A native of the garden state of New Jersey, Joe was born into a family of chefs, and took up the craft at an early age. Before moving to Virginia Sparatta spent approximately 10 years working in some of NJ and NY's finest kitchens. Once In VA Sparatta helped restaurateurs Paul Keevil, Chef Jason Alley & Michele Jones in opening their acclaimed Pasture. in 2012 Sparatta Broke off on his own to open Heritage restaurant, which was followed by Sparatta's 2nd restaurant, Southbound a few years later. Accolades and awards have been rolling in for both restaurants every since.
Favorite Success Quote or Mantra:
"Focus on making people happy."
In this episode, we discuss:
- It was not until he began working at The Ryland Inn under Chef Craig Shelton that he truly found his passion.
- His mentor, Craig taught him the importance of the science in cooking- had him and the staff read about the science in cooking, why things happen the way they do, why food reacts the way they do, and why things taste the way they do.
- What Joe really learned is how to survive, and how to get through a shift where the stress and stakes were super high.
- Joe received additional training with Chefs David Bouley, Eric Ripert, and Michael Laiskonis in New York City before joining Chef Scott Anderson to open elements in Princeton, NJ.
- While Sous Chef and Pastry Chef at elements, Joe managed a team that received top ratings from local and New York press, garnered publication in Art Culinaire, and earned a spot in the top 20 “most important restaurants” in America by the Opinionated About Dining Guide.
- The growth that happened in his career with his move from NY area to Richmond, VA.
- Putting in a massive amount of time in previous restaurants working for free or minimum wage to gain experience so that he was sought out when he moved to Virginia.
- The 10,000 hour rule! Become a master of your craft.
- The opportunity to open a new restaurant in Richmond, and how he did it on a tight budget.
- Using the people in his life who knew what they were doing to save a lot of money on work in Heritage restaurant.
- The importance of brightening up and re-naming the restaurant.
- The importance of investing in your mental health.
- Joe's struggle with alcohol as a coping mechanism during an incredibly stressful year of opening a restaurant, buying a house and having his first child.
- His involvement in the community withBen's Friends.
- How much more present and focused he is since being sober.
Which "it factor" habit, trait, or characteristic you believe most contributes to your success?
What is your biggest weakness?
What's one question you ask or thing you look for during an interview?
- Good eye contact and a good hand shake.
What's a current challenge? How are you dealing with it?
- Having enough time for my family. I am trying to find great people that I can trust so I can be able to take the time when I need it.
Share one code of conduct or behavior you teach your team.
- Try to act with integrity. Act and treat people the way that you would like to be treated. Be respectful.
What is one uncommon standard of service you teach your staff?
- Consistency of service. And how we try to treat people as if they are family members. We want them to feel at home, and feel a level of comfort that is lost in this industry sometimes.
What's one book we must read to become a better person or restaurant owner?
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- Setting the Tableby Danny Meyer
- Lessons in Excellenceby Charlie Trotter
Share an online resource or tool.
- Ideas in Food
What's one piece of technology you've adopted in your restaurant and how has it influence operations?
- Google Drive- it has been so easy to share with folders, shareable documents.
If you got the news that you'd be leaving this world tomorrow and all memories of you, your work, and your restaurants would be lost with your departure with the exception of 3 pieces of wisdom you could leave behind for the good of humanity, what would they be?
- It's not about you.
- It's about the guest.
- Try to make it nice.
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If you are looking for help with substance abuse or addiction, and want to join Ben's Friends, please visit: Ben's Friends
Ben’s Friends is the food and beverage industry support group offering hope, fellowship, and a path forward to professionals who struggle with substance abuse and addiction.
Thanks for Listening!
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Huge thanks to Joe Sparatta for joining me for another awesome episode. Until next time!
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