Restaurant Rockstars Episode 382

Chef Shares Great Restaurant Kitchen Success

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Leading a great restaurant kitchen is difficult.

It takes experience, skill, the desire to teach, patience, calm under pressure and the right chops. Most of all it takes a passion for food, people, and new experiences.

In this episode of the Restaurant Rockstars Podcast, I’m speaking with Chef Jarad McConnell of Ocean Club St. Barths. He rose from culinary school, cooking competitions and numerous restaurant kitchens to nurture, lead and inspire his team to greatness.

Listen as Chef Jarad shares his wisdom on restaurant kitchen success including:

• The importance of having and being a mentor
• Key learnings that to continue to influence and make a difference
• How to exceed the highest guest expectations
• Why being an “intrapreneur” advances restaurant careers
• The keys to a strong kitchen culture
• Team spirit between front and back of house
• Why every impression and the smallest details count

Chef offers insights, experience and advice to future and current culinary professionals.

Don’t miss this episode!

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Connect with our guest:

 Today, I’m speaking with Chef Jarad McCarroll, a really inspired chef who started out his career growing up in South Africa and suddenly finding out that his real calling in life was becoming a culinary professional. And so he jumped on a plane and went to Switzerland and studied cooking.

At a cooking school and he learned about the passion for the business and then later moved on to a first gig in London at the Ritz and just the immersive experiences that he’s had that shaped his life, shaped his career. And now as an entrepreneur, just running a very illustrious property on the Island of St.

Bart’s and opening a new restaurant in Montauk. And we talk about leadership and the foundational elements of building a team and, delivering. To guest expectations when it’s a discerning clientele and all the experiences in between, including winning a very illustrious cooking competition by taking a risk.

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Welcome back. This is the Restaurant Rockstars Podcast. So glad you’re with us. Chef Jarad, how are you today? Glad to have you on the show.

I’m fantastic. Thank you very much. Glad to be here with you, sir. I

really like chef episodes because obviously culinary is near and dear to my heart as a restaurant owner.

I worked with lots of chefs and kitchen managers over the years, and it is definitely a calling. It’s a vocation. It’s about pride. It’s about passion. So I’m sure you’re going to tell us all about that, but it all starts with your beginnings. When did you find out that you really wanted to get involved in culinary and restaurants and just this business of hospitality?

So I’ve always

had a big, deep love for cooking and hospitality and I wanted to be a chef from a young age. Actually, people might mock me for it, but I really like the show Ready Steady Cook and Ainsley Harriot and his sort of charismatic personality. So I wanted to become a chef from quite a young age, but my my parents pushed me in the career choice of my father, marketing, management, and something more known than unknown.

And We had a sort of a unfortunate circumstance in my family where I lost my brother and it opened up my mom to a more spiritual sort of being. And she went to actually a tarot card reader, and she called me one day, I was working in Johannesburg at a place called Winchester Marketing. And she called me on the phone.

She says, Jarad, you’re not gonna believe what happened and what I discovered today. So I was, my mind was a million miles away from the conversation that was about to occur. And she said, you won’t believe it, but I went to this tarot card reader. So I was like, okay. She said when she arrived at the tarot card reader, she just wanted to speak about try and connect with my brother a little bit, my sister and myself, and, she wanted to make sure that we were safe, etc.

And when it got to me, she said, this lady said, is your son good with his hands? So my mom was like, not 100 percent sure what you mean by is he good with his hands? Yeah yeah. She said he, you gotta, he’s gotta study to be a chef. And he can’t study in South Africa. He needs to leave South Africa and he has to go to somewhere like Switzerland.

So when I was hearing this, I was like, what? So I Googled some some places in Switzerland. And within three months I left my house, my job, my car, and I was on a plane chasing a dream. And that’s a crazy story. This is how the journey

began. That’s awesome. That is so unique and so different, but it really speaks to follow a dream, follow an idea, see where it’ll lead.

You don’t know where it’s going to lead, but it’s going to be extraordinary. And sometimes you got to leave the shore to figure out if, what your life is really all about. So that’s what I’m hearing so far. This is an exciting story. So you land in Switzerland. How old were you again? I was 20-21.

Okay, so you’re a young person, you’re just starting on your journey, really, trying to figure out life, and you’re on a plane to Switzerland. Where did you go to Zurich? Did you go to Geneva? Where’d you go? So

I actually went to this a funny name for the school, it was called DCT. . It was International Hotel Management and Business school.

Okay. And it was in small town called WI Now Switzerland. And it was in the state of Lucerne and the DCT actually stood for Dreams Come True. I love it. Yeah, so it was. Yeah, I was a little bit older. Most people start cooking when they’re 16. So it was like a crash course where we did three month modules.

And it was like FEC, which is Foundation European Cuisine, EGC, European Gourmet Cuisine, and European Pastry and Chocolate EPC. So it’s three months modules and then a nine month internship. It was really interesting. I loved it.

