Retaining talent and loyal employees is a top priority to me, both to honor their efforts and to ensure that we keep the very best. For instance, my core group of employees at Marcel’s have been with me since the year it opened in 1999. At Marcel‘s, I’ve really had an open door policy to young, aspiring chefs who want to take a plunge in the kitchen to be mentored and prepped. It’s about being a guide. It’s an opportunity that can help them realize their passion and potential, or even discover that cooking is not their destined career path. So for employee retention, it is all about cultivating a professional relationship that is mutually beneficial, which allows them to grow in their position and feel challenged in a way that sharpens his or her skill sets and talents. At Wildwood Kitchen, I went an extra step to protect my most devoted staff by sponsoring five of my loyal, long-term employees by supporting their investment in the restaurant they are now running. By giving them significant stake, I not only provide security for these dedicated managers, but give them the opportunity to take charge in real leadership roles as I remain supportive on the sidelines.
Stepping back a bit, the chef had this to say:
Dining as a whole has gotten more casual, there are fewer fine-dining training grounds. That not only means fewer servers who know which wine pairs with a grilled piece of foie gras, but also fewer cooks who know how to make a boudin or saucisson. Line cooks used to be in their 30s or 40s. These days, they’re 18 to 24 and they’ve got major dues to pay. My style of managing the kitchen staff has changed as a result of the staffing shortages. These days, you can’t pull a Gordon Ramsey if you want to keep people on board. It used to be that I’d walk into the kitchen, snap my apron, and rock and roll. I could be direct and yell all night. And I’d have 10 cooks banging at the back door wanting a job.