By Erika Prafder for Hcareers.com
Want a big tip?
Some of the restaurant world’s highest paid have earned their titles using innovative wit, social media-savvy, rock-star charisma, and passion-driven hunger to succeed.
If you’re prepared to live, breathe and eat the industry, plus adopt an entrepreneurial spirit, the opportunities and dough are yours for the taking.
Read on for three inside scoops on how to land such coveted roles.
As a child, Thomas Connell’s culinary passion was inspired by his grandfather. “I watched him make soups, salads, and braises for my grandmother — and was captivated. I never had another desire professionally,” says the Los Angeles native.
Today, Connell oversees roughly 350 signature restaurant employees and a conference/catering business raking in $40 million annually. Patrolling all kitchens daily, he tastes products, conducts random line checks, and attends service in all dining spots.
“I’m making sure plates are rolling, discussing reservation counts, expected VIPs, earlier shift challenges and functions tied to global initiatives, such as an upcoming Breast Cancer Awareness event,” says Connell.
With distinguished credentials from institutions including the Culinary Institute of America, Connell says, “The main objective for aspiring top chefs is to inspire those around you. With their support, you can do anything in an operation.”
Other high-income generators (F&B Directors, Restaurant Managers, Chef de Cuisines) have typically served at least five years in leadership capacity in a professional kitchen. Along with strong technical cooking skills, “Attitude is number one,” says Connell. “I want level-headed, professional, courteous, and refined people.”
If you fit that bill, “A lot of jobs are incentivized. You can get beyond six figures. It takes heartfelt desire, says Connell. “I’ve been [working for] 30 years in kitchens. It’s a tough job. When you have to work nights, weekends and holidays, you’ll only do it when driven passionately.”
Bites of advice:
- Rouse those around you to share your passion.
- Success is in the details of your daily check list. Everything speaks when the buck stops with you.
- A polished, poised and considerate attitude is the key to staying power and rising leadership rank.
A love of food, wine and people lured this marketing pro to work within this space. She bartended at Houlihans to cover Boston University’s hospitality school tuition, and later assumed operations and marketing roles with notable restaurant groups, before joining Smith & Wollensky in 2010.
“I strongly encourage operations experience. If you can’t communicate to the boots on the ground, you won’t be great at marketing. They’re your brand ambassadors,” says Lapine.
Business foresight prompted her to study Web and graphic design, better preparing her for her current job.
“The hardest thing to do in marketing is prove that spending millions in a particular arena reaches anyone. With digital media, there are so many analytics available throughout a campaign. Everything you do is measurable. You can build an ROI model to share with financial folks and marketers, monitor progress, and base decisions on real data,” says Lapine.
Today, the company utilizes online media platforms to communicate its commitment to quality.
“Our key bartenders and brand partners post on their social media accounts. We share stories and video about our USDA prime beef vendors, wineries, and food purveyors that engage guests,” says Lapine. “We also monitor an online dashboard that pulls customer reviews from Open Table about our brand, from which we often make decisions.”
With nine nationwide locations (the original NYC location is owned and operated by another restaurant group), over 1,000 employees, and sales topping $18 million at some restaurants annually, to nab a top earning spot, “There’s no one set path,” says Lapine. “The president of our company began as butcher’s assistant. I’ve seen dishwashers become Sous Chefs. For those with passion and a willingness to learn, the sky’s the limit.”
Lapine herself aspires to become Chief Marketing Officer.
“At the senior level, you’re able to partake in an equity sharing program,” she says. “You’re more of an invested partner and involved in strategic decisions.”
Bites of advice:
- Gain operations expertise to connect with workers who uphold your brand from the ground up.
- Increase yours and your organization’s social media savvy to boost customer loyalty and the bottom line.
- Absorb all you can and maintain razor sharp focus. Success is bound to follow such commitment.
With huge growth expectations over the next three years (2,000 new posts) and the company’s restaurants sales alone tracking towards $250 million for 2014, Kimpton’s concept development group plays a pivotal organizational role.
These idea generators work with a real estate development team to analyze a location’s competition and determine which restaurant concepts will likely succeed.
For example, “We recently re-launched a space in San Francisco, now named, Dirty Habit,” says Lin. “The new bar-centric concept includes an outdoor patio, which proved to be a game-changer for that neighborhood. It’s one of our best performing restaurants to date this year.”
