“I am constantly thinking about this job and how can I improve it: how can we get better, how can I get better? Challenges inspire me the most: if we get a bad review or if I have a poor experience at one of my restaurants, I am to blame, even if I wasn’t there, it is my fault and my responsibility. What did I miss, did I put the right person in the right position to succeed?„
Don’t ever say you don’t have time, if you want time, you make time for it.
When hiring, we look for a positive attitude, honesty, the understanding that mistakes are ok, self-reflection and humility.
People skills are very important. You can teach anyone how to hold a knife, turn on a stove and throw ingredients into a pot but it’s their story and life experiences that make them great. Are you learning from them, are you able to connect with them and lead them, can you listen to their story and learn something. The better you can listen to them and their needs, the bigger impact you can potentially make.
We are always doing educational trips and outings: oyster farms, local farms, distilleries, wineries, vendor tours. We also want our chefs, bartenders and managers to bring ideas to us; we must continue to evolve in this industry. If you don't grow, you die. Autonomy is important in our company, we want our teams to feel empowered to bring us ideas and solutions on how we can get better.
I was fortunate enough to know when I was very young this was something I wanted to do, however it wasn’t just the cooking, it was also the hospitality: to provide a service to people, to invite them into your restaurant (into your home) where you can turn their experience into something memorable through food and service. It is rewarding to see a smile on someone’s face when they just ate something you made. I selected Johnson & Wales as my college when I was in 10th grade, I went there with intention to study Culinary Arts and play baseball, shortly after arriving to college, I decided baseball wasn’t for me anymore.
I am a hands on learner, I love getting an idea I come across online or on social media and then trying to figure it out: how did they do that? How can we do that? How can we make it better, how can we make it our own?
Some readings I have enjoyed: Food Lover’s Companion, Setting the Table, Food and Wine Magazine, Raving Fans, Extreme Ownership and leadership books by Stephen Covey.
It's nearly impossible for me to do my job without my self-doubt and self-awareness. Having the ability to ask more questions is critical. As people move up the ladder, they sometimes forget where they came from, they forget how to sweep the floor or how to take the trash out. You can’t let your ego get in the way and certainly can’t think that you’ve made it! You’ve got to keep moving forward and raise the bar, you need to help others to be great.
The key to maintaining a good work-life balance is understanding that everyone’s work-life balance is different. I have three boys and a baby daughter on her way. I hear people say all the time they want their weekends or Sunday off, they don’t want to close every night, they want a 9 to 5. But anyone who wants to do well in their career will do whatever they have to do to get the job done: doctors, nurses, firefighters, police officers, news broadcasters, athletes, lawyers, and so on. I’m not saying you have to work 24/7, but you need to understand what your work and life’s needs are, not what social media portrays or what you think others have. Work hard, play hard and do what is right. Lastly, remember that your work-life balance will evolve as life changes.
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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