CDM of the Month - April 2015

KeoVelasquez
Name: Ke’o Velasquez CDM, CFPP

Job Title: Executive Sous & Club Chef

Employer: Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas

Residence: Dallas, TX

Years at Current Facility: 1.7 Years

CDM Since: 2012

Why did you decide to become a CDM?

My previous employer offered a CDM as part of their continuing education program. Having earned
a nutrition certificate during culinary school and always striving to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle, the CDM was very interesting to me.

What are your main responsibilities in your position?

I oversee and provide creative direction for all things culinary at The Sports Club at Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas, home of the AT&T Byron Nelson Championship. The outlets include Member’s
Lounge and Pub, Racquets Café, Agave Pool & Bar, and Byron’s Banquet Hall. In addition to managing
and developing all culinary staff in The Sports Club outlets, I also oversee the Resort outlets
including Café on the Green, Terrace Lounge, and Bar 19, in Executive Chef Christof Syré’s absence.
My direct management of culinary financial areas include: labor, food cost, recipe cost via BirchStreet,
equipment and more.

What is an example of an innovative way you made a change at your facility and how did you implement the change?

I’ve rolled out a “Healthy Seasons” cuisine for the membership. We rebranded it recently as our “Live
Well” menu. I also hold quarterly seminars for the membership and Resort guests covering a variety
of topics including: nutritionally dense food, the ANDI scale, super foods, healthy cooking techniques,
shopping smart, the glycemic index, medical nutritional therapy and more.

How did you get started in the foodservice industry?

One of my first jobs from the age of 16 to 20, was working for a produce company that supplied local
organic produce to the hotels and restaurants throughout the state of Hawaii. In addition, they also
produced medicinal herbs and tinctures for national and international clients. I worked both on the
farm and in the distribution warehouse. When I was in college, I transitioned into the kitchen.

What are the biggest challenges in foodservice and how do you handle them?

Education seems to be a very big hurdle. In the age of instant access, there are many conceptions
and misconceptions about food. Many guests’ opinions are formed without proper research or education.

Conversely, a guest may be very well informed while the culinary professional is unable to make
an educated recommendation. As we learn more about nutrition and its ever increasing role in our
health, many outdated concepts are slow to die. It is more important than ever to push ourselves as
culinarians to remain relevant.

What is your favorite part of your job?

My passions in this industry include education and development of staff, creating innovative food that
complements all types of wines and is not limited to the boundaries of cuisine, and the relationship
between food and your body - both medically and mentally.

How do you stay up-to-date with current innovations and trends?

My advice would be to push yourself to discover the many facets that encompass the food service
industry. I would tell them to understand that many great opportunities will appear throughout their
career, and that not all of them will provide an initial monetary reward. Know that you will work under
extraordinary mentors who will share a wealth of knowledge and lazy bosses who allow you to do
their job for them, but there is great value in both. There is a defining difference between a boss and a
leader, and one should always strive to be the latter.

How do you envision the foodservice industry in the next few years and beyond?

I see a continued push towards a more educated general public with healthier food, farm fresh products
and larger ecological conscience. As the field of Medical Nutritional Therapy continues to establish
itself and grow, old ideologies will change. Topics such as the broad-reaching effects of celiac
disease and others will continue to increase. I see the adverse effects of refined sugar, which are
just starting to emerge, taking center stage in the years to come in addition to others. However, with
this and any large industry not wanting to tarnish their image or lose market share, I see an unfortunate
amount of misguided information emerging as well. The role of CDM’s and all culinary positions
will become ever more important in sorting through the fact and fiction, guiding customers towards a
healthier existence.