When conceptualizing Pacci Italian Kitchen + Bar, at The Brice, Kimpton’s recently-opened Savannah, Georgia boutique-hotel property, “We recruited a popular local chef/restaurateur as a consultant to help us connect with the local community. It’s played out well. We’ve gained great press in that marketplace,” says Lin.
And on the F&B side, “Top management are earning at least six-figures, with profit incentives tied to performance,” says Lin. “We’re competing against independent restaurants and want to foster an entrepreneurial environment to make people feel more vested in the business.”
Bites of advice:
- Creativity is a hot commodity. Use it to your advantage and to evolve your company’s brand.
- Take advantage of local PR opportunities to craft great word of mouth for your business.
- Assume an entrepreneurial mindset. The money is there for those fixated on a business’ potential.
A view from the top in the restaurant world takes innovation, drive and impassioned concentration. Lead chefs and bartenders with rock star appeal can reap monetary and intrinsic rewards for their culinary and motivational prowess. For innovative and Internet-savvy minds, hot professional niches, including social media marketing and new concept development, are worth exploring. If you can handle biting off more than you can chew and hungry to succeed, you can command a six-figure paycheck, while living your passion.
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Sep 03, 14
Join us for our Hcareers Hospitality Career Fair in Toronto on September 23rd from 1-5p.
Spend the day speaking with representatives from leading hospitality companies and meet HR reps and hiring managers face-to-face! Save time, money and effort interviewing with multiple companies in one day.
Hcareers Career Fairs are a great way for you to explore potential employment opportunities and learn more about hospitality employers who are actively hiring.
Register today and find your dream job next month!
123 Queen Street W.
Toronto, ON M5H 2M9, Canada
We’ll see you there!
Aug 27, 14
By Hcareers Account Executive, Mike Horan
Having never been to Las Vegas before, I thought it ill-advisable to write a blog about it. After all, I must be the ONLY person on this planet who has never been to Vegas. Most people would just think….’been there, done that. Nevertheless, a hub of the Hospitality Industry; several culinary treats awaits even the meekest of travellers.
“Vegas is great”! Say my friends, whom have, on several occasions (usually in the middle of my back-swing or a difficult, breaking putt) regaled me with stories I find utterly distasteful, if not meaningless and outright pestilential. Vegas has always struck me as place without soul; a quagmire of greed, spurned-on by the darker and less-intelligent side of human nature.
“You go down with $1000, and you come back minus that $1000, and another $1000 owing on your credit card”! They would say, big smiles on their faces….looking at me like I was some kind of idiot….Um, sorry fellas, that does NOT sound like fun to me.
My pre-conceived images bore visions of baseless, immoral, greedy people; zombieistic wanderers seemingly wearing dollar sign contact lenses; groups of money-minded hustlers, intent on pursuing the fantastical concept of ‘easy-money’. I recall so well the words of actor Robert DeNiro’s character ‘Ace Rothstein’ in the movie Casino, “….Vegas is a place where millions of suckers fly in every year on their own nickel, and leave behind about a billion dollars….” How true. I harboured images of James Bond films (Diamonds are Forever) casino scenes where the dress code seemed to be tailored tuxedos coupled with sultry sequins worn by people buzzing on the noxious mixture of alcohol and oxygen. Was this what I was in for?
