Whether you want to learn or not, you don’t need to work in tall buildings to gain valuable real-life, transferable skills. Today, the restaurant industry employs 10% of the population. Education aside, there are valuable lessons you learn by surrounding yourself with a diversified group of people. Dive deeper into what a local chef learned in the restaurant industry.
One of the coolest aspects about this particular industry is that individuals have entered into the industry from all around the world. I, personally, have had the opportunity to hear amazing stories from talented individuals who proclaim the important skills you gain by working in a restaurant. My desire to learn more about the behind-the-scenes led me to a college town in Hanover, NH.
What Motivated You to Enter the Restaurant Industry?
Instead of “Googling,” I went right to the kitchen. Chef Plante, Head Chef at Lou’s, a scrumptious restaurant and bakery located in Hanover, NH says he knew at an early age he wanted to be involved in everything food. Plantes first love was food (he wants to extend an apology to his beautiful wife). Attending New England Culinary Institute, Chef quickly learned the benefits of eating wholesome foods and cooking from scratch.
I fell in love with everything about it right away, and I continue to eat, sleep and breathe everything food related.
Classic, Timeless and Delicious
Moreover, when asked what Chefs favorite dish – his answer: Chicken broccoli Alfredo. Why? Everyone, has, at least one point in their life, enjoyed this classic entree dish with a smile on their face. This sweet and buttery dish is certainly a family all-time favorite. Biased, maybe, but a classic fav Chef enjoys whipping up for anyone, anywhere, anytime. Meet me at Lou’s.
Working in the Restaurant Industry is Exciting
Straight from the Chefs mouth:
Working in the restaurant industry is exciting, exhausting, empowering, thankless at times and other times incredibly rewarding.
In short, if there’s anyone who knows the definition of over-time, it’s Chef Plante. Pulling 60+ hours on a good week, he runs on salt and caffeine – extra salt, 5 shots espresso. Plante’s passion comes alive as he maneuvers the BOH. Indeed, in his position, he hears about the life stories from his staff and takes on the facade of a human drone as he manages the ins, outs, and everything in between. He loves the heat, it’s his passion. Team before self. Chef Plante made it clear that every restaurant, every chef and every staff member is different. That unique make-up is what inevitably embodies a restaurant.
In restaurants the food has to be fast and it has to be good
Above all, Chef Plante lives and breathes food. Not only does Chef Plante breathe food, but he also reads into delectable recipes and brings them to life in the kitchen at Lou’s. One of Plante’s inspirations is Anthony Bourdain, world renown chef and author. I asked Plante what working in the restaurant industry is like. His answer came in the form of a quote from Bourdain:
You can always tell when a person has worked in a restaurant. There’s an empathy that can only be cultivated by those who’ve stood between a hungry mouth and a $28 pork chop, a special understanding of the way a bunch of motley misfits can be a family. Service industry work develops the “soft skills” recruiters talk about on LinkedIn — discipline, promptness, the ability to absorb criticism, and most important, how to read people like a book. The work is thankless and fun and messy, and the world would be a kinder place if more people tried it. With all due respect to my former professors, I’ve long believed I gained more knowledge in kitchens, bars, and dining rooms than any college could even hold.
Bourdain had a way with food and words. Hence the connection Chef Plante made that truly speaks to the rawness you experience in the restaurant industry. A certain rarity that only comes from working the grueling yet ever-so rewarding hours. One thing is for certain, the love for food shows in Chef Plante’s work ethic and dedication to Lou’s Restaurant and Bakery.
Changes in the Restaurant Industry Amid COVID-19
Moreover, it’s no surprise the restaurant industry since the pandemic has changed. I was curious to know what changes. The first noticeable changes were in the FOH. Staff are required to wear masks and customers are spread out to abide by social distancing policies. Additionally, staff members encourage customers to order online and take advantage of curbside. Safety measures and precautions are at the forefront in the FOH. In the BOH operations, there were clear inventory disruptions.
Also, according to Chef Plante:
Paper costs are through the roof, meat prices through the roof and the supply chain damaged. The list goes on and on and changes every day.
True Advice for Those Wanting to Enter the Restaurant Industry
For this, Chef Plante spoke to my soul as he stated short and sweetly:
If I was to give advice to someone entering the food service industry it would be simple: make sure you love what you do or you will likely not succeed and it will not be worth it.
Moreover, this resonates with more than those in the restaurant industry. It’s true. If you love what you do, you don’t ever have to work a day in your life. It’s also true that if you enjoy what you are doing, you are going to perform better, be in a better mood, and produce top-notch service to your consumers. I have had the honorable opportunity to see first-hand the passion Chef Plante sprinkles into his tasty entrees. It’s clear: he loves what he does.
There’s a exciting feeling you get when you travel to various restaurants. Hearing about the experiences and stories peaked my curiosity.
Lastly, A lot can be said by walking down the street to hear about what a local chef learned in the restaurant industry.
If You Could Change One Thing in The Restaurant Industry
We all have lives. Most of us, families and multiple responsibilities outside of work. I didn’t think I was going to get the answer I did from Chef Plante. However, I wasn’t totally surprised when I asked him if he could change one thing in the restaurant industry, what would it be?
If I could improve one thing in the restaurant industry it would be to make changes that result in a better work/life balance for employees.
Chef cares about his staff. For each time I brought up an opportunity to possibly complain, he didn’t. Instead, he praised his staff for hanging in there and showing up, regardless of the battles they may face. You spend a lot of time with the people you work with, it makes sense that they naturally become like family. Speaking from a true leader of the skillet. The long hours and heat doesn’t keep him out of the kitchen.
To this, I think there’s no better time than now to invest in technology to ease the pain points in the restaurant industry.
Last But Not Least
So, everyone wants to know what the secret sauce is. Chef Plante swears by two things: Salt and more salt. The best way to get real-world knowledge is to dive deeper into what a local chef learned in the restaurant industry. Thank you, Chef.
Pass the NaCl.