Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Charley G's chef attributes success to the power of mentorship

Chef Holly Goetting attributes her success to
hard work, determination and the mentors she's
been fortunate enough to have as her career
has developed.
Mentoring others is not only necessary, but rewarding. Holly Goetting, a Lafayette native and chef, has benefited from the mentoring process and encourages others to do so as a measure of giving back and preparing the next generation for a career in the industry.

A mentor provides sound advice, guidance and an interest in an individual’s professional development. The Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foundation (LRAEF) has embraced the principle that “everyone in the industry should have a mentor or be a mentor,” which is a specific effort for the ProStart program.

With workforce needs topping 17,400 by the year 2022 in Louisiana, ProStart is designed to attract young people to the restaurant industry and if they choose to further their education—to college culinary programs.

Goetting’s path to Executive Chef for Charley G’s in Lafayette wasn’t predetermined one. She attended the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and worked at Lafayette restaurants. After a while, she decided the traditional college setting wasn’t a good fit for her—she felt alone and uncomfortable. After speaking to her mother, she was encouraged to consider a career in her childhood passion of cuisine.

“I was going to college and working in restaurants,” said Goetting. “My mom asked ‘why don’t you go to culinary school’. A light bulb went off for me and not long after, I enrolled at the John Folse Culinary Institute in Thibodaux.”

There she found the camaraderie and teamwork aspect she loved in high school as a soccer player and in the restaurants she had worked. Goetting felt welcomed and at home.

At the young age of 33, Goetting’s career has been impressive. She was named by Louisiana Cookin magazine as a “Chef to Watch” in 2005, awarded first place at “Palates and Paté”, an event benefiting The Outreach Center in Lafayette, and most recently, she was selected as one of 12 chefs to serve on the Louisiana Seafood Chef’s Council, along with Donald Link, Susan Spicer and Greg Reggio. She attributes her success to three mentors that she has had so far in her career.

“I couldn’t have gotten to where I am right now without the support of my mentors,” Goetting said. “One of my general managers early on taught me to come to work with a good attitude and try to get along with everyone.”

This has proven to be extremely valuable advice as she has ascended into management. How to manage individuals with different, and sometimes difficult personalities, is a lesson that many restaurateurs struggle with, as well as how to work with those with different backgrounds.

“My second mentor really trained me on techniques in the kitchen,” she added. “I definitely learned so much and now that I’m an executive chef, I take the time to show others in the kitchen, not necessarily a better way, but another way, to help them develop more well-rounded skills.”
Holly Goetting's most influential
mentor is Charles Goodson, a past
LRA Chair and Restaurateur
of the Year.
The mentor that has been the most influential for Goetting is Charles Goodson, owner of Charley’s G’s. As a former Louisiana Restaurant Association Chair and Restaurateur of the Year, Goodson’s wisdom and care with Goetting helped guide her through the transition of managing the back of the house in one of Lafayette’s more notable establishments.

“Charley encouraged me to compete in culinary competitions as a way to gain more confidence,” she said. “He always tells me and others to leave your problems at the door and put on a smile. If you walk in and don’t love what you do, it might be time to find something else.” 

Goetting has a leadership style rooted in listening to her staff and customers. As a female in her position, she realizes that there will always be someone who needs help, understanding and training.

“I listen to those around me,” said Goetting. “Showing respect for others also helps earn respect. Every day presents challenges and also opportunities for all of us to become better individuals, both personally and professionally.”

She has a few words of advice for those entering the industry.

“You will always have someone who will want your position, so you have to stand up for yourself, surround yourself with talented people,” she said. “Fame doesn’t come fast. You have to work for it and put in the time, which is extensive.”

Ultimately, Goetting aspires to own her own restaurant, but for now, she’s found a home at Charley G’s and doesn’t plan on leaving anytime soon. She realizes, “The grass isn’t always greener on the other side.” 

1 comment:

  1. Mentors can have the added benefit of creating an aura influence that can positively affect even those that aren't their pupil.