Her career progression includes stints at Forest Grill in Birmingham as line cook and sous chef, at Mani Osteria Bar in Ann Arbor as sous chef, then as a sous chef who rose to executive chef at Republic Tavern in Detroit and top chef at the affiliated Parks Rec. In 2017, she joined Marrow — a “farm to fork” restaurant and full-animal butcher shop on Kercheval Avenue in Detroit‘s West Village neighborhood — first as executive chef and now as a partner with founder Ping Ho.
That topic — “creating an environment that isn’t yielding burnout,” as she puts it — is one focus of a Crain’s Detroit Business interview for a women in leadership series. Excerpts from her nine-question conversation with freelancer Rachelle Damico:
► Female and male leaders: “Women tend to create an environment where other women feel comfortable and empowered to succeed instead of challenged in a way that makes you not succeed. I think women tend to grow stronger under female leadership. At least, that’s been the case for me. The way that I give and take leadership as a female is very different than my male counterparts.”
► Changing profession: “There are a lot of women in my kitchen, moreso than when I was coming up in kitchens. When I started and you ran into another girl in the kitchen, it was shocking. I think it’s significantly more frequent now. … If you don’t see examples of success that look like you, it’s harder to imagine success that looks like you.”
► Kitchen equity: “I would love to see people treated as well as we treat our food. We care about where our food comes from … but we don’t care about the people making it. … We try to provide an equitable and a long-term relationship with the people we work with. … We want to make sure we foster an environment for creativity and not just punching a clock.”
► Executive chef’s role: “You have to be a business person, you have to be a mentor, you have to be a savant, and you have to be a trendsetter. It’s many hats. It’s challenging. … You have to manage all of those things simultaneously and give them equal value.”
► Letting go: “A lot of chefs have control issues, which I totally do as well, but I find the failures of my team to be my failures in training them to be adequate team members for me. I recognize that I’m a single person in a big machine of hard-working people that are all equally as creative as me.”
► ‘Smarter, not harder:’ “People assume working 60 hours a week is an industry standard. I don’t approve of that, and I don’t think it’s necessary to be good at your job. I believe in working smarter, not harder, and relying on your team to make your job easy.”