ALL HAIL COOK’S APPRENTICESHIP
by Chef Paul Sourgle; MS, AAC CULINARYCUESBLOG
John was 16 and a junior in high school. He came from a family of modest means; dad was a carpenter, a pretty good one too; mom had her hands full taking care of John’s three sisters, his younger brother and him and decorating wedding cakes as a side business from their home. The family always had enough to eat, sufficient clothes, a warm house in winter and the necessary supplies for school, but it was apparent that college was probably not in the cards for John and his siblings.
One summer John was hired as a dishwasher in a local Italian restaurant; he immediately fell in love with the environment. He enjoyed the banter among the cooks, was invigorated by the pace of business, felt complete after a hard day in the dish pit, appreciated the opportunity to flirt with the waitresses, and most importantly, loved the aroma and flavor of the kitchen. The restaurant gave him purpose and hope.
When school started again in the fall, John kept a part-time job at the restaurant, working weekends and an occasional mid-week evening. His family was fine with this since he was able to have some of his own money, open a savings account and contribute a bit to the family fund.
As the summer of his 17th year drew near, the restaurant chef called John into his office. “John, I like your work ethic and can sense your interest in what is happening in the kitchen. What are your plans after your senior year in high school?” Jake sheepishly said that his family couldn’t afford college, so he really hadn’t given it too much thought. “I have an idea that you might be interested in. I learned how to cook through the old school of hard knocks and an opportunity given to me when I was your age. The restaurant I washed dishes at was part of a national apprenticeship program for cooks. It lasted three years, but at the end, I was an accomplished cook who could work in any kitchen.” John was intrigued. “I am starting a similar program at this restaurant and feel that it might be a perfect opportunity for you. I see myself in your work and your level of passion. If you are willing, I can start teaching you a few things as a breakfast assistant cook this summer and sign you up for the apprenticeship once you graduate.” John listened with great interest. “Talk it over with your parents and let me know.”
Mark Sapienza Executive Chef
The Langham Hotel, Boston Mass
Mark Sapienza is one of the best Chefs in Boston and an old friend. We earned our stripes together at Apleys Restaurant an amazing 1980’s Hotel Restaurant located at the Sheraton Boston Hotel. Mark likes Chef Jasper Whites Summer Shack, the quintessential New England Seafood Restaurant. When asked what are some of his favorite dish’s, Chef Mark states, that at some point you have to order Jaspers “Pan Roasted Lobster” with bourbongo for th espei, shallots and chervil. It may be a bit Nostalgic; it was made famous at “Jasper's”; Chef White’s legendary 1980’s era fine dining restaurant. Chef Mark usually goes for the specials, they are always true seasonal dishes, utilizing only what he can be sourced fresh. The Summer Shack is dedicated to fresh, local seafood where up to 50% of sales come off the blackboard specials. Other restaurants on Chef Mark’s list are Chef Barbara Lynch’s No. 9 Park and Legal Seafood’s.
Chef Lenny Ventura
Executive Chef at Dolce Hotels & Resorts, Dallas/Fort Worth
Chef Ventura is originally from Chicago where he spent almost 20 years at the Ritz Carlton and Four Seasons. Chef Ventura is a big fan of "The Publican” in Chicago where Executive Chef/Partner Paul Kahan cooks up an eclectic menu inspired by simple farmhouse fare in a space evocative of a European beer hall. Chef Ventura’s favorite dishes would be the Sardine with Tessa, Parmesan-Breadcrumbs & Harissa as well as the Porchetta, which is made with Pesto, Rapini & Pine Nuts. Chef Ventura states don’t miss the Mission Figs, Potato Fry Bread, Crescenza Cheese & Aged Balsamic. Chef Ventura also likes Alinea and states that the seasonal tasting menu is to die for. On a local Dallas-Fort Worth note, one place he likes to go is called the Rodeo Goat, great local beers and great burgers; his favorite burger is the Whiskey Burger.
A CHEF'S LIFE Season 2
premiering on PBS October 5th 2014
A CHEF'S LIFE is a half-hour character-driven documentary and cooking series that takes viewers inside the life of Chef Vivian Howard, who, with her husband Ben Knight, left the big city to open a fine dining restaurant in small-town Eastern North Carolina.
In the second season, A CHEF’S LIFE takes Vivian out of the Chef and the Farmer’s kitchen and on the road with a new roster of Southern ingredients. From blueberries to turnips to butterbeans, Vivian explores Southern cuisine with a chef’s modern sensibilities. As they introduce viewers to the farmers and cooks of the American South, Vivian and Ben also celebrate their twins’ third birthday and open a new second restaurant, the Boiler Room.
THE REAL KEY TO RESTAURANT SUCCESS IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MANAGEMENT AND STAFF
by Chef Paul Sourgle; MS, AAC CULINARYCUESBLOG
Everyone seems to be free with advice on how to find and push the magic button creating a successful restaurant. There are certainly standard answers (ho hum) like location, product, atmosphere and service. These are certainly critical pieces of the puzzle, but very few experts get to the heart of the matter, the real keys to success.
You have all heard the statement that your employees are your most valuable assets, yet very few operators (not exclusive to restaurants) take this to heart and build a strategy around these assets. Every operator I work with complains about the inability to find, attract, hire and retain great employees, yet very few actually sit down and determine what it would take to reach these goals. A recent article in the Vermont newspaper, Seven Days, asked the question: “Where are all the line cooks.” This was a piece of investigative journalism defining the effects, but not clearly defining the problem. Allow me to provide my own opinion on the topic.
What do employees and employers truly want? What must be in place for great teams to form, work effectively together, and stay together? Here are my thoughts for a successful restaurant staffing strategy:
The Capital Grille Denver, CO
The Sous Chef is responsible for supporting the Executive Chef in leading a team of culinary professionals that deliver high-quality, great tasting food; proper food safety and sanitation procedures and profitability. The Sous Chef contributes to building top line sales and guest count through the delivery of a competitively superior team member and guest experience. The Sous Chef supports the Executive Chef to ensure menu items are executed with excellence in the restaurant. Additionally, the Sous Chef supports managing quality in all aspects of their job.