How long have you been with Parkhurst Dining?
Almost three years, in July. Seems like just yesterday, and coming from fine dining restaurants, I didn’t know I would love it here as much as I do.
How long have you considered yourself a chef? (Even if it was before you formally had the title!)
You know, I still don’t consider myself a chef – I consider myself a cook. Every day I’m learning from the people that work our kitchen. When I first started culinary school, we had a Master Chef as an instructor, who said that even he didn’t consider himself a Chef – and he had reached the pinnacle of the career path and cooked for presidents – but he still knew there was more to learn and experience. I’ve always taken that to heart; I do my best to treat everyone equally and learn from all the incredible people that work around me.
If you were a food, what would you be?
Well, I guess I would be a hot pepper since I have them tattooed all over my arms. I love the fear, the punch, and the endorphins of hot peppers. People embrace them like a challenge – telling me, “Make it hot as possible, I can handle it” – and I’ve really surprised some people in the past with just how much I can light them up.
And well, I can be kind of loud, colorful, and spicy – so I guess I can really be like a chili pepper.
What is a most requested dish by your family and friends?
They just love me cooking, and somehow I always find my way into the kitchen, whether they planned it or not. I make a simple bruschetta with goat cheese, eggplant tapenade, and a little arugula tossed in a citronette, and my family goes wild for it. But my chicken tikka masala, I think that’s really one of my best dishes – and is the most requested here at Hanover.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
Seeing the smiling faces. Seeing our team members enjoying the work and embracing the environment of teamwork, collaboration, learning and fun. I genuinely love walking in and seeing my team invested in what they’re doing and supporting each other like a family.
For the students – we try to bring them the food experiences of different cultures and provide the opportunity to expand their palates by trying something new. Sometimes it can be a little “different” than what they know, but seeing them try new things and love it – I love knowing it created a smile for them and it’s really awesome to see how it broadens their horizons for the future.
You are clearly passionate about your investing in your team!
It’s one of my favorite parts of the job. We have probably over 100 student team members, and seeing them engage with the work, and take so much pride in it – specifically our student-run restaurant – they are learning so much, pumping out orders for one- to two-hundred people in a night, and having fun while they do it – this probably isn’t a career for them while they study to be a doctor, but it gives them great life lessons to take with them.