So internship, while you were still going through this program, you worked in a live restaurant setting, applying the skills that you were learning.

Is that how it worked or?

We did have something like that. So in European gourmet cuisine, you would cook four meals every day. And it was quite interesting in that way, but they also had a staff canteen where they would do dummy runs for staff and for the local, for the students.

But after each module or at the end of studying all three modules, you were placed into a hotel or a school a hotel or restaurant somewhere in Switzerland and I was placed in a small hotel called Castagna Bar. Which was really wasn’t exactly the kind of cooking that I was looking for, but the experience and the people that I met were unbelievable, and it got me ready for the next chapter.

So you

couldn’t really see that at the time, but you still knew that you were going to take something away from it, learn something that you could apply to where you ultimately wanted to go. And everything leads to something, right? Certainly people take wrong turns and dead ends, but they’re learning experiences.

And then you move on to the next thing and you take something positive from it and you apply that. So what happened next?

Yeah, your philosophy there for me is spot on. It’s in every circumstance, whether good, bad, there’s always a message and there’s always something to learn from it.

I have this saying that I try and teach my my team, and it’s the wise man can learn from the fool, but the fool cannot learn from the wise man. It’s if we open ourselves and we allow ourselves to be present and be open in each and every circumstance, there’s always something to learn.

So from Switzerland I graduated valedictorian. I went to I had one job, I went to London and I had one interview and it was at the Ritz hotel in London. And I didn’t really know. Yeah, I didn’t really know much about London but I knew that the Ritz was a big sort of shot, so I visualized myself working there, and it was like, I remember meeting John Williams, who was the executive chef, and he was like this big Geordie, and it was like really intimidating, and at this stage I must have been 22, 23, sort of alpha male, like really strong character, strong presence, and I walked into this brigade, and it’s like the army, You know, I have this one interview, managed to get the job, start the job, and it’s I’m going from this confident guy to this It’s just this insignificant commie, commie chef, and no one’s insignificant, but that’s how I felt maybe at that time.

And I had these 18, 19 year old guys running around, like calling me oi, yeah. What did they used to say? Oi, Larry. And just it’s surreal sort of experience and like very militant sort of old school kitchen brigade where it’s this is the structure, this is where you are.

Yeah. Not anything, it’s, you’re not allowed to talk back. You’re not allowed to say anything. You just gotta put your head down and bold your way

up, polish the pans, peel the potatoes, do whatever we ask you to do. Yeah. And immerse yourself and take on more responsibility and demonstrate what you can do.

I’m sure all that happened, but this is a great story. Keep going.

Yeah. So it’s about being a sponge. I knew that I’d started my career later than most people. And I was like, okay, I need to absorb. And I really had a difficult time with the Ritz. Like it was not the easiest part for me.

Like I said, I was strong mentality, I played high high level of rugby in South Africa. I always carried myself with this like alpha male sort of thing. And here I was in this kitchen of 55 chefs. At the bottom, like being called or it was a ball bag, a boy bag or ball bag, like 19 year old guys are like skinny twigs and, calling me these names and bossing me around.

So it was a big mental adjustment, but I knew that I had to it was like my internship and I needed to master every sort of section. So I started on the ladder and it took about two and a half, almost three years to get through every section. And I knew I wanted to. Get every section under my belt so that I could take that and then use that as my foundation moving forward.

With a solid foundation and a solid knowledge base, you you can pick up things a lot easier. So that was the intention. It took it took some time. It was not easy. A couple times I got kicked out. So I’ll give you a funny story. So I’m on the latter section and we, it’s the section where we’re cooking for the bar, like the Rivoli bar, which is but we have sandwiches and burgers, pizzas, and things like that.

I’m cooking and it’s like 1130, service began really early. I wasn’t set up and it started to go bad. I was like getting yelled at by a sous chef and then another sous chef came and screamed at me a little bit and then they just kept on getting, and I remember trying to grab a ladle.

And it fell and it landed in the fryer and it kind of splashed oil everywhere and I was like, oh no, and and I smiled. I was like, in my mind, I was like, oh my gosh, when it rains, it pours. And the sous chef saw me smile and he just went out, he went ballistic. He’s get out of the kitchen, get out.

And there’s like this long corridor. And the corridor was the staff canteen, and there was, this was just before lunch. So 1130, and all of the staff like came out of the corridor and the changing rooms were passed. So I had to walk, I had to walk past all the staff, like head down, go down to the changing room, get changed, sat outside, called my brother in law I don’t know what to do.

Yeah, it was, yeah, not exactly the my leadership sort of style, these things build character.

So that must have had a big impression on how you ultimately decided to lead your own kitchens because, management by intimidation is not leadership, it’s, it’s barking orders at people and, and it just puts you in a stressful situation.

I’ve been in situations before in similar. I was a bartender at a very nice restaurant when I was a young person in college, and we definitely had a chef like that, and he ruled that kitchen with an iron fist, and everyone was afraid of this person, and it wasn’t really teamwork, or it wasn’t really respect.

