the point right?
Tom Colicchio, Floyd Cardoz and Jean-Georges were my mentors. They’ve all taught me different things about the business and becoming a better chef.

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