Why do you want to serve on the Board of Directors for the RPFC?
I believe strongly in the cooperative movement and understand that it is not about an individual, a particular community, or even a singular business entity. Rather, the co-operative food movement is about fundamentally changing conventional business practices by making an alternative system and supply chain that is democratic, ethical, environmentally and economically sustainable and successful.
Having a unique background in food and business, I believe I am in a unique position to not only further the cooperative movement as a whole, but to serve the RPFC and the Rogers Park Community. I am keenly aware of the implications of the Food Justice Movement and wish to further ethical and egalitarian practices for the shared benefit of our community members.
What is your passion? How could we see that passion in action in your day-to-day life?
A few years ago I was asked this very question. I responded by stating that I was a “culinary artist,” that my passion was “food and cooking,” and “I derived great satisfaction by pleasing and doing something enjoyable for others”.
While this still holds true today, and that food and cooking are still significant aspects of my life, my passion and where I derive the most fulfillment in helping others so that they may attain their dreams.
Whether it be creating the ideal reception for a client, opening my home to a friend that wants to save-up to move to another city, assisting an acquaintance find a job, or working to grow a community small business, I am passionate about serving and doing things for others. It is my dream to help others realize theirs.
List some of the organizations, causes, initiatives, and groups of which you have been a part. How do you believe you involvement with these groups have prepared you to serve on the RPFC Board of Directors?
In addition to holding food-service leadership positions in some of the top restaurants and food-service business in the world, I have experience serving with various social causes including: GLBT Equal Rights, European Refugee Transition, Youth Homelessness, Food Security, and Food Justice. I am a member of Slow Food, American Culinary Federation, and was trained at the Culinary Institute of America.
Working with organizations with varying hierarchal structures and constituents with diverse needs has prepared me to work with a community based business such as the RPFC. Our community is rich with members that have a myriad of backgrounds, unique needs, and varied ideologies. As the RPFC is a foodservice business with a social mission, my experience has prepared me to work with our diverse community.
Describe an experience in which you worked on a team. What did you offer the team? How did you compromise for the team's benefit?
Workers in professional kitchens are members of the same team. The kitchen is dependent on each and every person doing their particular task and meeting a specific deadline every few minutes. Each component of each dish has a deadline which must be met. Further complicating matters is that some dishes have multiple components coming from different workers that must be timed precisely. When one part or person in the kitchen is not accomplishing these tasks there is a domino effect in which the entire kitchen becomes further and further behind until it breaks down. In kitchen jargon, we call this being “in the weeds”.
When someone is in the weeds in my kitchen I do not yell and push harder for them to do more and more. Rather, I roll up my sleeves and work right along next to them to make sure they get completely caught up.
Whenever you work as a team toward a specific goal, there will always be times in which you must roll up your sleeves and work along next to another so that everything can move forward. In starting a business there is just no time to sit back and tell someone they are not doing it correctly. There is only time to work along next to them and get it done together.
Briefly describe two or three possible ways you could handle the following situation. How you would ultimately act?
You've recently been elected to the RPFC Board. A close friend and local food producer privately asks you to help her business by having the Board publicly denounce the alleged unethical business practices of her closest competitor, whose products are already sold at RPFC. The business owner says she will deeply discount RPFC orders for her product for a year if you help her.
Scenario 1 (How I would ultimately act)
- I would thank my friend for her friendship and for bringing the alleged unethical business practices to my attention.
- I would remind her that as a cooperative, I don’t have the authority to unilaterally make decisions for the RPFC as to which businesses are ethical and not.
- I would then help her to understand the process in which the RPFC can review the practices of suppliers.
- I would invite her to make a motion and bring the alleged practices to The Board’s attention.
- I would ask The Board to contact the accused competitor and have them explain their practices.
- I would then recuse myself from making any decisions related to my friend or decisions that may affect her or a competitor’s business.
- I would wait for my friend and The Board to follow RPFC procedural processes on supplier review and acceptable business practices.
- I would accept the decision of The Board and RPFC
Possible Scenario 2 (How I would NOT act)
- I could thank her for bringing the alleged unethical business practices to my attention
- I could tell The Board that unethical practices goes against our values and that they must drop that supplier immediately
- If The Board did not agree, could resign in protest, I do not wish to be associated with businesses that support unethical producers.