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Keynote & Training Topics
Chef Patrick Mitchell CEC, AAC, FWMCS and USA National Chef of the Year 2016
23 Feb 2020 12:00:00 Marshie
My name is Marshie Morgan.
Thank you for taking time out and sharing your story. Let's get you introduced to everyone, shall we?
Marshie: Name, title and any letters behind your name.
Chef: Patrick Mitchell CEC, AAC, FWMCS
Executive Chef/Culinary Advisor for Ben E Keith Foods
Marshie: Where are you from?
Chef: I grew up in an Air Force family, so we lived in many states & countries when I was younger. We ended up in New Jersey just across from Philadelphia when my father retired from the Air Force. It was from there, that I left home to go to school.
Marshie: Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Chef: I went off to school at the Culinary Institute of America in 1979. Upon graduation, I accepted a job in New Orleans as Assistant Garde Manger at the Royal Orleans Hotel. I packed everything I owned in my car and headed south. I had about $250.00 in my pocket, a car that was running on a prayer and 4 free nights at the hotel until I needed to find a place to stay.
Fast forward 40 years, I look back and realize there had to be no doubt in my mind that I would succeed. I believe others see that determination in a person and want to help those that are determined. Many people helped me along the way which is why I believe so strongly in helping others.
Marshie: Why did you decide to become a chef besides the obvious you love to cook?
Chef: It was probably the rush of the kitchen that first captivated me. So much happening all at the same time, so many techniques and skills needed to maintain and then when it is over for the night, the satisfaction that you made it through. I have long said that we are “Adrenaline
Junkies” in this business.
I think it is also the immediate payoff of knowing how your work is received. You prepare a meal for someone, you know right away if they liked it or not.
Marshie: Where do you work, or do you own your own business? Name of business.
Chef: I work for Ben E Keith Foods as a Culinary Advisor for our customers. Kind of like a consultant for them.
Marshie: How long have you been a dedicated chef?
Chef: I have been in the industry since 1975 and got my first Executive Chefs job in 1992.
Marshie: Who is your favorite chef, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
Chef: There are a couple chefs I like to follow and see what they are doing. Thomas Keller, Daniel
Humm and Eric Repert
Marshie: How do you deal with the day in day out stress?
Chef: You need to have something more than just work in your life. For me it was activities like Golf or fishing where I could immerse myself into something other than the pressures of the job. Maybe for others it’s things like music (either playing or listening) or movies. Different things based on the amount of time available.
Marshie: How do you balance your work life with your personal life?
Chef: It is a completely different story in my current job but when I was running kitchens, I needed to decide what was important to me and find the time to do it. You will always make time for what is important!
Marshie: What are the biggest accomplishments up to this point in your career?
Chef: I have had some tremendous opportunities in my career and am blessed to continue to chase
I think winning the USA Chef of the Year in 2016 for the ACF would have to rank up there pretty high.
I had won COY for the State of Texas in 2015 then went on to Regional in early 2016 before taking
National later that year.
Winning that made me the USA candidate for the Global Chefs
Challenge in 2018.
After a series of qualifiers, the top 20 countries, out of a field of 100, sent their representatives to the WACS Global conference in Kuala Lumpur. We each had one apprentice we brought with us to cook with. Juan Guevarra & I finished in 8th place overall.
Marshie: What are three nuggets of wisdom you would share to new aspiring chefs?
1. Lose the ego! As a chef, you are nothing without the team around you (This includes cooks, dishwashers, wait staff, sales teams and even vendors). Try to be successful without any one of those supporting you! Treat them with respect and put them first. You will be amazed how they will elevate you to heights you never thought possible!
2. Have a good work ethic! Be on time and stay focused – Attention to Detail!
3. Show respect & have good ethics. Respect the industry and those that came before you. Listen to what they have to say, understand it, then put your own spin on it. You can’t move forward until you understand the past and how we got to today!
Marshie: What is your favorite thing to eat at home?
Chef: What ever Linda, my wife, cooks for dinner! I love to cook all kinds of food and now that I am not cooking in a professional kitchen every day, I really have fun making all kinds of things. But when Linda cooks dinner, I am always appreciative and know that she made it for me/us to share. She is a great cook, so it isn’t that hard to say but even when something new doesn’t turn out quite right I let her know how good it tastes. 38 years of marriage makes you understand what’s really important!
Marshie: If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be and why?
Chef: I think I would change the notion that people in the industry need to be like “indentured servants”! This is a stressful job, always trying to please people with something that is very subjective. Add in the heat, noise & the pressure of a full dining room where everyone thinks they are the only table. People working in this kind of environment, need time off to recharge their batteries. When they don’t get that time off, you see drug & alcohol abuse, suicide and other evils of society manifest themselves in the workers.
Marshie: What is your number one safety tip?
Chef: Non-slip shoes!
Marshie: Imagine a future where you no longer cook. What would you do?
Chef: I think I would live in the mountains and fly fish most of my days. Maybe even open a guide service and help people realize their dreams of that “perfect fly fishing trip”!
Marshie: Do you have a Facebook page, social media outlet or website where readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Chef: chefpdmitchell on Instagram
facebook account: Patrick Mitchell
Marshie: What exciting news do you want to share with the readers about you or your establishment? (New location, menu, specials, events, etc…)
Chef: Ben E Keith Foods is a great company who believes in their people! They also believe that we should be partners in our customers success and do everything we can to ensure their success. We are growing and growing! We just opened 2 new warehouses & have 2 more under construction in markets where we outgrew the old ones. The largest branch is adding on about 30% more space to our existing warehouse here in Fort Worth because we are out of space! What a good problem to have!
Marshie: Are there any charities you support and why are they important to you?
Chef: Ben E Keith supports Folds of Honor in a big way as a company. I am looking for a way that the team I compete with can do a fund raiser for them. Folds of Honor is a great organization supporting families of Fallen Soldiers and Wounded Warriors.
Personally as a chef I always feel the calling to help feed those in need and have had the opportunity to work with Mercy Chefs on 2 occasions. When the tornado went through Garland & Roulette, just east of Dallas on Dec. 26, 2015, I went out and cooked with Mercy Chefs Feeding Body and Soul. We prepared meals for people that were trying to pick up the pieces of their lives, first responders and volunteers. In the Chef community you never know who you will run into at any event. My good friend Chef Morris Salerno was there in Roulette when I arrived so we got to cook together.
Again after Hurricane Harvey hit the gulf coast with devastating floods in August 2017, I drove down to Houston and cooked with Mercy Chefs again. It just tugs at your heart strings when you see people that have lost everything and have no means to nourish themselves. The physical nourishment is one thing they definitely need but when you see how thankful they are, you realize the emotional connection is just as important. Knowing there are people that are there to support them. Juan Guevarra, the apprentice I cooked with at National 2016 and Global Competition in 2018, rode down with me to Houston and we cooked thousands of meals! There were countless other chefs that we knew from years with the Texas Chefs Association.
I want to personally say thanks for all you do Folds of Honor and Mercy Chefs! Your organizations and the chefs which participate truly make a difference in the lives they serve.
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