I cannot imagine doing my job without my team! They are everything to me, it’s make it or break it without them. They push me and I push them. None of this would be my reality without them! Oh, and I can’t forget about patience.
When hiring, I look for the can-do attitude, the passion, the enthusiasm, and the want to work on the team. I always have any candidate stage for a day. This show me how they intermingle with the staff, which is a determining factor of my decision to hire them or not. You have to want to participate, contribute, educate, and learn if you want to be on our team.
I keep my team motivated and inspired with my energy. I try to bring a warm and positive energy into the kitchen every day. I also make a huge effort to have a personal relationship with each cook on my team, and to know their strengths, weaknesses, and goals, in order to push them to keep them working towards their goals. This also allows me to hold them accountable!
I absorb everything I can from social media. It’s the most immediate way to find inspiration. The most valuable education I’ve had is eating at restaurants of chef’s that I admire. Having my eyes open to what’s going on globally in our industry is also very valuable to me; I try to travel as often as possible.
My experience at August had a huge impact on my career. I went in to interview for a pastry cook position. John and I spoke for 3 hours, and I was hired as the pastry chef. I was in way over my head. It was a sink or swim moment for me. I had to learn how to translate an idea into a dish and make sure it was cohesive from beginning to end.
It may have been an accident for me to end up in the hospitality industry, but I knew it was right for me the minute I entered a kitchen. A friend of mine owned a bakery, and had a huge order to fill one day and needed help. I volunteered to give a hand and that night I knew this was the right fit. A week later I was there full time, and the rest is history!
Organization and critical thinking are the most valuable skills! It is also very important for you to master the the most basic techniques.
One of my favorite pastry cookbooks is “The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern” By Claudia Flemming.