#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!
Apprentice Clarissa Haglid
Line Cook Apprentice, Food Bank Culinary School & HOPES Graduate
Chef/Culinary Instructor Riki Senn
Culinary Instructor & ProStart Educator at Caesar Rodney High School
Kitchen Manager Apprentice, Redfire Grill & Steakhouse (Hockessin)
CEO of the Awesome Department, Pizza by Elizabeths (Wilmington)
Chef/Owner Nikki Ali
Trini Quizeen (Dover)
My first food industry job was at Old Country Buffet in Toms River, NJ – I was a line server and moved up quite quickly into a supervisor role because I was also in retail for 22 plus years, where I realized my joy was keeping customers happy – I am a people person and big on keepin’ folks happy! MY WHY is actually a WHY NOT….why not share my country’s food where I am from (Trinidad and Tobago) – the food is on a whole other level….the flavors are nothing you have ever tasted before, I guarantee it! I choose to make this my career because after that many years in retail and seeing people laid off and being laid off myself I figured I can work hard for myself just as well as I can work for someone else…but mainly to bring a new flavor to Delaware as there isn’t any other Trinidad and Tobago restaurant here! I plan to expand and am working on securing a grant to do the expansion.
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!
I love this industry because I get to be creative with specials every day, and get feedback from my coworkers and customers. I love the feeling when a customer raves about the meal I’ve cooked for them. Caring for people and showing love through food is what I do – even on my days off I still love to cook for friends and family. I’ve made most of my best friends (and my boyfriend) working in restaurants.
Every night is a rush….especially on weekends when people are lined up around the building and you know the place will be filled within minutes of opening. As stressful as things get, there’s such a sense of fulfillment at the end of the night knowing that you worked hard and have made hundreds of people happy.
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.
After I won the first annual CROP foundation scholarship, I knew I wanted to attend Johnson & Wales University and hone my culinary skills. I graduated and immersed myself in the industry, working at hotels and restaurants in Miami FL. I really wanted to impact my community with my gift and felt like I couldn’t do that as I was stripped of my creativity and most foods were frozen with little room to really elevate the dishes. I was so used to the farm to table style cooking, and I really wanted to continue that. Once I had my son I started to research the ingredients in foods that he was consuming. I was stunned, confused and angry that most ingredients are harmful and are currently banned in other countries. That’s when I started experimenting with food alternatives and making my own ‘cheezes,’ juices, breads etc. It clicked for me that this was my path, to bring more delicious healthy foods to my community. I developed my brand Delectablez with the mission to bring a more plant forward cuisine to Delaware.
Since then I’ve been in the kitchen whipping up yummy ‘nature to table’ vegan foods. I have won season 2 of Aisle Trials, and received various awards and recognition as a black- woman owned business. I am now wholesaling my vegan Cheeze to select restaurants and pizzeria’s in Delaware. My pop up location has been inside DECO food hall since Feb-2022 and I have gotten lots of great feedback. I have customers that tell me I’ve made a difference in their life and that they have become more health conscious. That in itself keeps me going and wanting to bring more to my community, this is just the beginning!
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.” I travel because I don’t like being inert in any way and love to constantly learn. Traveling is learning and seeing other cultures, landscapes and the other 8 billion people. I’m always 24/7 switched on when traveling as every moment is unfamiliar. I see people in 3rd countries doing unspeakable and insane jobs for no money and that’s all they’ll ever know and have. Sooooooo, I’m grateful to have the opportunity of being 5 deep for hours “just making drinks, ordering food and listening to music” for a ton of money in comparison.