Surely enough, during a hot week in August, while my two daughters were busy with their annual Girl Guide Campout Week on the Sunshine Coast, my wife and I, accompanied by another couple, decided to take that ‘frivolous pilgrimage’, that ‘adventure venture’, that ‘soulless sojourn’, …..Yes, I would finally see for myself the charming, luring siren we call Las Vegas, Nevada. An apparitional sign slapped on my back saying “Soddom and Gomorrah or Bust”….away we went; four nights of restaurants, shows and casinos (not to mention a solo road trip through the hot, sticky, deceiving Nevada desert across The Extra Terrestrial Highway up to Area 51 and an alien burger at the Little Aleinn Restaurant in Rachel NV)
Staying at the MGM Grand was an experience all in its own; the lobby, for instance, was the size of a hockey rink, and this seemed common to all the properties along The Strip….they were huge! (Better get those skates moving to beat the growing line-up at check-in, but by the time I crossed the blue line, the queue had diminished substantially.). Of course, the casinos were three times the size of the lobbies. The room was nice enough, overlooking The Strip and offering a view of the distant brown, arid mountains all the way out to Nellis AFB. The view was not at all British Columbia-like. Rather the opposite. I became enraptured in its rustic, plain, bromidic beauty. The landscape and sky was utterly mesmerizing….taking on the look of a back-lit, multi-toned chroma key. A vast blue sky offered various hues of baby blue, and acted as a backdrop for the majestic expanse of ochre-coloured, dusty-tinged mountain ranges. I was ruefully ripped from this brief, peaceful introspection by the shrill of the bedside phone; our friends had arrived in their room and wanted to organize a quick blackjack blitz (already? Geez)
Directly across the street stood the New York, NY hotel, in all its fraudulent, simulated glory, resplendent with a surrounding roller coaster dazzling and weaving above and around a miniature Manhattan. Who knew that Las Vegas Boulevard housed the Empire State Building as well as the Eiffel Tower? Distances along the Strip are highly deceiving. A walk up to the Mirage to see the Beatles LOVE Cirque du Soleil took close to an hour….if only because I wanted to stop to see the fountains of Caesar’s Palace….you know, the ones Evel Knievel jumped over at the cost of 42 broken bones? No hotel impressed me with such zeal as The Venetian though….wow, what a great job done here to stand out amongst other The Strip hotels. If you’re there, take a Gondola ride; it was quite nice (who cares that the water is a chlorinated, crystal blue swimming pool and doesn’t smell like the rat-infested sewage of Venice Italy; the dude spoke Italian….what more do you want in Nevada? Plus, he didn’t ask to guzzle your bottle of wine like they do on the real Venice gondolas (I lost half a bottle of Chianti once upon a time on a Gondola in Venice….oh yes, sometimes you really do have to ‘stand up’ in an Italian canoe Bur that’s another story I’ll tell you another time…..now let’s talk about restaurants….
There are plenty of gimmicky theme places on the strip – Margaritaville, Kahunaville, Dick’s Last Resort, Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar and Grill, BB King’s Blues Club, Diablos, Gilley’s etc – but I wouldn’t say any of the “fun” places are necessarily all that great. Just typical burger and fries fare usually. I tried a few…listed below, regardless of cost. (either that or I grab a hotdog and blow money on blackjack)
A ‘fun’ restaurant is Kahunaville…. I have a penchant for exotic island-infused drinks in a fun, lively atmosphere. I’m a sucker for delightful tropical fare (Macadamia Crusted Mahi Mahi or Piña Colada Chicken) while sipping signature frozen cocktails and traditional drink creations Kahunavilles is known for…how many of those did I have again? Sure, it sounds ‘kitschy’, but it’s in a hotel called Treasure Island, so it is fitting. I also tried CAPOS, a luxurious mob-style, speakeasy themed restaurant with tantalisingly succulent rib and steak dishes, not to mention traditional Italian cuisine. This unique establishment offers live nightly entertainment, and incredible food: truly a unique offering you won’t find anywhere else in Las Vegas.
Of course, there is a resident PF Chang’s for that Asian, MSG fix (they have a very nice bar to wait in while your table gets readied, and the barkeep is skilled and steady-handed) Chinese flair for sure, and the food is noticeably different than your usual Chinese fare.
How many have clamoured into Planet Hollywood over the recent years is still unknown, but their Strip House competes with some of the most prominent steak houses in the US, along with their knack for signature side-dishes. (be sure to try their garlic bread with Gorgonzola Fondue). Or if a dressed up burger is what you’re into, chomp down on one of Gordon Ramsay’s internationally-infused burgers (didn’t hear him screaming in the kitchen, though I listened intently)
After gaining weight (and few blackjack bucks) I would definitely return to this crazy pod of unique, frivolous culture. There is so much more to do, see (& eat)….besides, I didn’t get to see Carrot Top!
Photo courtesy of Steven Depolo
Aug 20, 14
Hi there, welcome to Hcareers’ new blog!
You might notice that it’s still in the works. Thanks for your patience as we get it all settled with our new and improved look.
Thanks for stopping by, check back soon to see the latest and greatest!
Thanks from all of us at Hcareers.
Jul 08, 14
Back in March, we shared that Great Wolf Lodge was hiring for its New England location. We’re back to announce that they’ve since opened their doors!