It was like, I got to stay out of his way, and that’s really not the philosophy of getting the most or the best out of your people, I think. But it was formulative for you. You took some things away from that, and maybe some of it was good and some of it you decided to change. So I think that’s a perfect segue into leadership right now.

Tell us about what you believe in the people that work under you, and how you develop people, and how you recognize talent in them, and how you really get the best from your people.

Yeah, you have a great point. We can learn from everyone. Like I said, the fool can learn.

The wise man can learn from the fool, but these kind of people

old school chefs. And what happened was I decided that this is not the kind of mentality I wanted. And the way, I’m, I have a brand now called the Ocean Club. We have one in St. Barts. We’re opening one in Montauk. And the way that I lead my team is through empowerment. And I see myself building this brand by empowering my staff.

And, if I can get to a point where I’m leading my team and they feel good about themselves, they feel important about the work that they’re doing and they come to work with a sense of meaning and a sense of pride. And, they’re leading their own lives in the correct way.

Then the communication with the guests will be open. They will be much more receptive to being present in that moment with the guests. And this is the way I like to lead. I’m a big fan of sort of positive mental health and spiritual growth. I want to build, my goal is to build this brand by empowering these sort of people and empowering my staff and removing the negative weeds from our lives and replacing them with things that are going to help us grow and succeed.

Yeah, that’s

very uplifting and upleveling. And I definitely believe in empowerment. And just for our audience benefit, they all know that I’m a huge believer in empowering versus delegating. Anybody can tell somebody what to do or how to do it, like that chef you were telling me about. But it’s rare to lead by example and recognize talent in other people and, give them additional responsibility if you see some, something special in them, and then recognize and reward that performance.

And even if things go sideways and they don’t adapt to it immediately, it’s not about criticizing. It’s about positive critiquing and showing them the right way and just giving them the room to make mistakes. And then when they do start to get it and rise up, it’s wow, how amazing that is. That’s really how you build a team.

And I’m really glad you shared that. That word empowerment is super powerful. And I really want everyone to understand that point. What inspirations have you had throughout your career in terms of culinary styles? And there’s so many different cuisines from around the world. And I know you’ve been exposed to a lot of different ones.

You must have your favorites. And what influences your cooking and your kitchens now?

So after the Ritz, I jumped around a bit, went through a few different kitchens. Yeah, I went from Kitchen WA to I was at the Chiltern Firehouse for a little bit, but I did like six to eight month stages, picked up as much as I could learn from the chef then moved on.

So I got this opportunity to come to St. Bart’s. I think it was in 90, no, 2018 or 2017, but as I arrived, so I was literally leaving London. So I just had my first order. We had sent our dog two days before, we’d shipped all of our stuff two months before. We just had our summer clothes. We’re leaving London.

We get on a plane and we have to stop in in Denmark. So we arrive in Denmark. No, not in Denmark. Yes. And as we arrive, we have news that the island has been hit by by Hurricane Irma. Yeah. Yeah. This huge hurricane has just come and destroyed, it wasn’t Denmark, it was Amsterdam. .

I’m like, I have no, there’s a radio silence from the hotel, I’ve literally shipped all my stuff there. I’m like, with my wife and my first child, my dog is sitting in limbo in Amsterdam. I’m like, Oh my gosh, what are we going to do? I don’t know if I have a, is the building

still standing? Is it underwater? It’s like, where’s our stuff?

 I have no idea what’s going on, like at all. So I’m like, what are we going to do? So I, like I get my wife, I’m like, okay, we get the dog, we get the dog safe. She’s with us because it was still Europe.

We meet these beautiful people. They give us a house to stay in. Cut a long story short, we end up spending about 39 days in Amsterdam. Yeah, before, before we managed to make it to the island, so we make it to the island and I’m like, okay, great. We make it to the island. Now what?

I went from executive chef to commie gardener, like I’m moving pot plants and I’m like, Oh my gosh. I like, this is depending like the, the prime of my career, I should be, not wasting a minute or so I speak to my wife. I’m like, okay, what are we going to do? How do I how can we make the most of the situation?

Like I was feeling a little bit like frustrated and a little bit angry with everything that was going on. So she says to me, yeah. Before we were watching Netflix and Chef’s Table, I was like, I would love to go and work for some of the top 100 chefs in the world. It was the one thing. I’d worked for some really great establishments, but I’ve never got the opportunity to study under a top 100 chef.

So I went I spoke to the owners of the hotel. I was like, look, me being a comic gardener is not good for me. We’re not doing anything for anyone. It’s just not working. Would it be possible for me to go and study in Copenhagen? So I went to Copenhagen and I worked for Restaurant Relais Amas and Restaurant Geranium.

 I was there for 11 weeks, like as a fly on the wall, at that sort of level of my career, being able to go and study for these amazing chefs was just like, unbelievable. So And it was also, most of my career was French dining, it was French food, that was the kind of style that I knew, the Ritz, studying in Switzerland, all of the sort of kitchens were French influence, and then this was my first insight into Nordic cuisine, a little bit more pushing the boundaries and seeing something new and different.

