These interviews are part of a series that highlights new hires within the industry. Have you recently started a new role or do you know someone who has? Submit your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jordan Swiler was recently hired as chef at Café & Bar Lurcat in Minneapolis.
1. What are you looking forward to the most in your new role at Café & Bar Lurcat?
This is a surreal moment in my life—to say I was excited to be considered is an understatement. I am looking forward to our new menu change and format. This is an incredible opportunity to put some new life back into the restaurant, while also maintaining our loyal guest following. There are so many people who enjoy our restaurant, and we will continue to deliver the Lurcat traditions that our guests love. This role has allowed me to stretch my wings and expand our creative expertise in the kitchen. I hope to inspire my team to learn new styles of cooking, which will include dishes inspired by regional and international cuisine on our new Voyage menu.
2. How do you think past industry experience has prepared you for this role?
I have been a D’Amico guy through and through for most of my career. I was fortunate enough to start my career at Lurcat and moved down to Florida to learn new culinary aspects that have shaped every element of my current role.
Being able to work and learn from so many industry-leading chefs has been my driving force. It has been an invaluable opportunity cooking and working with past and current chefs in the D’Amico family, including Chef Adam King who has led our kitchen for the past 14 years, Campiello Naples Chef Mike Dalton, Café & Bar Lurcat Naples Chef Mike Mueller and the imitable Jay Sparks.
3. How did you get into the industry?
My culinary interests began to emerge while I was young. I learned to cook back in the days when Food network had more than just reality TV. I would watch Emeril Live, Good Eats and Iron Chef in the basement of my parents’ house, while my siblings and my dad watched football or hockey upstairs. I always knew that I wanted to work with food. I started practicing what I learned at a young age, cooking for our family of six, two to three nights a week. It was, at the time, a way to get out of doing the dishes.
I realized I had a talent for cooking, so in high school, I started taking cooking classes at Hennepin Community Technical College. Then I attended the University of Missouri where I received a bachelor’s degree in food science and nutrition and a minor in business administration. During this time, I spent a few summers in the Twin Cities working as a culinary assistant for D’Amico Catering and started my own small catering operation.
I spent four years working in the kitchen at Lurcat, first as a line cook and then as sous chef. So I was already familiar with the property, its menu and operations when I returned to lead the kitchen as Chef. In between my time at Lurcat, I spent two years in Naples, Florida as an executive sous chef at The Continental, a modern day steakhouse and craft cocktail bar that I helped to open. Being a part of the restaurant’s opening chef team was an incredible learning experience that I carry with me in my new role today. During this time, I have learned how to move with speed and accuracy,and that a positive guest experience is my top priority.
4. What are you hoping to achieve in your new role?
I would like to maintain the quality and standards of serving at Café & Bar Lurcat and convey fresh ideas that work. I want to have a good solid working environment for my current staff, and bring in new solid members. Ultimately, I want to make this as great of an experience as possible for people dining here. We are a full-service restaurant, and host events from small business dinners to large weddings year-round. We are excited for what 2017 holds.
5. What do you enjoy most about the industry?
I really love the madness. There’s something about the controlled chaos of everyday being different. There’s really never a dull moment. This restaurant takes so much organization; and I love creating, making new things and watching people enjoy the food that we make.