Home Grown Chefs
Since we’ve been doing food tours around the Cincinnati area, we’ve realized how fluid the restaurant industry is. It’s not uncommon for a server to work the lunch shift at one restaurant and then be behind another bar by the late shift. Or someone who has been doing a bang-up job at the host station disappears only to resurface in management at another venue.
Chefs and line cooks move around also, usually advancing their careers one restaurant at a time. In the last twenty-five years, many of our local chefs, cooks, and bartenders trained under Jean-Robert de Cavel. Two of our favorites, Jeremy and Bridgett Lieb, started under Jean-Robert’s tutelage at the Maisonette, left town to pursue their careers, and then returned to Cincinnati to open their own Sacred Beast restaurant. A path others have followed as well.
However, in Cincinnati, it’s not necessary to travel the world to advance in the restaurant industry. For example, Chef Ethan Greene was the sous chef at Abigail Street. Chef/owner Dan Wright recognized his talent and moved him right up the street to the position of Head Chef at his newest venture Forty Thieves. Ethan earned the position through hard work under the guidance of Chef Wright and now has the freedom to develop his skills by experimenting with casual Mediterranean street food in a whole new setting.
Apprenticeship under a well-known chef is not the only way to advance in the restaurant industry. Another program to develop the workforce is in place at Social OTR near Findlay Market. In partnership with CityLink Center, Social OTR is a culinary training restaurant, open to the public, at 1819 Elm Street. Classroom instruction at CityLink in both soft skills and culinary skills leads students to positions at Social OTR in the back of the house. At the non-profit restaurant, students spend a 3-month internship working with professional staff to further develop their skills. At the conclusion of training, students are placed into local jobs with the experience needed to continue moving forward in the restaurant industry.
The reputation of Cincinnati as a culinary destination is growing. As we continue to add more restaurants and bars, the need for a qualified workforce becomes more critical. Our region is smart to develop a pipeline to continue to produce award-winning talent in our restaurant industry.