#DErestaurantlife – not just our newest/most favorite hashtag, but a true way of life for the 50,000+ strong that make up Delaware’s restaurant industry! We’ll be shining the spotlight on one wonderfully unique restaurant staffer each month, and asking the question, “Why Restaurants?” We know our answer, but we want to hear from YOU – what about this industry makes it a great place to work? Why do you love it? And why can’t you imagine doing anything else? Send us a message if (or someone you know) wants to be featured!
Bar Manager, Eclipse Bistro (Wilmington)
The restaurant industry is a place where I get the opportunity to do what I love for a living, while making a good living. My love for restaurants started as a child with Pizza Hut. As the son of a pastor, home life could be chaotic, especially at the dinner table. But after reading my 5 books a month for the ‘Book It’ Program, and earning a coupon for my free personal pan pizza….it would be a treat to go sit in a restaurant on a Friday, where we would all sit and everyone would be civil while having a great time. I loved the experience of having a nice meal, in a welcoming environment, with smiling faces, great food, and having a great time with my loved ones. When I was legally allowed to work, I went right back to Pizza Hut to apply for my first job. I wanted to be a part of delivering that experience to people.
Apprentice Clarissa Haglid
Line Cook Apprentice, Food Bank Culinary School & HOPES Graduate
For graduate Clarissa Haglid, The Culinary School was the second chance she needed and her first opportunity to celebrate a graduation. “My experience at the Food Bank of Delaware has been a lifeline for me, being back in society,” she said. “It’s helped my mental health, helped me regain confidence. I still have something to offer, and I’m able to reach people. I have support.”
Chef/Culinary Instructor Riki Senn
Culinary Instructor & ProStart Educator at Caesar Rodney High School
I was a music major, but throughout college I worked in restaurants for extra cash. I always worked in the front of the house (waiting tables) but was always drawn to the back of the house and spent a lot of time in the kitchen watching the cooks and asking questions. Ultimately I migrated to the kitchen and eventually took it over – with friends we opened one white tablecloth restaurant and one rib house, and we were successful. I won a national contest for professional chefs where the grand prize was a trip to Germany to the Culinary Olympics, where I met so many influential people and eventually was hired by the executive chef at The Greenbrier Resort (a 5-star, 5-diamond resort).
Kitchen Manager Apprentice, Redfire Grill & Steakhouse (Hockessin)
My reasoning for choosing this industry is simply because I enjoy what I do. I love to cook but most of all I love working within a team atmosphere and being of help to those around me….it’s what makes all the time sacrificed worth while. I personally believe ministry begins within family but once you work with a company for a long time they become bonus family and they all trickle into one.
CEO of the Awesome Department, Pizza by Elizabeths (Wilmington)
My first restaurant job has been my only job…. I’ve been at Pizza By Elizabeth’s for 25 years. My current title is CEO of the Awesome Department. I started as the dishwasher when I was like 13 (kidding!) and worked my way up learning every single job. I haven’t left because Betsy LeRoy, the Coolest Boss EVER and won’t let me leave (kidding again). She really is the best and treats me like a son.
Chef/Owner Nikki Ali
Trini Quizeen (Dover)
My first food industry job was at Old Country Buffet in Toms River, NJ – My advice is that if you have a dream, make sure it’s BIG…and follow it! you Don’t allow anyone to take away from what you believe in – you can accomplish anything you put your mind to. There will be obstacles but they are called OBSTACLES for a reason….they are put in your path and made for you to get over them. COVID was my obstacle never thought I’d make it through (I opened in Dec 2019) – but I see the light at the end of the tunnel coming soon. DREAM BIG AND GO AFTER YOUR DREAMS! The food industry is hard, don’t get me wrong – but what isn’t hard?! If you’re gonna do it, do it right.
Sarah Arsenault, Chef
Cool Springs Fish Bar (Dover, DE)
I’ve always wanted to be a chef. My parents cook, my grandparents cook – and by the third grade I wrote an autobiography about becoming a chef. My first job was in a restaurant, and I started at Cool Springs when I was 16…and I’ve been there over 20 years now!
Tamara Earl / Chef Entrepreneur
Delectablez (Wilmington, DE)
The culinary arts was always the path for me. Since the age of 12 I have been in the kitchen experimenting with different foods and cooking methods. I am intrigued with creating something out of nothing. Once I found ProStart in high school (culinary curriculum at William Penn) I knew I had to be in that class! Learning about FOH and BOH really helped me see both sides of the industry….really helping me to be versatile.
Rex Lotito, Bartender / Traveler
The Starboard & Starboard Raw (Dewey Beach, DE)
With some people (me) restaurants get in your blood; the serendipity, high energy, constant moving parts and personalities all challenge and reward at the same time. I’ve dipped into other industries and jobs (the high school drop out but went back for an MBA) but I just don’t function anywhere else. It’s inane when people deem other jobs as “ real jobs.”