What’s it like to be the Head Chef at one of Toronto’s most acclaimed restaurants? Pretty amazing, at least to Chef Kris Schlotzhauer, who runs the kitchen at famed Dundas West restaurant Enoteca Sociale. So how does this 31-year-old SAIT Polytechnic alum live his notable life? Read on to find out…
Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
My job consists of managing all aspects of the back-of-house at Enoteca Sociale – from menu development, to cost control, to human resources.
Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
I started at Enoteca Sociale after networking with the restaurant’s then-chef Grant van Gameren during my last week at CHARCUT in Calgary, shortly before I moved back to Ontario to be closer to family. I chose this career path because I’m passionate about the industry and I knew I could succeed if I devoted myself to it fully.
What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
The best part of my day is running the kitchen during a busy dinner service; there are so many moving parts to co-ordinate, and everything always seems to be on the edge of chaos. The most challenging part of my day is managing all the different personalities and relationships you find in restaurant kitchens.
What is one sign that you’ve seen over the years to suggest that your work/life balance is off?
When my wife starts complaining that we never see each other.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Owning my own restaurant with my wife, Suzy, who is a pastry chef.
What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
Myself. When I was a teenager, I worked in restaurant kitchens but always had a lot of self-doubt that I could become a chef some day. I tried a few different industries in my early 20s, but at 23 I decided to commit to this career and see how far I could go.
What does success look like to you? Does Money = Happiness?
Success to me is owning my own restaurant(s) where I can help create memorable experiences for as many people as I can.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
Becoming Head Chef at Enoteca Sociale in June 2013.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Work. Work harder and longer than your peers. Talent alone won’t get you where you want to go. Learn as much as you can, read books, go in early, ask for extra tasks. You will be rewarded for your determination and dedication.
Where is your favourite place to wine/dine in your city and why?
My wife and I like to try different places all the time. It’s important to get out there and experience as many different restaurants as possible and to take in as much as you can from all of them.
When you’re not working, how do you love to spend your “me” time?
Curled up on the couch with my wife and our new puppy, Frankie, watching a movie.
Where is your favourite place to travel? Why?
My wife’s family lives in Costa Rica so I love going down to visit them. It’s such a diverse environment and I have barely scratched the surface.
If you had to choose a theme song, what would it be?
“Unbelievers” by Vampire Weekend.
If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?
I would probably be working for my dad’s home health care company, Ontario Home Health. It’s a booming industry that is also very rewarding.
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
I support local food charities such as Second Harvest because I believe that we produce enough food to feed everyone, and everyone deserves a proper, high-nutrition diet.
What to you is notable?
Notable is being an industry leader. Sharing ideas with your employees as well as other leaders in the industry and building a sense of community.
Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
iPhone for life.
Photo by Rick O’Brien