I never intended to work in the restaurant industry, much less become a chef. So when I took my first job in a restaurant, I figured it would be a good way to make a quick buck until I found another position. On my first day, I was assigned to the salad station. Even though I had no idea what I was doing, as soon as I started to work the line something just clicked. It felt right and I knew that this was exactly where I wanted to be long term.
Since that first fateful day of tossing lettuce, I’ve opened several restaurants in Texas including Woodshed Smokehouse, Love Shack, Queenie’s Steakhouse and my flagship restaurant Lonesome Dove Western Bistro, which I am excited and humbled to announce that I will open a second location of in the heart of downtown Austin. Despite the challenges and hard work that lies ahead until those doors open, nothing beats watching guests enjoy the food and atmosphere you’ve carefully planned and created. There’s no better high than the rush of excitement on opening night – I can’t wait to hop in the kitchen and serve Austin some of my signature food with big, bold flavors and fresh, dynamic ingredients.
Despite the challenges and hard work that lies ahead until those doors open, nothing beats watching guests enjoy the food and atmosphere you’ve carefully planned and created.
Over my career of opening restaurants, cooking at food and music festivals around the world, competing in cooking competitions and growing my business from a single brick-and-mortar restaurant to a brand that includes 5 restaurants and a catering company, I’ve learned a lot. And now I’ve been given the amazing opportunity to share the lessons I’ve learned with eager young entrepreneurs on my show, Restaurant Startup. On the show, my friend and esteemed restaurateur Joe Bastianich and I decide whether we want to put our own money into food and restaurant concepts presented to us by contestants. We put them through a trial run to see if they have what it takes to turn an idea into a profitable business. I love it because it’s a real look at how the restaurant business runs beyond just the food.
It’s great to share what I’ve learned while seeking out authentic, focused ideas that I believe in enough to invest my time, money and energy in. Everything changes when that first dollar comes across the table! It means they need to take the advice I have to offer and put a ton of hard work and care into every detail of the restaurant.
It's pretty simple: Listen, learn, and work hard. If you are applying that to something you are passionate about, of course, the fun will follow!