Frank Proto

Frank Proto

Instructor of Wilton Public Schools

Some of the best lessons I’ve learned throughout the years have come from making mistakes. Mistakes should always be an opportunity to learn and grow. I consistently tell my students that it is ok to make mistakes as long as you use them to get better at your craft.

A job that has impacted my career is my last restaurant job, where I was an executive chef. We had weekly meetings with all of the chefs and general managers. I would learn something at every meeting. They made the effort to educate and teach. Even though I had been a chef for many years, they highlighted that you never stop learning.
Try to stay cool, calm, and collected. If you look like you are out of control, your employees will follow suit.
I keep my team inspired and motivated by listening to their ideas, letting them experiment with new methods, and empowering them to make decisions.
Maintaining a healthy work/life balance is the one most difficult things to do in the food service industry. Take breaks when you can, shut off emails and texts from work when you are home, train and empower your staff to make decisions when you aren’t there.
When hiring, I look for candidates who show a willingness to learn and push their limits, to improve their skill sets.
Being able to pass along 24 years of knowledge and experience to a new generation of chefs keeps me motivated.
I have always wanted to be a chef. As a child, food was an important part of my life. I can’t remember a time when I wanted to do anything else. It took a few years working in the industry for me to settle in and find my groove.
Patience, being able to listen and retain information, understanding that everyone needs something different from you as a teacher/manager and being able to adapt to their needs are the most important skills to possess.
I read about food every day, I experiment in the kitchen weekly. I research things I am interested in. I travel when I can and make it a point to try things that aren’t familiar to me. I seek out food and experiences outside of my comfort zone and authentic to the place I am visiting.
I could not do my job without my iPad. I keep all of my lesson plans, notes, contacts and ideas on it.
The most essential books and publications for our profession: The Meat Buyers Guide, Becoming a Chef, Larousse Gastronomique, On Food and Cooking, The Joy of Cooking, The Fannie Farmer Cookbook and Saveur magazine.

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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