Finding a Home in Hospitality

I love interviewing. At the very least interviewing is a chance to exchange philosophy and make connections in the industry, and at its best, an opportunity to find your second home. In an industry which encourages turnover, veterans tend to take a different approach in where they will land, prioritizing teamwork and education over money. On your next interview, stage, of even first couple weeks on the job, here are three things to keep in mind to help you avoid becoming a “number”.

My Staff vs. My Team- I’ve seen it a hundred times. A bartender or line cook gets promoted, and immediately starts posting about ” Their staff”. They have waited so long to hold that clipboard that they are injected with a sense of empowerment and completely neglect the idea of servant leadership. So be weary of the interviewer whom refers to her or his team as “my staff” constantly, and hope for the ones who say, ” our team”, because thats the family you want to be a part of.

Good afternoon, Good evening, and Goodnight- One thing I learned from spending two years in the Caribbean, is the importance of respect for my neighbors and co-workers. Now that doesn’t suggest I won’t bust chops or call someone out, or be called out myself, but you better believe I am wishing them a good day first, and expect the same in return. I worked briefly for a major restaurant group in Austin, and for three weeks I walked into work and wished everyone I passed a Good Afternoon, and only about 10% of the people said it back. This suggests two things, either they hate their jobs, or truly feel themselves to be locally famous. Either way, theres always time to show respect, and it’s a great way to find out early if you are walking into a team, or just a bunch of staff.

” So, what are you doing with all of this?” – In all of my years of interviewing, only two people asked me this question. Joshua Walker & Joey Ryan, the owners of Xioa Bao Biscuit in Charleston, S.C., who happen to be two of the most respected names in the industry, sat me down and asked me how I was going to make a name for myself, asked me about my objectives and big hairy audacious goals. After listening, they proceeded to share with their goals, their journey to opening, and their philosophy toward their team taking ownership over the restaurant. To this day, turning down that job to work for a big James Beard Award restaurant, where I was literally called by number one, two, or three, remains a huge regret.

Before your interview, just remember to respect yourself first, and beware of those who won’t take the time to wish you a good day, call you by your name, or show interest in your goals. It is the only way you’ll find pleasure in your work and more importantly, the only way you’ll ever understand the true meaning of hospitality.

Author: ChefMcKenna

Food as a Second Language

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