Why did you decide to become a CDM?
After two years as Executive Chef at a CCRC on the east coast, I had an opportunity to fill in for the Director who was out on leave. I loved that I was able to lead my team, and make the calls that directly affected them—in short, that meant getting my CDM.
What are your main responsibilities in your current position?
Leading the department in day to day operations, and coaching and mentoring my associates.
How do you organize your time at work to make sure you accomplish all your responsibilities?
I bulk up my days, especially early in the week, to complete mandatory tasks so that the rest of my time can be spent rounding, networking, and connecting.
What is an example of an innovative way you have made change at your facility and how did you implement it?
Cross Training FOH and BOH staff. This required back work on menus and processes, as well as training and innovation. This way, we are much more flexible with call-ins and time-off requests.
What was your first job in the foodservice industry?
I was a dishwasher at a local tavern.
Who has been your biggest mentor in foodservice and how have they helped shape your career?
Lynn Eddy, professor of Business Management at the Culinary Institute of America. She taught me not to undervalue what I can do, and what I bring to the table. These are two things I coach my team members on constantly.
What are the biggest challenges you face in your position and how do you handle them?
Simply stated, new regulations and old prejudices. As with most challenges, I focus on solutions and practice persistence, as well as networking with the clinical team and other departments. I cannot stress the importance of the last enough. As a CDM, I need to give equal measure to culinary (my passion), clinical (we are healthcare), and fiscal responsibility. This is what I appreciate most about my role - the effect and responsibility I have on those areas.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Watching people grow and develop their skills and passion. I always think about the line “What if we develop our people and they leave? But what if we don’t and they stay?” This is how I have developed a great team.
How do you stay up to date with current innovations and trends?
I am active in our local ACF chapter, and admin for several social media pages. It still amazes me, how when I started in foodservice, we had only libraries and periodicals! Now, I can think of a concept, and after a few clicks on the internet I have dozens of ideas.
How do you envision the foodservice industry in the next few years and foodservice?
We are still serving a huge segment of late Silents and early Boomers—we cannot ignore their desire for familiar and less innovative cuisine. At the same time, we absolutely must provide more choice, and sometimes cutting edge options. It is a very exciting time for people who are passionate about both Culinary and Hospitality.
What is your advice to those just getting started in the foodservice industry?
Be passionate about all you do, and you’ll never work a day in your life! There is just no other way to say it.