It’s been some time since I have posted on EOL or should I say the Original EOL, glad to be back. Staying committed to excellence is essential to ongoing upward mobility or maybe even gainful employment. I see people with so much potential who never advance or develop as leaders in their disciplines. They wonder why this person or that person always gets the breaks; they blame the system for their failures and hold contempt for those who quickly move through the ranks.
The First Annual Flavor of Napa
by Chef Len Elias
The “Flavor of Napa” was a world class celebration of food and wine highlighting some of Napa's best-known chefs and winemakers. Events took place up and down the Napa Valley over 4 days in November and included culinary demonstrations, multi course dinners, wine tastings, and a closing brunch. Proceeds from the festival benefited the scholarship fund at the Culinary Institute of America. Participating Chefs included Thomas Keller, Bob Hurley, Christopher Kostow, Masaharu Morimoto, Tyler Florence, Michael Chiarello, Cindy Pawlcyn, Richard Blais, Todd Humphries, Jeff Jake, Christophe Geurad and dozens of others. The main purpose of my visit was to lend a hand and support the culinary team at the Dolce Silverado Resort.
Are You One of Them?
Who are they? They are a large percent of the workforce and as a group wield a great deal of influence and power. They work within all areas of the hospitality industry. There is no socioeconomic, gender, educational or physical requirements to be one of them. All you have to do is show up for work everyday, it’s that easy. Most of them feel that the world owes them a living. And that by virtue of their presence, the majority of their daily responsibilities have already been completed. The fact that they are doing their job at any level should be enough to satisfy anyone who dares to question their intent or the competency of their work. The sad part is that most of the group had big dreams earlier in their careers. Many had the potential to rise through the ranks and even to become leaders but some how lost their way.
The Never-Ending Search For Cooks Who Have and Get It!
It’s been a long week; I lost a Sous chef to an injury that will take him off the roster for an undetermined amount of time. One of our more experienced cooks is leaving to join the armed forces and business is booming. It was like a 1-2-3 punch; there are days that I am amazed that we get through it. One of my biggest sources of anxiety is to continuously build our bench. Identifying and recruiting cooks who have it and get it is a never ending process.
Through this process one of the things that I have come to realize is that the largest applicant pool consists of “career changers.” Most applicants are recent graduates from one of the many post-secondary culinary schools in existence today. So many, in fact, that I think the pool of prospective students necessary to keep the schools full and profitable has altered their product. I am not implying that these are not reputable schools; they are staffed by many fine chefs with good intentions and have acceptable facilities. I have just have a hard time understanding why you can’t make a hollandaise or that you have not been required to take a sanitation class.
How Not to Get a Job
by Chef Len Elias
I recently initiated a search to recruit a sous chef and breakfast cook. I thought that it would be pretty easy to find a professional, talented and hard working candidate during this economomic downturn. To my surprise what I found was a large pool of applicants, many had recently graduated or were scheduled to graduate in the coming months from one of the post secondary Culinary Schools in the Atlanta area; others were locals and some from as far away as NY. I am not sure who influences these people, but a dose of reality about the industry is highly recommended.
I will start with the lack of business etiquette. It would be nice to see a complete application package that includes my request for a cover letter, salary history and resume. I am not expecting a perfectly crafted set of documents, but please run spell check, attempt complete sentences and correct gross errors in grammar.
Staying On Top Of Your Game
Its three days later and I am still shaking off the effects of the weekend. We did 600 covers in about three hours. I gave my AM Sous Chef the day off? His kids are young and mine are grown so I didn't mind doing the work, but I was cemented to the line and did not move for almost 10 hours. It was out of control, but in spite of the economy it was very encouraging to see so many people come out and spending money.
I was off yesterday but ended up spending most of the day working from home trying to close the financials for the month. It would be nice just to be able to cook all day, but the fact is results count. If you can’t run the numbers, you can’t run the business and you won’t last long. Even the most successful chefs have got to wonder what they will need to do to stay on top of their game. Running the business, keeping yourself contemporary and your food exciting is a full time commitment.