So it was a very good point in my career to see something different very interesting. And it influenced my food in a way where it’s more modern European now, and I like, that’s how I cook mainly with French techniques but using some of these Scandinavian techniques as well.

Wonderful. When you were in Copenhagen, did you have major responsibility? Did you work different stations? Did you have primary responsibility? What was that like? Did you get rotated through different experiences?

Most of it was staging. So it was like, I’m working for free. So I’m literally the guy picking, picking flowers.

So I worked at a relay was at a mass first, and there you move through different sections. I did help them with the grilling, like grilling is like my sort of style. I like to combine grilling and refined flavors. So I was like using a big sort of green egg and I was like teaching them how to polish the grill, make it like super shiny to get the perfect bar marks.

 I went to Relais, The first three days, the kitchen is completely open. And it was very interactive. Within three days, I was ready on the floor, helping serve. You’re on stage. Yeah. Yeah. All eyes are on you. Yeah, straight into the sort of fire.

But it was a bit of everything, some of the grunt work. When I went to Geranium, which is like number one a couple years ago my wrist was sore from picking so many flowers and so many herbs. I had like cramps from just sitting there and just picking you’ve got to pick, okay, this is the biggest.

And this and this is the smallest it has to be in between these two jars. So you sat there and almost a razor sharp focus to try and pick these leaves. But it’s like a three star restaurant, top 10 in the world. So that’s amazing. The attention to detail is just next to the next level.

Oh,

that’s awesome. Where did the competitions come in? I know you’ve Participated in different cooking competitions, London, Switzerland, that sort of thing. Was that part of this journey too, or was that much later in your career?

So from the beginning, I I entered competitions. I’m extremely competitive in my nature, South African, rugby, when I was in Switzerland at school after literally six months of cooking, there was a competition that they had called ZAG, Z A G and there was like 19 people from our school that went to this competition. There were two alumni who came back from, who had already left the school and came back to compete in it.

And it was I was on stage at that time with with another guy and he’d been cooking for 13 years. And I was cooking this, what I was cooking was pretty cool. It was a duck and chicken Ballantine. So on one side was a chicken breast and then the other side was a duck breast.

And then there was like a fast in between with some sun dried cherry tomatoes and I rolled it and I cooked the duck medium. And the chicken breast was cooked through, and I’d never, I’d practiced this five times, and I’ve never got it perfect, except for the day of the competition. Oh wow, that’s awesome.

Yeah, and like, when I cut this You took

a risk there, didn’t you? It’s okay, I’ve done this so many times before, it’s never come out quite perfect, but something about you, did you think, hey, I can do it this time, or just say, what the heck, we’re gonna give it a go? Wow,

 I used to literally wake up in the morning and with the steam in the shower write gold.

Like I wanted a gold plate so bad. I just elevated down on the fabric. I write gold. I just believed that I knew that I was going to get it. I think it was the 19 that went two, two of us won gold.

It was myself and another little .

Oh man, what a boost. What a confidence builder. What a cool experience. That’s tremendous. Great

story there. It was a, yeah, it was. It was awesome. And then when I went to the Ritz, there was another competition that was called Annual Award of Excellence. And this time I had just been at the Ritz for a little bit and I was on the, like I said, the bar section and the, my, my chef was like, I went to him, I was like, chef John Williams, I would love to enter.

He said, you, you can’t enter. Everyone was taking it, but he’s okay, if you’re going to answer, you need to practice like six times. So there were five semifinals around the whole of the UK. Each one had 15 people in it. So I entered one of these semi finals. So I make it through the semi final to the final and everyone was like, Oh, well done.

You made it this far. You’re not going to get any further. You know what I mean? You’re not gonna, you’re not going to go any further. Well done for making this far. So we had 15 people in in the final now. So from those five semi finals, only 15 people got selected to cook in the final. And then.

I remember being on stage and they’re calling up the guys and they called my name. So I managed to win an annual award of excellence. And I was like the commie and the number two in the restaurant and the guy by the name of Adam Smith also got called up. And like, all of a sudden we’re sitting next together and I grabbed his, he’s don’t touch me.

But again, an amazing experience. And if you don’t take the risks and if you don’t , put yourself out there to fail you’re never going to get anything without any sort of sacrifice or uncomfortable, being uncomfortable is where the growth happens, being comfortable is where we surrender and go away to wither and die.

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Now, that’s a lot like taking a new position where you just move into a new kitchen and you’re not familiar with the people, you’re not familiar with the equipment. You gotta get, you gotta get your legs under you. And in a competition like this, how much time do you have to put a dish out?

And aren’t you under pressure? You’ve gotta finish within so much time and you gotta time everything perfectly so that it all just comes together, and then, wow, I got an extra minute to spare, and here it is, and it’s hot, and you present it to the judges. Is it something like

that? Exactly. So yeah, I think, yeah, we had 90 minutes to prepare one dish that we knew, and it was like mystery sort of dish, was like a dress crab.

