In the Hot Seat with Chef Ted

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The Challenge: Brunch Fiasco. Chefs on the Line logo. Background image with various kitchen utensils. Image of Chef Ted and Chef Jessie talking in the kitchen.

We connected with Chef Ted to learn more about what it’s like being one of the Chefs of the Mills, and his experience filming the first episode of Chefs on the Line.

1. What do you love about what you do?

Chef Ted: I've always loved cooking, and I've always wanted to do it ever since I was a kid, pretty much. I don't think a lot of people can say that they chose something that they loved, and I fell in love with the act of cooking just very early on as a child, just watching people do things.

But then it became more of, why does this happen the way that it does? Why does this react the way it does? Why does this function this way? So, I wanted to learn more about that, and that really intrigued me to want to learn more and grow and work with people that have a lot more skills than me so I can grow and hopefully gain some of those skills.

And, that's pretty much it, just from a journey of burning oatmeal cookies, to using my neighbors’ kitchens in multiple floors of my buildings to make cheesecakes that I could sell throughout the city when I was home in New York. Getting encouragement and inspiration from the folks that saw that I had a passion for this and just passing things on kept me going.

So, it was always something special, not just learning about my craft, but just always having people that were there to look out for me and think about me.

Image of Chef Ted from his time at the Culinary Institute of America
Chef Ted during his time as a student at CIA

2. So this passion for cooking, did it start when you were a kid?

Chef Ted: Yeah, it was at a restaurant. I just saw a guy tossing food in the air, and it intrigued me. That's it. That's how I was inspired, just some guy sautéing in a pot. I was like, Man, that looks cool. I want to do that. Then I would watch my mother cooking and ask her questions, or watched as other people cooked like, Hey, how do I do this? And then I’d go and do it when my mom wasn't looking and get in trouble. She’d say, Don't touch my pots. It was something that just kept drawing me in.

3. Can you think of a time where you didn't know what to do to solve a problem? How did you get through it?

Chef Ted: I run into problems all the time, you know, every day. I don't know everything there is, and I'll be the first one to admit that.

4. How do you think foodservice has changed in the past 5 to 10 years?

Chef Ted: Labor's always been an issue, but it's even more so now. And I think that's probably the biggest change and the one that folks have to adapt to in foodservice. I think folks are coming up with a whole bunch of different solutions to meet people where they are and better train the folks that come on, but also do things to hopefully retain the folks that come in and keep them wanting to come to work.

5. What would be your advice to operators today?

Chef Ted: The pandemic changed a lot of things. People had time with their families, and it’s back-breaking work being in foodservice, and they had time to think. A lot of people said $15 an hour would put their business under, but there’s no loyalty anymore. So, we’ve got to train the people who do come in better, and use things like technology to make things more efficient, and motivate people to keep coming back to work.

6. Tell us a bit about your working relationship with the other Chefs of the Mills. What makes you all different?

Chef Ted: I may not always have an answer, but I think that's the important thing about being on a team. It's always good to speak to those subject-matter experts that can help me out. And number one, to say, I don't know. And number two, not being afraid to humble yourself and ask these questions like, Hey, man, can you talk me through this?

7. What do you think sets General Mills Foodservice apart?

Chef Ted: I think what we do very well is really focus on creating products that are consistent and user-friendly. User-friendly for operators, and just good products that are going to be functional and consistent with what operators need out there.

8. What's your favorite General Mills Foodservice product?

Chef Ted: I like the biscuits because of the versatile things we can do with them, what we create with them.

9. What was the hardest thing about the show? The most fun thing about the show?

Chef Ted: The hardest part was [the production team]. It was frustrating, and I guess that’s what [they] were trying to do, get us all riled up. But it really worked. The fun part was when it was over [laughing].

10. What advice would you give to other operators?

Chef Ted: You can never stop learning. I mean, if you feel like you’ve stopped, then you need to move on to something else. I think that applies every day in life. I always look to get something different out of today versus yesterday. Look to learn something different to better yourself and to make others better.