Bryan Tishmack is a 2018 IFMA Education Foundation scholarship recipient. He attends Purdue University and is majoring in Hospitality and Tourism Management. Find out what he had to say when we asked him a few questions about his foodservice scholarship and future career.
What is your major & what made you decide on it?
I am a Hospitality and Tourism Management major, what I like to call a "business major" that really loves to have a good time. I was drawn to hospitality for its relationship with my own passion, food and cooking; this major allows me to explore those passions in a professional way and helped develop my understanding of how to manage and run the operations of a restaurant or other food service venue. I love to travel and to work hard, two things made feasible by my degree; as I like to say, everyone needs to eat, and we can be there to provide that.
How has your scholarship enabled you to pursue a career in foodservice?
The IFMA education foundation's incredible scholarship makes the burden of higher education that much less difficult. Once graduated, having even a little more money in the bank can make career decisions easier to justify, particularly in an industry where a step forward in your career does not always imply a pay raise. With this scholarship, decisions like those become significantly easier.
What was your first job in foodservice?
I worked as a part-time baker for a local restaurant. It was a bit eye-opening for me, learning to work in a commercial kitchen. It was no longer enough to just like cooking as a hobby, I had to develop a whole new set of skills to make myself useful in this new environment.
What would you say is your "dream job" after you graduate?
I would love to stay in the kitchen after I graduate, hopefully someday in a management capacity as a head chef, but the road to that position is not one you can take at high speeds. Ideally, I would like to see a lot of different positions during my career, and I keep a small "bucket list" of jobs that seem interesting and that I would like to work someday.
What have you learned that you will apply to a career in foodservice?
People are our product, and relationships are what make our industry function. We need to satisfy our guests foremost of all, but it's not necessarily our investors and suppliers that come next in the line of people we need to make happy. I've learned that it's the employees that can make or break a successful operation, and it's our responsibility as managers to take care of them. I've been fortunate to find myself in the employ of a boss that values his employees more than most, and to work for another chef that routinely checks in on the well-being of all his line cooks. Those examples are something I hope to find and replicate in the remainder of my career.
What are some of the challenges students like you face in today's world of foodservice?
We have been lucky to become part of an industry that is seeing an economic resurgence, with a more diverse market of food-savvy individuals willing to go out to eat more often and try new things. But this competitive rush to capitalize on the "foodies" of the new generation has made our margins and profits thinner than ever. As the new face of the industry, we are challenged to balance our willingness and ability to take risks and innovate with the need to play it safe and understand the full ramifications of our business decisions. We must not only be able to give great service, we must also be literate with the financials of our business, and that takes a very special person to have both abilities. I'm proud to say many of my peers at Purdue are more than capable to rise to meet those challenges.
Do you have mentor? How have they helped you?
My first Chef and instructor at Purdue, Ambarish Lulay, has acted as a mentor to me and many of the young people who have been fortunate to work in the same kitchen as him. His guidance has helped me in countless ways, from teaching me to be a better cook and all-around better person, to helping me develop a better palate, and to peppering every conversation with culinary knowledge accrued from his life in the kitchen. If there was one conversation that helped me the most, it was when he convinced me to switch to a Hospitality and Tourism Management major. Of course, he never meant to convince me to make the switch, quite the opposite; it was his persistence in helping me see all the possible shortcomings and difficulties of a life in restaurants that solidified my decision. Instead of letting me blindly walk into a decision that I might've regretted, he made sure I was well-informed, then provided unceasing support once I made up my mind.
What is your favorite meal?
My favorite meal is the one I've never had before. I love to try new things and to explore new ingredients, to find interesting flavors and combinations I might not have known or expected. It's hard not to be excited about food when it is constantly evolving and fusing to create a dish greater than the sum of its ingredients.
What companies have you worked at for internships?
I have worked with HTM Foodservice, a business department nestled inside Purdue's school of Health and Human Science.
About The IFMA Education Foundation
The IFMA Education 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.
About People Future 2025
The IFMA Education Foundations new industry initiative, focused on attracting the best and brightest talent into the foodservice industry. Click here to learn more.
How to help the next generation of foodservice!
- Support the IFMA Education Foundation by making a donation
- Get involved in the People Future 2025 initiative
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.