The NoMad hotel in the heart of New York City has roughly 100 kitchen employees, including line cooks, 15 sous chefs, and managers at different kitchen levels. The NoMad’s executive chef, James Kent, and chef de cuisine, Brian Lockwood, talk about opportunities to challenge and inspire young chefs in their restaurant settings and in competitions. Chef Kent competed in the Bocuse d’Or in 2011, placing 10th in the world, and Chef Lockwood is an adviser for Team USA, for the 2017 Bocuse d’Or.
For young chefs, is working in the hotel different than other restaurant settings?
Chef Kent: At The NoMad, we have an opportunity to bring in people at many levels. We have a bar where someone who is a little greener can work with one of our sous chefs. We have a private dining room on the roof, run by a sous chef, and we normally have two or three cooks up there. And we have our proper restaurant, where the dinner kitchen is, and where the stronger cooks gravitate. We can bring people in at different levels and watch them grow. We have a lot of young cooks who end up doing well.
One of those young protégés who’s doing extremely well is Vincenzo Loseto, a line cook at The NoMad who—along with Daniel Garcia, another NoMad cook who served as his Commis—won the Young Chef Competition. Winning that competition earned them the opportunity to stagier with Team USA in the Bocuse d’Or in Lyon, France, in January.
Did Vincenzo ask to compete or did you select him?
Chef Lockwood: He came to us, so of course we helped him. It was the same when I said I wanted to compete, James helped me get to the finish line.
Chef Kent: The whole staff can benefit when one of the team is competing. Brian was training here at The NoMad for months leading up to the competition for Team USA, and it really inspired everyone in the building. People were coming in early to help and to watch.
Vinnie is also an incredible young cook. He and Danny worked really hard, and did very well. Now, Vinnie is completing a stagier at Noma [in Copenhagen, Denmark]. He won a ment’or scholorship grant to travel and stagier, so he’s been at Noma for the past 10 weeks.
When he finishes that stagier will he come back to The NoMad?
Chef Lockwood: Part of winning the Young Chef competition means he gets to work with Team USA leading up to the Bocuse d’Or, so when he comes back from Noma he’ll spend a few weeks here with us, and then go to Napa to help Team USA. He’ll go to Lyon with them and then come back to The NoMad.
You are very active in the ment’or organization and even host dinners at The NoMad with chefs from around the country. What are the benefits of hosting chef dinners?
Chef Kent: Fund-raising is clearly part of it, but it’s also a great opportunity for our team at The NoMad to get to work with amazing chefs. I always love cooking with my friends in their restaurants or at food and wine events. If my cooks can spend time with these chefs, learn from them, and create relationships, that’s the most important aspect.
How do you find people who have ambition, an eagerness to learn, and a willingness to be mentored?
Chef Lockwood: That’s part of the criteria we look for and part of our culture. We’re all still curious and want to learn. I know I am and Chef is, and we all want to learn from the people around us.