Which was meant to be done in the show, and then, like a pasta dessert of blood orange and you had to, you had a time planning, so you’re allowed to plan your hour and a half before you started, and you would write everything down, and that’s where the, my work in Switzerland did, because this is what they did they taught you how to plan your day, how to plan your sort of timing so that you can use and maximize that hour and a half, and then it’s like, ready set go and then you blink and the hard half is gone.

And you’re like, Oh my God. In the end, you’re just like trying to put everything together and get it all ready and hot. But unbelievable experiences. Like I said, these are like, for me, I encourage all sorts of chefs, waiters, anyone who’s in any industry to push themselves beyond their comfort zone and take these risks because this is where you grow.

These sort of experiences shape you to, to become a better leader, a better, a better mentor, etc. That’s a perfect segue

into your experience with M Restaurants. Can you talk all about that experience?

Ah, so M was my first head chef role. So before M, I was at Chilton Firehouse, which was like, Chilton Firehouse was a beast.

We had every celebrity under the sun. It was André Ballard’s first restaurant in London. Yes, I misnamed that. Yeah, we had eight people that we hired to literally just say no, they just pick up the phone and say no, like you can get into this restaurant if you try it, we had Madonna, Bill Clinton was there one time like everyone, Iron Man and all of these guys, so I was there, I got an opportunity to run the show at another restaurant, so left there, went to M restaurants, so which is in the city and bank and we were meant to, it was a big restaurant.

We had two different concepts, a raw side, a grill restaurant. We did up to 350, 350 covers in one sort of sitting. In one service. So like on the grill section, we had a Jospa, hit it. And on the other side where there’s open grill and like you were sandwiched between two sort of massive fires.

And it was like, like I said, it was my first head chef role, big learning curve, huge sort of I remember going outside and at this stage in my life, I was I used to smoke cigarettes as most people in our industry do. Luckily I’ve kicked that habit right now, but I went outside and just took this break and just like crushed down with my knees.

I was working a hundred hours a week, something in the city. I worked out one, one week, I spent 18 hours awake outside of work. And that included traveling to work and back. So it was like literally wake up in the morning, go to work, work like from 8 or 7. 30 until 11, 12 at night, train back, same, repeat the same day.

The next day for five days and then the next day was just sleep a little bit. Yeah. Back to work. It was hard. And I was like, if I can make it through this, I can make it through anything.

It’s like boot camp. That’s amazing. And you’re dead on your feet, but does your body ever get used to that?

Because that’s like punishing, yet you’re in the groove and it’s like it’s all, and you just immerse yourself and just somehow keep going without the quality slipping and without making mistakes and like staying sharp and lucid and all those things are important, right?

Yeah, of course. But I think it comes down to mindset.

We are capable of so much more we actually give ourselves credit for. And it’s if you believe that you can do something, you can do it. When I’m at M restaurants now, okay, obviously, in the beginning, it was I was working these hundred odd weeks, It calmed down a little bit, 65, 70 hour weeks, towards when we were running.

And I went to Mallorca to watch my friends over a weekend and they were all doing Ironman. And I was like, okay, I’m gonna watch it. And I was like, sitting on the sidelines and I was like, a little bit overweight. I was like, what is going on here? I’m not the kind of, I’m not the guy that watches these things.

So I was I’d always made excuses. I can’t join them. And I said, screw it. I’m gonna, I’m going to do it. I signed up for a half ironman and I just committed to it. And then all of a sudden it was like, you find more time. It’s I was still working the same hours, but on my lunch break, instead of just doing nothing, I’d go to the gym and I’d work out and then I’d get on the spin bike.

And then, at the end of that, at the end of the shift, I’d run home. So it’s again, it’s like pushing your mind a little bit further than what you think is possible. And then you realize that we’re capable of so much more. There’s so much more out there that we can do than what we think that we can do.

So it’s if we just open our mindset a little bit and allow ourselves to think differently. What we can achieve is much, much bigger. Yeah. The

rewards are there when you step out of your comfort zone. And like you said, take that risk. I love that. That’s beautiful. Let’s talk about culture in a kitchen and maybe the front of house and the back of house team spirit and camaraderie.

It’s different in every restaurant, but sometimes there’s a division there. And, the waitstaff might be afraid to approach the kitchen when something goes sideways, especially in the heat of battle. And when the pressure is on in the kitchen and the 900 degree stoves, it’s like, how do you maintain that balance and build that team so that there’s symbiosis between the two?

Because the show must go on and the guest experience must be flawless. Is that always a challenge or in different kitchens sometimes and not in all? Yeah.

That depends on your leaders in your team. I’ve worked in kitchens where there was a big sort of divide between the floor and At the Ritz, for example, between the floor and the staff.

