Reinventing Yourself & Finding Success (NYC)
Are you an established restaurant professional looking to refine your identity, or an emerging chef carving out your niche within a hugely competitive marketplace? For many restaurant professionals, switching your creative direction during your career is common. How do you successfully switch from pastry to culinary or fine dining to casual? How do you move from marketing back to cooking?
Join Culintro as we discuss the topic of Reinventing Yourself & Finding Success. Hear stories and get advice from Georgette Farkas, owner/operator of the soon to open Rotisserie Georgette, Alex Stupak, Chef/Owner of the Empellon Restaurant Group, & Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow of the Meatball Shop. The conversation will be moderated by Anne McBride, director of the Experimental Cuisine Collective at New York University, and culinary program and editorial director for the Strategic Initiatives Group at the Culinary Institute of America.
Date: Tuesday, March 12th
Time: Cocktails & Networking 6-7pm; Panel 7-8pm
Thank you to our partners:
Anne E. McBride is the director of the Experimental Cuisine Collective at New York University, where she is also pursuing a PhD in food studies, and culinary program and editorial director for the Strategic Initiatives Group at the Culinary Institute of America. She has co-authored four books with culinary professionals, including Chocolate Epiphany with François Payard and the recently released Les Petits Macarons with Kathryn Gordon.
Georgette Farkas is the founder and General Manager of Rôtisserie Georgette, the new restaurant opening in Fall 2013. She’s creating the rotisserie on the premise that good cooking with fine ingredients and caring service are best paired with comfort and a welcoming spirit, not to mention what Georgette calls “elegance without attitude”. The restaurant will embody her own personal take on relaxed refinement and the conviction that enjoying a delicious roast chicken with wonderful fresh vegetables can be a soul satisfying pleasure.
This native New Yorker who’s enjoyed an international career is a restaurant professional with over 20 years in the field. She began in the kitchens of some of the world's great Chefs, working as a cook from age 16. Georgette gained hands-on culinary experience at Roger Vergé’s Moulin de Mougins, Alain Ducasse’s Louis XV in Monte Carlo and with Daniel Boulud while he was executive Chef at New York’s Hotel Plaza Athenée. Georgette later returned to work for Daniel serving as his Public Relations and Marketing Director from 1995 to 2012. During her 17 year tenure she was one of a small group of executives who helped to build Boulud’s Dinex Group to 14 venues. Above all, she is grateful to Daniel and his team for their camaraderie and the invaluable years she spent learning by their side.
While entrepreneurial spirit is woven in to her DNA (her family is known for having created Alexander’s department stores), Georgette learned her trade hands-on through the discipline of various operational positions at fine hotels and restaurants. Upon graduating Harvard College with a degree in European history, Georgette went on to attend the Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne. Early on she trained in establishments including the Hotel Richmond in Geneva, Hotel de Crillon in Paris, Blake's Hotel in London and later with night club impresario Régine at the Hotel Marignan in Paris. Her first exposure to culinary communications came as assistant producer for Chef Pierre Franey’s 26-episode PBS "Cooking in France" television series.
Today she is working to translate the lessons she’s learned across the world of hospitality to delivering pleasure to her guests at Rôtisserie Georgette.
Born April 21, 1980 in Leominster Massachusetts. Alex Stupak made his first appearance in a professional kitchen (as a prep cook) at the age of twelve having convinced the restaurant’s owner he was of legal age.Alex took full advantage of his high school’s unique Culinary Arts program and also joined VICA, the Vocational Industrial Clubs of America, and quickly started to participate in culinary competitions, eventually competing at the national level during his senior year. He swept the competition and won a full scholarship to the Culinary Institute of America, securing a culinary degree and an externship at Boston’s prestigious Clio Restaurant. It was here that Alex was given an opportunity to work the pastry station, part of a mandatory rotation for all cooks, and to his surprise enjoyed the work, although at the time he had no intention of pursuing it further.After graduation from the CIA Alex moved to Chicago where he became the tournant at Tru. Within fourteen months he was offered the position of sous chef at The Federalist in Boston but he quickly found himself dissatisfied with the lack of creative control the position gave him and began to plan an alternate path. In a twist of fate a freshly fired pastry chef gave Alex the opportunity he needed to take control of his own department.Fascinated by innovation and technique and seeking an environment that supported his vision, Alex returned to Clio to become the restaurant’s first pastry chef. Boston Magazine awarded him the title of “Best Pastry Chef” in 2003, and in the following year, Food & Wine Magazine hailed him as “a visionary”.
