Mark Lapico

Mark Lapico

Vice President of Culinary Operations at Jean-Georges Management

I'm inspired by watching my team transform from a young and green cook into a line cool who really holds their own and eloquently dances through service.

When I first became a Sous Chef at Nougatine, they had to force me to leave and transfer to Jean-Georges because I felt like I had become a parent to my team. I used to get these young cooks and as we worked together, I would watch them grow into badass cooks. This was extremely rewarding for me.
I had a mentor in the finance industry who gave me the best piece of advice: you have two ears and one mouth because you should listen twice as much as you speak.
If you ever want to be an owner you should look at your day to day through the eyes of the owner. Take a step back and look at the big picture, you may love food but without the guest there is no job. The value of the customer cannot be taken for granted.
I listen to what what my staff and take genuine interest in what they have to say while constantly coaching them. We all work together and I respect that they choose to spend almost every day of their life at the restaurant. The fact is that if they’re not working here they’re going to go work somewhere else.
Cooks come here often to learn and we’re here to teach them. I teach them everything I know, and they reciprocate putting their best foot forward. It’s a team effort, we are a team of 55 people I need every single one of them.
It’s not easy to ask someone you respect what you’re not good at but if you don’t do it every now and then, you become stagnant. I don't want to wait until it too late to know how I can be better.
Passion, drive and cleanliness are key but if I’m going to mentor someone I am going to look for the person who is genuinely willing to put in the effort.
From when I was a really young chef who never seemed like he belonged,I realized I needed to broaden my knowledge and look at what was going on in the industry. When you’re a line cook you’ll have the 10 things you have to finish but every day take a min to learn something about food or the industry that has nothing to do at your job.
Greg Brainin has been a mentor and one of the most creative people I’ve met. He taught me to taste everything. You often go to a restaurant and you can see there was great inspiration but when it comes down to the basics of seasoning and temperature, someone just didn’t taste the food.
Cooking is not a spectator sport, and taking notes is not going to help, you must jump right in and taste everything in order to understand the flavors. Anyone can watch tv and read a cook book but until you do it yourself and practice you’re never going to be good at it.
I have one biological child and 40 adopted children.

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