Women Wednesday: JW Marriott Executive Sous Chef

It’s our favorite Wednesday of the month where we get to celebrate a passionate, dedicated, and powerful woman! Today we are sharing an interview with Laura, an Executive Sous Chef at JW Marriott in Minneapolis. We have had the pleasure of meeting Laura and tasting her culinary experiences, and it is incredible! With her incredibly busy schedule, Laura still finds time to focus on fitness and travel. See below the tips she is sharing with us!

Tell us about your career and current job:

Executive Sous Chef, work at JW Marriott Minneapolis, oversee 20,000 sq ft of meeting and event space, one 3 meal a day restaurant, 2 bars, executive lounge. I manage over 52 associates in our department as well as oversee 4 Jr Managers. I am responsible for menu planning, ordering, and execution, restaurant business daily, staff needs and demands, and communicating with 9 other departments within the hotel.

When you are not working, what do you do on your free time?

I love being healthy and focus on fitness and eating right as much as possible. Zumba and Dance are my top two favorite ways to burn calories. I love photography especially food photography, adventuring and traveling to new places, dining in new restaurants and tasting new foods 

How did you find a way to balance your passion for cooking and food with a healthy fitness lifestyle?

I found beachbody over a year ago and built an amazing friendship and relationship with my coach. She helped me focus in on the importance of nutrition and what we eat and how that directly effects our moods, the way we feel, and effects on our body.

It all began with committing 21 days to the fitness program 21 Day fix as well as the portion control nutrition plan. I saw great results just from those 3 wks of commitment and chose to turn that into a healthy lifestyle that I have now further coached others in how to develop a healthy lifestyle. Taking some time for me and making the time to work out as well as eat healthy in a rather high stressed environment working long hours as been extremely challenging and probably why I have put that focus on me sooner. It’s truly a daily decision to make the choice to eat right and get your workout in, but the results and way I feel is beyond rewarding!

Where do you want to be in five years?

I have a lot of personal goals revolved around coaching others to eat healthy and understand nutrition as well as be an executive Chef with Marriott and travel.

What would be an advice you’d give to those that want to be a chef or work in the hospitality industry.

Start and continue with passion. If you have the passion and love for food and the art of cooking you will be successful. Challenge yourself, continuously read and stay up on trends, dine out often to taste and experience other people’s food. Be committed, it is a very fast paced environment, with often a lot of stress and demands put on you daily. Make sure it is 100% what you want to do and be willing to work for it

Tell us about the most challenging experience in the kitchen and how you overcame it.

Learning how to work with multiple cocky personalities and addressing them in a way that will continue to make the productive and enjoy their job.

If your friend tells you they are coming over for dinner and you haven’t prepared anything, what is your go to quick recipe?

Mexican-I LOVE tacos and quesadillas and they are always ingredients I have in the house, are simple to make, and delicious!!

What would be your advice for women that feel that they are overpowered by men in the restaurant environment? How do you overcome that?

Be strong and don’t show weakness, they eat that up in a second! Develop confidence through watching, learning, reading, researching!

If you have the passion and skills, you will be get the respect and if you don’t, don’t waste your time with it and just move on from the negativity – it does and will happen.

Working in a restaurant, particularly running a kitchen is very stressful. How do you keep calm during chaos?

At the end of the day it’s not worth it, it is only food! The more worked up the less likely you are to make the right decision. Through experiences and observing my leaders I just focus on the situation at hand and play out the best possible scenario or way to solve it.

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