In 2005, Chef Grant Achatz asked Alex to be the pastry chef at Alinea. The restaurant’s opening was a highly anticipated event in the restaurant industry, galvanizing Alex to excel with his menu. He was asked to recreate his magic on-air, making appearances on The Today Show and The Discovery Channel. The Alinea cookbook includes several of Alex’s recipes.An invitation from Wylie Dufresne to take on the mantle of pastry chef at wd~50 fulfilled Alex’s combined ambitions to cook in New York and to work in an environment that fostered his creative vision; he joined the team at wd~50 in August of 2007. Chef Stupak was victorious on Iron Chef in 2008. Pastry Art & Design named Alex one of the “Top Ten Pastry Chefs in America” in October of 2008 and 2009 and shortly thereafter, Vogue’s food critic, Jeffrey Steingarten, deemed him “an unstoppable front of new ideas”.
During the entire time Alex worked at both Alinea and wd~50 he questioned the future of modernism in cuisine and his place within the movement. He came to the realization that what was once a new way of thinking had become another format to be mimicked. Alex decided the only logical progression for him was to push in a new direction by answering a simple question, “What do you love to eat the most?” After answering that question Alex spent the majority his 4 years in New York City working to create the restaurant he was dreaming of rather than the one he was groomed for. In March of 2010 he opened Empellón Taqueria to force himself out of what had become a comfortable situation to embrace the Mexican system of cooking. Not a year later he opened Empellón Cocina -- a second Mexican venture, where he continues to utilize the cuisine as inspiration for creativity. Standing behind the philosophy that both defines and is defined by Empellón, Alex will keep pushing himself and his team.
Daniel started his cooking career at age 15 at Le Bernardin in New York City. Working after school and on weekends and holidays, Daniel remained there for 4 years until, at the suggestion of Chef Eric Ripert, he attended the Culinary Institute of America with a full scholarship from the James Beard Foundation. Prior to graduation, Daniel accepted a position at the soon-to-open Paladin in New York City for Chef Jean Louis Paladin, working alongside such culinary notables as Wylie Dufresne and Sam Mason. Six months later Jean Louis asked Daniel if he would be willing to move to Las Vegas, NV, to fill a vacancy at his flagship restaurant Napa in the Rio Hotel. Accepting the offer, Daniel began what would ultimately become a 10-year culinary journey through some of Los Angeles, and San Francisco’s finest restaurants including The Campton Place, The Fifth Floor, Aqua and Jardinière.
In 2004 Daniel began his first management job as chef of the California organic bistro, Axe, in Venice, Los Angeles. After 1 year at Axe, Daniel was offered and accepted the position of executive chef at the Inn of the Seventh Ray, a 250-seat restaurant in the Topanga hills known for its romantic outdoor setting and lavish weddings. Daniel remained at the Inn until 2007 when he moved to San Francisco to open SPQR, a rustic Roman Osteria, as co-owner and executive chef. Within 3 months of opening SPQR received 3½ out of 4 stars from Michael Bauer in The San Francisco Chronicle, a rating usually reserved for far fancier restaurants.
In 2008, Holzman and three partners founded KB treats LLC, an ice cream novelty company. KB’s first product, QB’s (crispy rice and marshmallow treats filled with ice cream), were an immediate success and can be found in markets nationwide, including Whole Foods, Giant and Stop and Shop.
Michael Chernow began his professional restaurant career in 1996 behind the bar of the popular nightclub, Life, on Bleecker Street in New York City. Learning from the ground up, Michael quickly worked his way through the ranks becoming the youngest bartender on staff. After 2 years working at both Life in New York and its East Hampton sister club, The Tavern, Michael signed on to open Woo Lae Oak on Mercer St. in New York City. In 2001 Michael made the move to Los Angeles where he worked at Woo Lae Oak’s original location on La Cienega Blvd. Returning to New York, he opened Punch and Judy, a wine bar on Clinton Street. In 2002 Frank Prizanzano offered Michael a position behind the bar of his eponymous flagship restaurant Frank on Second Avenue.
For 7 years Michael managed the bar at Frank where he had a large, loyal following. In 2007 Michael enrolled in the French Culinary Institute (FCI), graduated with honors, and was awarded an Associate’s degree in both culinary arts and restaurant management in 2008.