Ryan Pfeiffer

Ryan Pfeiffer

Former Owner of Big Kids and Former Culinary Director for 16 On Center

The most important lesson I have learned from working in kitchens is to treat people the way you would want to be treated. There is a lot of toxicity in chef culture, and the only way it is going to change is if we treat people like people instead of business-related assets.

The most important piece of advice I got from a previous chef is that when you are at your most busy, you should be moving slower rather than faster. It took me a few years to realize the sentiment behind this saying, but it rings true with me now more than ever.
I spend a lot of time with my wife and our dogs when I am not working. I take solace in spending time with family.
When I’m hiring, I think the best tool that a cook can bring is an open mind. In all honesty I don’t care about where you worked before, if you are open to learning, I consider this most important.
I keep my team inspired by being open and honest. Everyone has the chance to learn what they want in their time here, not that I know very much, but I am willing to learn with them.
Giving people autonomy I feel is the healthiest way to create a good work environment. When someone can take credit for their own work, they are more proud than if they were just doing a task for someone else.
The restaurant community is what inspires me to stay in the industry. There is a palpable sense of camaraderie in the Chicago food scene.
I find a lot of inspiration from friends. I have had the privilege to meet some very talented people in my career. Everyone can learn from each other, and I feel very fortunate to be surrounded by such talented company.
I continue to educate myself by listening to my staff. They all know more than me.

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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