And you often saw like the two general manager or the managers going like having this huge fallout over each other and who’s, who’s got the biggest I’ve got the biggest ego kind of thing. It’s like a fight for nothing, in the restaurants that I’m building and the hospitality brand that we’re trying to set out to achieve here, it’s.

Everything is about the mindset and it’s we all need to be on the same page and we all need to be swimming in the same direction. This is the goal. It’s regardless of if you’re on the floor, or if you’re serving in the kitchen, like, all my kitchens are open and exposed, so you have an open view of what’s going on.

But regardless of what, where you are in the restaurant you need to be on the same page. So it’s for me, it’s whatever the problem is, sort it out. Make sure the guest doesn’t experience any more suffering or any more discomfort that he’s already experienced. And then, once it’s sorted, we can debrief afterwards and make sure that doesn’t repeat itself.

So it’s fix the problem immediately, if there’s a problem, overcooked steak, undercooked steak, whatever. It’s for me it’s undercooked for, everyone is different and they have their interpretation of what a steak looks like. But, regardless of what we think the guest is, it’s his experience or her experience Let’s fix the problem.

And once the problem is fixed, then we can debrief afterwards and how does that not repeat itself? How do we make it? And we’re learning. It’s like I make mistakes. I had someone the other day and they were sitting there and they had these, I’ve got these beautiful prawns, they’re like, like this sort of big tiger prawns, and yeah, huge, two on a plate, like in a beautiful dressing.

And they came back and she’s it’s fishy. I’ve sent like seven of these already tonight. They’re all from the same sort of batch. I tried one. I’m like, it’s not fishy, man. And I realized afterwards, I, the next day I was like, I didn’t deal with it the best.

So I went to my team and I was like, look, regardless of what happens, like the profit that we make is in the return of the customer. So we’ll make a little bit now, but maybe we lost. If I get it, she wanted the prawns comped. I didn’t comp the prawns and said there was nothing wrong with them.

There was a bit of a fuss. I made her feel uncomfortable. She left with an, she left with an icky feeling. I left with an icky feeling and we both were in a situation where we lost. So like next time this happens. Yeah. That’s. We just comp it. She we will get her business back and then we’ll make the money there.

It’s like the profit is in the return of the guests, not in that just one thing. It’s not let’s not milk the guests while they’re there. That’s, let’s make sure that they come back and they feel comfortable. All, we’re always learning and evolving. But for me, it’s to get the floor and the team to gel to the floor in the kitchen, to be one cohesive sort of machine.

So you’re in a beautiful island setting now, St. Bart’s, and let’s talk about the Ocean Club. Tell me all about the origins and your experience there and the experience that you deliver. Walk us through as if we’re coming in for the very first time and we want a beautiful experience at

the Ocean Club.

Okay. I’m biased. It’s my brand. I’ve seen the photos. They’re spectacular. Yeah. The Ocean Club St. Barts is beautiful. It’s in the heart of Gustavia. For those of people who don’t know what Gustavia is our main sort of city. In St. Barthes, it’s overlooking the marina.

So you’ve got all of these super yachts there. You walk through Dolce Gabbana on the left, you’ve got Prada on the right. You come up to the second floor as you get there. You walk through, as you walk in, there’s this beautiful wooden bar and you can see behind the sort of view you’ve got this open kitchen on the left, so you can walk in, have a drink at the bar, watch the kitchen theater on the left hand side all the space plating and everything, all the action going on there.

And then as you walk around, you’re just struck by this incredible view. There’s many beautiful restaurants and there’s many beautiful views in in St. Barthes. For me, this is I’ve seen literally people walk back and almost take a slap like what is that?

You walk through and then, it’s beautiful, open. So we used to have a small terrace about five meters. We broke down the whole roof and we put up a pergola there. So you literally when you’re sitting there, you’re eating under the stars, you feel like you’re on a yacht. It’s designed to be an extension of your home and your villa.

So we have this incredible location and our goal is to find a product. With food and beverage that is elevated enough to meet this. So it’s like our goal is to bring you something that’s not found in St. Bart’s. I have dishes called Howl Island where it’s in the shape of St.

Bart’s and it’s, it’s. Five different textures of onion with bacon jam. You’ve got these caramelized onions and these pickled onions and bacon jam on top, then crispy shallot soil. And then you’ve got some chives chive oil and you pour this super aromatic onion consomme at the table.

And it’s it comes to life. We’ve got like the tree of life. We have Caviar Illusion by my pastry chef, Simon Picari. And we really pushing to achieve something. Special. It’s we know that the space is unique. Our hospitality is like We want people to come and have an amazing time, and then we want to find ways to elevate it.

It’s don’t force anyone, anything down anyone’s throat. Let them be comfortable, allow them to find a, relaxed space where they feel at home, they feel comfortable, and let’s find ways to make it better. Let’s find ways to elevate that experience. And that’s the kind of goal between behind our hospitality.

It’s really find ways to make these people feel elevated, feel comfortable, and feel at home.

