My first experience in the food and beverage industry was at 12 years old as a bus boy in a fine dining restaurant. Like many this was not a planned career path but a way to make money during school that turned from a part-time job into a passion and then a life-long career.
I have worked my way up and have worked in almost all positions FOH and BOH. In my professional career I have held the position of Executive Chef, food and beverage manger and senior manager of hospitality services for the student’s council at Western. At home I am a father to 4 beautiful girls ranging in age from 18 months to 16 years old and have been married to my beautiful wife Samantha for 10 years.
In 2001 I began working for the USC at Western University and although I had years of management experience I struggled to deal with the political and operational differences that I was used to in the corporate world. One of my first professional development opportunities was with CHMA in 2002, and it was so great to see that I was not alone in my struggles and to be able to get so much good advice and professional growth opportunities.
Over the years I have been able to meet so many great people and managers because of CHMA and am so honoured to be the Chair. This role is the best of both worlds as I am able to continue to benefit from the CHMA network and in addition I am able to pass on what I have learned and improve the learning opportunities for our members.
I count myself lucky for having stumbled into the Campus Hospitality life. I had almost completely escaped a long history in the hospitality industry and was selling real estate when this opportunity enticed me back! Almost immediately, I knew my biggest challenge (and best reward) would be the family ties I would build with my Student Staff. My 10 year old daughter has generously given up her status as only child – to 50 grown adults that refuse to stop calling me Mom. P.S. I’m too damn young to be their Mom!!!
I’ve hired and fired, I’ve cooked and cleaned; I’ve planned menus and planned events; I’ve sampled chicken fingers until I grew feathers and sampled beer until… well… It’s never the same 2 days in a row around here and that’s what makes this my dream job!
As for CHMA, I kinda stumbled into this organization too! In the past 4 years there is no way I would have lead us to achieve the successes we have around here without the support of my friends from across the country. Our growth plans are often the direct result of CHMA National Conference sessions, and our off the wall fun is almost always inspired by a late night conversation with a CHMA member. The memories and friends, connections and learning opportunities that this organization has provided me are priceless! #somuchlearning
I’m not a chef. I’m a blender surgeon. I’m an amateur plumber. I fix oven door handles. I am a renegade chemist. I’m a shoddy social worker. I’m a big brother. I’m a collector of half-drank coffee cups. I’m a disposal mechanism for plating mistakes. I’m the MacGuyver of leftovers. I’m a soup sorcerer. I find things in the fridge that we “definitely don’t have any more of”. I can’t remember why I came around the damn corner, but I can re-call the last 43 chits. I count my life in produce orders. I plan my weeks around sampling meetings and office time. I never answer my phone. I never call in sick.
I come by my passion for this industry honestly – I’ve spent more than half of my life in it. I’ve done everything from casual fine dining to greasy spoons, from Guerilla catering to breakfast joints, and everything in between. My work ethic and open-minded approach was forged from a young age by my late father, and I bring an optimistic approach with me as often as possible. I love working for the Sheridan Student Union. Going in to my 5th school year, I feel that we’ve gotten better and better at what we do, and the students are responding in overwhelming ways.
My time spent in the CHMA has been equally rewarding. We have an incredibly unique advantage over the rest of the industry, meeting regularly and supporting each other. Members of this organization have become my sounding board, my confidants, and my dear friends. Not many people understand the challenges that this specific sector of the industry can pose, but we are lucky to have a nationwide cohort who understand it intimately!
I really don’t know what other career path I could have chosen in life. What I do every day is the only thing that makes sense. I hope everyone else is that fulfilled in their careers – it’s a really comfortable place to be.
I started in hospitality in 2004 as a student needing a part time job to get by. The part time security gig turned into summer employment, bartending, bar management to student services manager.
This roller coaster ride has been an amazing experience that I never would have thought I could be a part of. The postsecondary hospitality business is in a world of its own.
Every day is completely different than the last. It’s a fast paced environment that always makes you wonder, “what could possibly happen next?”
That’s why I was very happy to be introduced to CHMA in 2009 from fellow coworkers. Since joining, CHMA has been an amazing asset to me in understanding the ever changing industry.
We are a group of full time employees in a rotating world of student government and part time employees. Having a sounding board of professionals and mentors who are in the same business, regional symposiums and our yearly National Conferences has been an educational experience I know I could not have found anywhere else.
Any question you have or bump in the road has been something that one of our members has also been through. Since being a member of CHMA, I have learned a great deal, made wonderful friendships and memories and am always excited for the next opportunity to get together and learn more!