The 406 all-suite resort features 12 unique suite configurations in the property’s two wings. Each suite comes with a refrigerator, microwave, coffee maker and waterpark admission passes. The 68,000 square foot indoor waterpark holds 300,000 gallons of water! Entertainment is also widely available with character appearances, a MagiQuest game, Cub Club on Wheels, Wolf Walk, Northern Lights Arcade, a kid spa and much, much more.
Interested in a job with Great Wolf Lodge New England? Check out open positions today!
About Great Wolf Lodge
Great Wolf Lodge is North America’s largest family of indoor waterpark resorts and the brand leader in the
waterpark resort industry. Great Wolf Lodge is a first-class, full-service, year-round destination resort. Extending far beyond waterparks, Great Wolf Resorts provides families with quality accommodations, exceptional service,as well as popular proprietary amenities all under one roof – creating family traditions, one family at a time.
Great Wolf Lodge New England is the company’s 12th indoor waterpark resort. Great Wolf Lodge properties are located in: Wisconsin Dells, WI; Sandusky, OH; Traverse City, MI.; Kansas City, KS; Williamsburg, VA; Pocono Mountains, PA.; Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada; Mason, OH, Grapevine, TX, Grand Mound, WA; Concord, NC and Fitchburg, MA.
Apr 29, 14
Looking for the perfect hospitality job? Located near Dallas, Texas? Hcareers has the perfect solution for you – register today for our Dallas Hospitality Career Fair taking place on June 3rd.
Hospitality career fairs are like a rehearsal for a job interview. You have the opportunity to meet with prospective employers, present your skills and credentials, and plan your employment strategy. But as with any job interview, you must prepare properly to make the most of the fair.
Tips to benefit from your hospitality career fairs
- Get the list of presenters before you attend the fair.
- Concentrate your time with potential employers who are closely aligned with your vision. For instance, if you’re interested in a career with a large hotel chain with properties worldwide, find out which of these companies will be attending.
- Research your “hit list” beforehand. Online information coupled with the career fairs makes you a more intelligent job seeker.
- Set your goal for the fair. Your strategy should be to come away with an opportunity for follow-up and/or an interview. “The fair is designed to break down the wall that might exist between job seeker and employer, provide access and approachability, in a setting that’s less formal than a meeting,” says Romoff. “There’s less stress, and you’re not put on the spot and evaluated through a series of questions.”
- Make sure your resume is up-to-date and professional, and bring several copies to give to prospective employers.
- Engage employers in conversation about their businesses, their possible openings, and where you might fit into their organization.
- Don’t forget your follow-up. This ensures potential hospitality employers know you’re interested and available.
After attending a career fair, the door should be wide open for you!
Mar 20, 14
With a June 1 opening date quickly approaching, Great Wolf Lodge New England is in the process of hiring nearly 500 employees for its 406-room resort. Positions are available across all areas of the lodge and will include guest relations, kids experience, housekeeping, aquatics, food and beverage, retail and more.
“Our employee ‘Pack Members’ are the essence of the Great Wolf Lodge experience,” shared John Curty, Senior Vice President of Administration. “We are looking for enthusiastic individuals who want to grow with us and help make lasting memories for our visiting families.”
Great Wolf Lodge New England is a first-class destination resort that offers families more than 100,000 square feet of entertainment offerings and lodging amenities, all under one roof. The centerpiece of the resort is the massive indoor waterpark featuring signature water rides and attractions, including the thrilling six-story funnel slide, Howlin’ Tornado; the Slap Tail Pond wave pool; and Fort Mackenzie, the multi-level interactive tree house with a tipping bucket capable of dumping hundreds of gallons of water. With all of these amenities and offerings, Great Wolf Lodge has something for everyone.
Located off Route 2 in Fitchburg, Great Wolf Lodge New England is the company’s twelfth resort and features the largest indoor waterpark in Massachusetts.
All candidates must be at least 16 years of age and have the availability to work nights and weekends. Part-time and full-time positions are available.
Applicants may attend an information session at 6 p.m. on April 1 and 2 in the Performing Arts Theatre at Mount Wachusett Community College. Current Great Wolf Lodge Pack Members will be on-hand to share information about the Company and discuss the positions available at the resort. Attendance at an information session is not required; all interested candidates must apply online.
Great Wolf Lodge is an equal opportunity employer.
For more information on Great Wolf Resorts and its brands of indoor waterpark resorts, visit greatwolf.com/newengland. Or, apply today!
Great Wolf Lodge photo