Mike Ledesma, born to Filipino parents, grew up in New York and Annapolis, Maryland, and he intends to bring flavors from every place that has inspired his cooking, including Hawaii, West Virginia and Virginia.
His résumé includes Richmond Restaurant Group, Max's on Broad, Kabana and the Hard Shell, not to mention stints at the Greenbrier in West Virginia and restaurants in Hawaii.
Mike is set to open his first restaurant, Perch in just a few short weeks!
Favorite Success Quote or Mantra:
In this episode, we discuss:
- Mike's finance background
- Working in a job that wasn't feeding him- gave him a sense of longing for more after 10 years in industry.
- "There's more out there, I want to spend 10,000 hours of my working life doing what I'm passionate about."
- Training at culinary school under Chef Frank Leake, who was trained under Andre Soltner
- How Chef Leake built a foundation for Mike's culinary career
- Taught him respect and promptness, was recognized for his drive and set up with great opportunities.
- His transition into working after culinary school:
- Worked under Chef Roy Yamaguchi
- Learned valuable lessons from his Uncle Dennis, who owned a banquet hall, and how important it is to offer something that only you can, and "not to make the same mistakes he did."
- Using his financial background to evaluate risks of moving onto new restaurants and gaining new experiences.
- How Mike started marketing and fundraising:
- When he moved to Richmond, VA, he saw a massive opportunity to connect with people.
- Fundraised for Feed More and March of Dimes as well as various other charitable organizations in town.
- Went to Food Festivals and networked with potential investors (you never know where your next investor is, so don't pre-judge ANYONE!)
- Raised money by saying "yes" to everything and giving back. Tried various things until it stuck- "the Spaghetti Factor."
- Mike's time at restaurant Patina and how it influenced how he managed people:
- Pushed them to have more drive.
- Show them he cared by being there and working his ass off.
- Educated them without being condescending.
- The importance of attention to detail.
- “If you want to be something or do something, you have to be a lobbyist for yourself. I can take that energy and put it into my own stuff, make it more efficient, and I can enjoy it better. More better, mo’ betta,” he says, laughing.
- The importance of getting to know your guests:
- Mike's attention to detail about his guests is admirable. He truly pays attention and listens to their stories and interests.
- This helps create more of a personal, customized experience for guests.
- Takes notes so he remembers names, kids names/ interests and their menu preferences.
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?
- What do you want to do when you grow up? Looking for passion and drive.
What's a current challenge? How are you dealing with it?
- Finding the drive of staff- I want a team, not just a staff.
Share one code of conduct or behavior you teach your team.
- Excel in everything you do, be hospitable, work hard.
What is one uncommon standard of service you teach your staff?
- "Ho'okipa" You're always executing what you learn from the past- be genuine in your hospitality.
What's one book we must read to become a better person or restaurant owner?
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- Outliersby Malcolm Gladwell
- Culinary Artistry
- The E-Myth Masteryby Michael Gerber
- Soul of a Chefby Michael Rulman
Share an online resource or tool.
What's one piece of technology you've adopted in your restaurant and how has it influence operations?
- The lighting in my restaurant.
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?
- Give back to the community.
- Be a good father.
- Live life to the fullest!
Instagram: @perch_rva @mike_ledesma
Thanks for Listening!
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Huge thanks to Mike Ledesma for joining me for another awesome episode. Until next time!
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