What does Ford Fry love most about his job?

I like the cooking aspect, I like coming up with specials, I like running the menu, but what I get more excited about now is watching a vision play out how it was intended to. I meet with the designers and write the menus and come up with the idea of how the restaurant should translate to guests. Then when it opens, I read blogs and reviews that say the language that I intended, and that’s really cool and rewarding for me. That’s half of it.

The other half is having the ability to turn it up with a local chef who is super talented. He may not have everything he needs to go out there and start his own restaurant, get his own place or get the credit for what he’s really doing, but I love putting someone in that position and watching him succeed. It’s that development side — building people’s careers. I think where it really hit me hard was in Santa Barbara, when I was an executive chef and we had a company picnic where my cooks, sous chefs and everybody brought their wives and kids. Everyone was out there. It was really interesting because day-to-day, you’re in this stressful environment. But when I start seeing their wives and kids, I really start recognizing them as people, not tools. It really excited me and made me think that how I treat this person at work, he’s going to carry it home. Not only that, I’m also responsible for his well being and developing him. I feel like I’m held accountable, that it’s my job to see him through and see him move forward. That’s also really rewarding as well.

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