Dalton Draper is a 2013 IFMA International Gold & Silver Plate Society internship stipend recipient. He attends Florida International University and is majoring in Hospitality Management. Find out what he had to say when we asked him a few questions about his foodservice stipend and future career.
What is your major & what made you decide on it?
I am currently enrolled in the Masters of Hospitality Management graduate program and I decided on this major due to my love the the culinary arts, and the life long learning culinary arts provides for me. Everyday I learn something new and exciting about cooking and that keeps my passion burning. I realized that in order to be a strong chef, one must learn about management of people, products, and time and these are the keys to the management program here at Florida International University.
How has your stipend enabled you to pursue a career in foodservice?
This stipend offers me an opportunity to continue my schooling and work as a teacher's assistant. As a teacher's assistant I am given the opportunity to hone my managerial skills and my culinary skills in a real world environment.
What was your first job in foodservice?
I started out washing dishes in a small family owned and operated Seafood Restaurant called High Tide Harry's in Orlando, Florida. There I learned my valuable lessons such as due diligence, confidence, and high tempo working. From there I was promoted to a cook III working the steam station and learned time management was crucial to success. These traits have been instilled in me and will never be forgotten.
What would you say is your "dream job" after you graduate?
My dream job would be a kitchen manager or sous chef for a well know chef such as Michael Symone or Paula Dean and learn even more of the tricks of the trade from one of the best in our industry.
Do you have a mentor? How have they helped you?
I work directly with Chef-Instructor Michael Moran who has been teaching for more than thirty years and who does a fantastic job of mentoring me and teaching the students. He is a very real chef who has worked everywhere from the World Trade Center kitchens to small fine dinning French restaurants in New York and truely inspired me to constantly strive for learning and betterment of myself. His body of knowledge is vast and he takes the time to make sure I glow and reach my potential.
What are some of the challenges students like you face in today's world of foodservice?
The hardest challenge is gaining the confidence to step out into the world and say I am ready. In the recent movie the Dark Knight, Michael Kaine asks Bruce Wayne, " Why do we fall down, master Wayne? To learn to pick ourselves back up." As a student for many years its very structured and safe. Even while working during my time in school, the jobs were never my first priority, school was, and now that i am taking my last semester its a daunting thought to realize that this is it. Time to spread my wings and fly, and if I fall I will learn to pick myself back up and try again.
What have you learned that you will apply to your career?
I have learned that to be a better manager I must first take care of my employees; they are the work force that makes my restaurant, company, and guests happy. If they are taken care of then the happy employee will make a happy guest. I have also learned that nothing makes up for good old fashioned elbow grease and that this industry requires lots of hard work and overtime to sell the experience and truely make the guest feel the hospitality. This industry has a standard of above and beyond, which means our benchmark is so high it pretty much has to be perfect.
What is your favorite meal?
My favorite meal is down home Bar-B-Q. Being a country boy I learned that nothing tastes better than grandma's biscuits and grandpa's smoked Bar-B-Q ribs, and the only way to wash it all down is with a big cold jug of SWEET iced tea brewed by the heat of the sun on a summer day. That is paradise to me and is how I model my food, simple food with bold flavors that mesh together to create a symphony.
About The IFMA Educational Foundation
The IFMA Educational Foundation promotes the next generation of foodservice leaders. The Foundation is committed to give qualified culinary, marketing or food science students support toward completion of education requirements. Over the years, we've accomplished our goal by providing scholarships, publications, educational programs, internships and stipends to accredited institutions and individuals enrolled in accredited institutions.
Do you want to support the next generation of foodservice by making a donation to IFMA's Educational Foundation? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.