Why did you decide to become a CDM?
I decided to become a CDM, CFPP to enhance my knowledge in the healthcare industry. Becoming a CDM, CFPP has help me achieve my dream job of becoming a corporate chef. Becoming a CDM, CFPP is a mandatory at our company.
What are your main responsibilities in your current position?
I am responsible for the entire food production for all of our facilities. I train and manage kitchen personnel and supervise/coordinate all related culinary activities including: estimate food consumption and requisition or purchase food, select and develop recipes, standardize production recipes to ensure consistent quality, and establish presentation techniques and quality standards.
How do you organize your time at work to make sure you accomplish all your responsibilities?
I organize my schedule to make sure I accomplish all my tasks.
What is an example of an innovative way you have made change at your facility and how did you implement it?
I will say that I changed our food quality. We moved from frozen, already-made foods to fresh, made-from-scratch food.
What was your first job in the foodservice industry?
I started as a dishwasher in a Greek diner in New York.
Who has been your biggest mentor in foodservice and how have they helped shape your career?
My biggest mentor was probably Chef Himanshu Vahal. I met him when I was a cook at the Marriott Hotel in New York. After making him dinner, he told me something that I will never forget, "this is the best linguine pomodoro I have ever had. We all have gifts and different talents, and yours is cooking.’’
What are the biggest challenges you face in your position and how do you handle them?
Like any other job, I have a lot of challenges. The biggest challenge in my current position was when I took this role because I didn’t have anyone to train me as a corporate chef. I had to run five facilities with different needs and challenges. My previous experience helped me a lot, but also my continuing education is a big part of my success. Becoming a CDM, CFPP has opened the doors to help me overcome my challenges.
What is your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of my job is to talk to our residents and listen to them, especially when they thank me for our wonderful food. When I get to see that happy smile and know that it is because of my food, that is the biggest reward for me. I also enjoy teaching my staff about food.
How do you stay up to date with current innovations and trends?
I think that the key is to focus on people, behaviors, trends, best practices and using the tools to accomplish goals. I read a lot of books and blogs, and I listen to a lot of podcasts. I also highly recommend Edge magazine and social media.
How do you envision the foodservice industry in the next few years?
My vision of the foodservice industry in the next five years is that there will be more vegetarians. Vegetarianism is gaining momentum and expanding into mainstream culture. Millennials (the largest demographic in the nation) are thinking in terms of the environment and sustainability, which creates an emphasis on vegetables within the diet.
What is your advice to those just getting started in the foodservice industry?
My advice for those who are just getting started in foodservice is to pursue your dreams and never give up. Work hard and with dedication. Nothing comes easy, and there will be hard times, but think of what you want accomplish. Work with love and passion and your results will amaze you.