Is there a balance between sort of the exclusivity of what you just described and people that are trying it that hope that it’s approachable and not intimidating? If you’re not just stepping off your, hundred meter yacht, let’s say, but you want to have the experience, is it?

Is it approachable? It

is, it’s your experience. There’s a level of service that’s high. We are at the higher end of St Barts and the higher end of the Caribbean. We have an intention to be there and to sit there and remain there. It’s we want to give you an unbelievable service where you feel pampered and you feel comfortable and it’s not stuffy.

No one’s sitting there with ducktail suits and good evening. You know what I mean? We sit you by there. It’s very comfortable. It’s your home away from home. And it’s we have these elevated dishes like the tree of life and the onion and the red snapper tartar and that caviar illusion, but we also have simply grilled.

So if you want to have a nice piece of salmon, that’s just cooked beautifully with a side of mixed leaf salad or some French fries. It’s available for you. Like I told you, it’s, our goal is to make sure that it’s your experience, that you are comfortable and that you have the experience that you’re looking for.

I’m not trying to stuff anything down your throat. I understand we’re in St. Bart’s, it’s not about being stuffy or pretentious or there’s none of this at the Ocean Club. It’s about being comfortable, relaxed and being able to enjoy your time. When we first opened, we dabbled with the concept of members only.

And it’s was a big flop. And one of the things that we realized was, if you’re in Miami or New York or LA or any of these sort of big sort of cities, you join members clubs to elevate yourself and move, to surround yourself with like minded individuals.

Now, if you’re in St. Barth, You’re already part of this lead group, so it’s I know how important like our guest time is and they’ve, if they’ve dedicated a two hour slot or two and a half hour slot to come in and experience the Ocean Club, we want to give them the best service and the best possible time and the experience, like I said, that they want.

Is your location in Montauk sort of a duplicate of St. Bart’s? Is it different in a certain way? Because the clientele is in the Hamptons is obviously very discerning as well. So the guests might be the same. Is the menu the same? Is the vibe and the ambiance different?

Montauk will be op opening this year, so Oh, you’re opening it?

Okay. Yeah. Yeah. So it’s we’ll be opening in the middle of May. Oh, wow. It’s coming

quickly. Are you involved heavily in that whole development of the property and the restaurant?

You are? Yeah. Same concept, yeah. Yeah. Ocean Club Montauk same design as we have. It’ll be same, big, like my cooking is we cook on open fire, so we have wood and charcoal grills.

And then I elevated with like French techniques. So it’s we’re cooking like back to the basics and then I’m finding ways to elevate that using different products. And this will be the same. It’s we’ll have some highlights. It’s, the difference is Ocean Club St. Bart’s is a 65 seater restaurant.

Ocean Club Montauk is 185 seats. Oh, wow.

Yeah, it’s times bigger.

Yeah, it’s it’s a beast. So it’s yeah, maybe we have there’s not so many steps and not so many small details on the plate, but the quality of the cooking is, will be much Bye. We’ll be maybe the same if you know, but what we do have is a better product, yeah, we live on a small rock.

It’s in the middle of nowhere. And we have to get our products from Miami or from France and they come by ship and plane. And sometimes it’s it’s part of being on this island. It’s not, you don’t have access to the best. In Montauk, we have the best at the doorstep. It’s like we have the best, one of the best fishing ports.

in the United States, like literally right there. We have local farms, we have organic produce, we have all of these different things, which is just like, it makes the work of the chef way less complicated. So it’s about taking the product that’s so beautiful and finding a way to elevate it as well.

That is

absolutely true. Yeah, you’re absolutely right. The middle of Long Island are all the farms and the local produce, like you’re saying, and it’s as fresh as it gets and the seafood’s right off the dock that day. And there must be challenges in St. Barts when you have orders, but you don’t know if they’re going to arrive on time.

And what happens? Are you 86ing things frequently because it didn’t show up or, I can only imagine those challenges. So it’s a complete opposite experience in Montauk.

Yeah, and before I was at the Ocean Club, I was at Hotel de Twenty and, we’ve had weddings where you have, they’ve ordered a specific thing and literally the container, which is holding everything, hasn’t arrived or it’s stuck at the port and it’s literally in the same bus, but we don’t have access to it.

Oh, yeah. Wow. Sometimes you think on your feet. Yeah, but look, this, this thing about stress is like, there’s nothing that we can do it. If we just allow ourselves to surrender to that moment and be like, okay, this is the realization, let’s not resist it because this is the work around.

Yeah. The show must go on. Yeah.

Yes, the show must go on. There’s no point stressing about, ah, the product’s not there. The product is not here, so we need to find a solution. So either we find a similar product, or we change it and we, we wish for the best. But, when you have talent and you’ve worked hard in your career and you’ve built up a solid base, you can manipulate and work these situations where the guest doesn’t feel it.

Maybe we feel it, as the people who go running the show, but the guest doesn’t feel it as much. And that’s the goal. It’s if the guest experience is not affected too much and it’s not yeah, affected, then we’ve done our jobs right.

