Before being one of the most influential Chefs in Portland, ME, Chef Rob Evans was following the family trade of being a electrician. The calling of the kitchen was just too loud. He would go on to work at Goose Cove Lodge, The Inn at Little Washington, and The French Laundry. Evans returned to Portland’s restaurant scene in 2000, when he and his wife, Nancy Pugh, took over Hugo’s. In 2009, Rob won the James Beard Award, “Best Chef in the Northeast.” In 2012, Rob and Nancy left Hugo’s to focus on Duckfat, which they had previously opened in 2005. Evans latest project is Duckfat Friteshack which opened in 2018
In this episode with Rob Evans, we discuss:
- How Evans got into the industry.
- Using the restaurant industry to explore, get experience, and clarity on what you want to spend the rest of your live doing.
- When traveling, exploring, and gaining experience, giving the restaurants you work for a minimum of 1 year of your time in exchange for the lessons.
- Treating every dish you serve or meal you cook as a job interview, because you never know who your future investor could be.
- As an owner, working through your upper management to maintain high standards of detail and overall culture.
- What Evans did to earn a letter of recommendation from The Inn at Little Washington's Patrick O'Connell to work at the French Laundry.
- From the sous chef to the dish washing, creating a culture where there is an equal amount of "giving a shit".
- The value and admitting your mistakes.
- Going into business with people who counter you well.
- Repacking gourmet or fine dining dishes to be more approachable when going from cooking for white collar to blue collar guests, Repacking gourmet or fine dining dishes to be more approachable.
- How Evans style of "no waste" came from his attempts to maximize profit so he could stay afloat during the early years.
- Having a genuine and generous approach to style of service.
- How taking risks has served Chef Evans.
- Finding the right people to take over your business.
- Creating a business that is less dependent on creativity and skill level and more depending on systems, standards doing one thing better than everyone else, over and over again.
- Using technology to streamline processes.
- leveraging the gestalt management style.
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- Which "it factor" habit, trait, or characteristic you believe most contributes to your success?
- What is your biggest weakness?
- Caring too much about what people think.
- What's one question you ask or thing you look for during an interview?
- Have you played organized sports.
- Look to see if they understand teamwork.
- What's a current challenge? How are you dealing with it?
- Getting his newest project on auto pilot.
- Share one code of conduct or behavior you teach your team.
- What is one uncommon standard of service you teach your staff?
- What's one book we must read to become a better person or restaurant owner?
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- If there was one tool or resource that you wish you had now -- or wish you had when you were getting started--to learn from others in the industry what would it be?
- What's the one thing you feel restaurateurs don't know well enough or do often enough?
- What's one piece of technology you've adopted within your four walls restaurant and how has it influence operations?
- Hand held POS.
- 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?
- Golden rule.
- take risks.
- Appreciate the moment.
Thanks for listening!
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Huge thanks to Chef Rob Evans for joining me for another awesome episode. Until next time!
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