Now that Jack&June is open, I am often asked what it feels like to own and operate two restaurants, and if I am twice as busy as before. From the outside, it would appear that way, but in order to grow as we have, it requires some critical factors, one of which is a devoted team. It is this team that I feel most fortunate to lead.
As my leadership responsibilities grow, I am most humbled by the obligation I have to those who have decided that our vision is worth adopting. The work in our industry is hard and physically demanding, but equally as rewarding if done well. There are two young men on my team to which I want to introduce you, and brag on them a bit, because they carry such a critical part of the weight. You, the guest, would not have the pleasure served at your table without their dedication.
Matt Roush, aka Uncle Matt, came to us almost two years ago this December to work as my sous chef at bread&cup. We were at a point in growth that I needed someone to trust to help execute the evening service. He had experience cooking in volume and speed, and when he told me the number of covers they would kick out the window on a busy weekend night at his previous employment, I knew the slower pace of our little craft kitchen wouldn’t be a problem.
I repeat over and over again that I don’t first look for experience, but instead I look for people that can work. I can teach and develop skill. I can’t create work ethic. While Matt did not have the immediate skills of finesse and creativity that our constantly changing menu requires, I could easily see he had the raw material of devotion and dedication that is needed to develop a great plate of food to our standards.
In two short years he has improved to the point that he now holds the title of Chef de Cuisine at bread&cup. I have handed him the keys to our kitchen and he shoulders the responsibility of our nightly service.
Colin Kennedy, aka Coleen, started out washing dishes for us at bread&cup close to three years ago. As a young college kid, it didn’t take long to recognize that he had something going for him. Intelligent, driven and passionate about food, he grew up in the ranks, learning everything he could as he went along. Colin would always be looking over my shoulder, asking questions about what I was cutting or mixing. It was this curiosity that rewarded him with more responsibility.
When it came time to staff our kitchen at Jack&June, I approached Colin with the offer of being our Chef de Cuisine. I had this decision challenged several times, questioning if his lack of experience would be a detriment. My reply was always the same; “…and I had never been a chef or opened a restaurant before either.” It was clear that Colin had what it took despite his resume. I believed he could do it, and he has proven me right. He and his team have worked some grueling days this past week, on their feet all day, pushing food out the window for two services daily. It makes me proud and honored to lead such dedication.
The next time you see these guys, give them a pat on the back or a wave to them in their kitchens. It will mean a lot, both to them, and to me.