Mentors are important for all of us. In the culinary world, there is no more important person in our lives than that chef that becomes our mentor. I was so lucky and grateful to have mine- Chef Benjamin Lambert. He is an artist, funny, strict, humble, and liked the band Gorillaz. I also liked Gorillaz, and knowing that he did made me comfortable enough to ask him questions.
When I first walked into Nora, I was a teenager and I walked in with my Father. My dad was known in the community, and I used his connections to land my first restaurant job. I remember Chef Ben and the way he looked at me. He crossed his arms across his chest and told me I could go and help peel vegetables. Months later I was working every day of the week, helping plate banquets, making sauces, making pastries, and earning my first paychecks. I went to culinary school one month after I graduated high school. I was eager to get to New York and dive into this world I was so passionate about. Chef Ben gave me all his books with his notes on each class. He has been there throughout my career to advise me, encourage me, and make me feel accompanied in this journey.
Being a chef can be a lonely life. Being a business owner is even lonelier. I’m committed to professionalism and the pursuit of growth. I don’t believe anything is ever perfect, but I do believe we should always strive to be our greatest selves. That’s what I felt we were doing at Straw Stick & Brick Delicatessen.
I had the best mentor during my business planning phase, Jean Morris. She was my Business Planning professor at The Culinary Institute of America. She was there to encourage me and advise me from the beginning until the end. It was incredible to have her as such an amazing teacher at the CIA and I’m eternally grateful to her for helping me plan such an intricate business. My business plan was my most important tool, and one of the biggest reasons we grew and were able to adapt with demand.
I’ve learned something through all my unique experiences and the many times that I’ve had to force myself to stay motivated even when I wanted to quit. It hasn’t been easy for me to push forward. I know for a fact that we never get anywhere alone. The reason that we are entrepreneurs is because we believe that we can achieve something as an organization, an entity, something bigger than ourselves. We achieve those goals by helping others, as they help us.
I’ve put together this website with the goal to provide mentors to those that need them. All these mentors are professionals that I trust, respect, and admire. Many times, they lend me advice and I help them in any way I can. I hope you use this platform to your advantage and that it helps you achieve your goals. I really do believe that you can achieve anything. Anyone can. All that we need is motivation and to surround ourselves with people that we can admire, trust, and learn from.