Q. What have been the major challenges up to this point? A. Right now the biggest challenge for me personally is trying to find balance in all that I have on my plate. There are so many moving parts and it seems like little challenges keep getting us along the way. The most recent challenge was losing power days before The Greenbrier Classic Golf tournament due to all the storms. With a full hotel and only one kitchen, the bunker (which had electricity) and is our training facility for Bocuse d’Or, became our kitchen. My team stepped up and we pulled off an amazing tournament all while keeping all the guests happy and eating. This once again reminded me of how critical it is to be able to problem solve and think on your feet. I have honed those skills in competition and they always serve me well, and are something I try to nurture and encourage in my team.
Q. What will the fall months hold for training? A. Over the next several months we will be perfecting our dishes, starting to work on the details, and replicate the dishes over and over. It’s going to ramp up over the next several months, and the preparation we have been doing will be key as we move into the final phases of preparation.
Q. What is the most positive part of the experience thus far for you? The team? A. The out-pouring of support has been amazing! As also the overall awareness we have garnered for the culinary profession here in the United States. I have been able to connect with Chefs and others in the industry. Plus, people are now interested in what we are doing. Everyday, I have people ask to meet me, see the kitchen, talk about the equipment, and the food. It’s really impressed me how many people are inspired by what we are doing.
Q. What would you tell young and aspiring chefs who see how much you have accomplished in a short career? A. The first thing I tell everyone is, love what you do. It's key to being successful. It keeps you inspired, thinking, fresh and relevant. I get up everyday wanting to go to work, looking for ways to become inspired and inspire others.
The other key thing that I have learned to do is listen. Whether it’s to your employees, your peers or mentors in the industry. Sometimes it can be difficult to find the time when things are busy, but it makes people feel like they are a part of the team and that they matter.