Hailing from NJ, Karen Akunowicz started her career as a cook at the beloved Ten Tables restaurant in Jamaica Plain. She would go on to cook at Via Matta in Boston's Back Bay where she met restaurateur, and future business partner Christopher Myers. After living and cooking in Italy for a year, Akunowicz returned to Boston to continue working for the city's finest restaurants, including Meyers + Chang where she eventually become a partner. It was also at Myers + Chang that she become a three time James Beard Nominee for Best Chef Northeast. In 2018 she took the title James Beard, "Best Chef Northeast".Currently, Akunowicz is working on her first solo restaurant project, Fox and The Knife scheduled to open Winter 2019.
Favorite success quote or mantra:
"Second start on the left, straight on til' morning."
In this episode with Karen Akunowicz, we discuss:
- How Akunowicz got into the hospitality industry.
- Focusing on being helpful before being critical.
- Being open minded about the path you take in life; there are numerous ways to get anywhere in life.
- How it is not enough to do your job, you need to be immersed in your job to really excel.
- That if you're struggling or finding it difficult to get immersed in your work, you're not working at the right place.
- Why it is so important to admit when you don't know how to do something or when you don't know what something means. Its ok not to know. It is not ok to pretend to know.
- Letting what you want be known.
- What Akunowicz learned spending a year in Italy.
- How work ethic combined with a lack of ego or pretense are great attributes of a leader.
- The specifics that keep Akunowicz coming back to the restaurant industry.
- How you can't expect to get anything out of the world if you don't give anything to it.
- While it is important to give, you can't give all of yourself away. You need to put some of your energy back into yourself.
- Having business partners that have the same values and vision as you.
- How being in a business partnership is not much different than being in a marriage.
- Making sure you want the same things as your business partners.
- Staying focused on your vision.
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- Which "it factor" habit, trait, or characteristic you believe most contributes to your success?
- What is your biggest weakness?
- Order, and control.
- It can be hard for others to cope with her attention to detail and high standard.
- What's one question you ask or thing you look for during an interview?
- What's a current challenge? How are you dealing with it?
- Balancing everything that comes with opening a restaurant.
- Share one code of conduct or behavior you teach your team.
- What is one uncommon standard of service you teach your staff?
- Connecting with your guest.
- What's one book we must read to become a better person or restaurant owner?
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- What's the one thing you feel restaurateurs don't know well enough or do often enough?
- 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?
- Respect everyone
- Work Ethic
- Do it because you want to; not because you have to.
Thanks for listening!
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Huge thanks to Karen Akunowicz for joining me for another awesome episode. Until next time!
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