So you’re a pretty busy guy. Do you still have time to be a private chef and put on instructional classes and also consult?

Do you have time for this? Are you still doing this

actively? Activity? No. When I was building the Ocean Club, this is what I did while waiting for the kitchen. Now I I can consult sometimes I do private cooking as part of the Ocean Club and I’ll do some guest experience and guest builders.

But my role is to make sure that, these business operates and they run and they’re successful. And we have the right sort of tools to get these going as properly as possible.

What’s next on your plate? You must have a lot of big plans for the future. You’re clearly heavily immersed in the Ocean Club, but what do you see yourself doing five years from now?

It’s

the brand. My goal is to build a world class hospitality brand, that elevates it’s staff and that empowers it’s employees and that offers a hospitality that is built around love and respect and, a high end product with great food and great cooking and and who knows?

The Montauk project, is a big one, and it’s tied to a big brand. Unfortunately, I can’t say it yet, but they have a few different locations. And, this is the start of the Ocean Club. We have good partners. I have a partnership with Edmingston. I have a partnership with Feadship. We have a partnership with Wumco on the island.

And, we plan to Go to Montauk, make it successful get the ball rolling. And then hopefully there’s a few more ocean clubs down the road and not a hundred percent sure where they are, but we will see as time goes on, but, elevated hospitality brand with a lot of love and intention behind it.

That’s the goal.

You were to give some advice to a young cook, maybe going back to when you were 20 or 22 years old, and someone might be working in an independent restaurant, or maybe they’re working in a national chain here in America. Maybe it’s an olive garden and they’re just cooking and they’re on the line every night.

It’s but they want to do more. They want to go farther. They want to work for some illustrious chefs. It’s like, how do they set themselves apart? What’s your advice now, remembering what it was like being a young person with dreams and goals and ambitions?

First of all, make sure that you have a dream and a goal and an ambition.

I have this amazing, I have this amazing quote, and it’s in order for us to be successful, we have to involve successes, and success is the progressive realization of a dream. So in order for us to be successful, we need to have a dream. So it’s like, what is your dream?

And if you can pinpoint that, and then you take. The progressive realization, small steps that make you realize that you’re taking steps closer to this dream is what the goal is. So it’s have a dream, have a goal, focus on that, know that you’re going to get it, and then make sure that you don’t compromise.

Go to work every day with an intention to be your best, be present, learn your trade and don’t work for money. There’s so many people. We want, I want more money, I want this, I want that. Don’t worry about the money. If you focus on the education, focus on getting the groundwork, delivering that foundation and making sure that you know what you’re doing and that you build a love for your craft.

The man who loves walking will walk further than the man who likes the destination. So build that foundation and know where you’re going and then just enjoy the ride. Life is, life is about the journey. It’s not about the destination. It’s just enjoy the journey.

That’s the

reward. Chef, I’ve really enjoyed talking to you today, Jarad. It’s been my pleasure having you

here. Thank you, Roger. My pleasure to be with you, sir. Very inspirational. .

We covered a lot of ground and I really, I personally have never taken any cooking classes. I used to love in my restaurants, I had wood fired pizzerias and steakhouse and sushi and all that kind of stuff, but I really loved getting in front of the brick oven, burning at 900 degrees and 15 pizzas in the oven at once and there’s hot spots and you’re constantly flipping the pies in the heat of battle and that to me was therapy, but that was the extent of my cooking in my Right now I can make a pretty mean caramelized scallops and risotto, but Other than that, not for people night after night.

So I definitely envy and admire you and chefs and just people that have a passion for delivering great food and great experiences. So thanks for being on the podcast.

This was a great experience. So I appreciate you as well, Roger. Thank you very much. Thanks

so much to our audience for tuning in.

That was the Restaurant Rockstars podcast. We can’t wait to see you again next time. Stay tuned and stay well.

People go to restaurants for lots of reasons, for fun, celebration, for family, for lifestyle. What the customer doesn’t know is the thousands of details it takes to run a great restaurant. This is a high risk, high fail business. It’s hard to find great staff. Costs are rising, and profits are disappearing.

It’s a treacherous road, and smart operators need a professional guide. I’m Roger. I’ve started many highly successful, high profit restaurants that I’ve now sold for millions of dollars. I’m passionate about helping other owners and managers not just succeed, but knock it out of the park. I created a game changing system, and it’s filled with everything 20 years running super profitable, super fun restaurants.

Everything from creating high profit menu items and cost controls, to staff training where your teams serve and sell, to marketing hooks, money maximizing tips, and efficiencies across your operation. What does this mean to you? More money to invest in your restaurant. To hire a management team. Time, freedom, and peace of mind.

You don’t just want to run a restaurant. You want to dominate your competition and create a lasting legacy. Join the Academy, and I’ll show you how it’s done.

Thanks for listening to the Restaurant Rockstars podcast. For lots of great resources, head over to restaurantrockstars. com. See you next time.

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