You have to keep your knives sharpened, have your mise en place prepared, build a team you know will support your vision, delegate, and follow up while always being open to feedback. chef best job
While the above description is the standard process for running a successful restaurant, after talking with newly promoted CEO, Chef Ed Brown, it seems like his plan going forward for Restaurant Associates is to run things in the same way he’s been training throughout his career…like a chef!
From Chef to CEO
Restaurant Associates is celebrating its 75th Anniversary this year, so they’re clearly no stranger to running successful kitchens. This onsite dining management company delivers hospitality excellence to so many clients in the country’s top cultural centers, corporate accounts, educational facilities, and off-premise catering events. With a list of well over 175 accounts, including Google, Tiffany & Company, and the Smithsonian Institution Museums, there’s no lack of similarities between running these as a chef or CEO.
Yet, when Ed Brown speaks, one similarity continually sticks out, “I’ve got to empower and embolden the people of Restaurant Associates by letting them do what they’re good at. The more I can empower them to do their jobs, the more I’ll be able to strategize so that everything moves in the right direction.”
In 2022, when a CEO stresses the importance of their employees, it sends a clear statement that the company understands what’s at stake if they don’t prioritize their workers. For Ed Brown, he explicitly calls it out, “It ends with me in every way. When an employee’s not happy, it ends with me. When a customer is not happy, it ends with me. I think that is what will make me successful at this job. That I truly do care.”
Spending his career building and nurturing talented teams as a chef is not a new concept for Brown. That said, stepping into his new role as CEO has proven you can’t take the teambuilding chef out of the man, “I also know I can help change people’s lives. I genuinely care about every single person at Restaurant Associates. It takes a lot of time and effort, but we are nothing without our people.”
Happiness and Workplace Satisfaction
According to an analysis by 80000hours.org, there are six traits that contribute to happiness and workplace satisfaction. They include: engaging work; work that benefits other people; work you’re good at (and feel valued at); flexibility in how and where you work; a lack of major negatives; and the chance for collaboration. Of course, many of those traits include working with others, so it’s no surprise that when employees are the focus and priority, a company hits its 75th year in business while simultaneously making it feel like they’re just getting started.
You wouldn’t be faulted for wondering if a chef who’s spent so many years in the kitchen is even going to enjoy an executive role with this much responsibility and will the role itself bring workplace satisfaction to him. Still, without being prompted, Chef Brown glowingly shares, “I have to say, I’ve never been more fulfilled than I am at this job as I get to use every one of the skills I’m good at — and the ones I’m learning. I can see myself being as excited about this job ten years from now as I am today. I don’t think I’ve ever felt that way before.”
So does this chef have the best job? You only have to hear him say the following to know the answer, “For so many years of my career, I thought, ‘I can’t believe I get paid to do this. I would do it for free.’ So I pinch myself every day to find myself in this position.”