A Day In The Life

Jessica Falkenstein

Jessica Falkenstein

Posted 01 February 2019

London Program

March 2011 Intake

Current Role: Executive Chef, Intel

My Alarm Goes Off… at 3:30am. I roll out of bed in the dark and throw my gym clothes on. I’m out of the door before I have a chance to crawl back into bed! I run 8 miles before I head into work at 5am. I usually pack up and am leaving the kitchen by 4pm on a typical day.

I’m Responsible for… the production and execution of two kitchens netting over $4 million in yearly sales. I oversee 76 cooks, dishwashers and front of house staff that work hard to ensure the satisfaction of the 4,000 employees we feed.

I Got The Job… when I got tired of working nights, weekends, and holidays! The food service industry can be very demanding, but if you are passionate about it, it is a sacrifice you most likely make for the betterment of your career. I was very fortunate to find a position that allows for more work-life balance and the opportunity to flex my creative muscle while using the skills that I learned from the Mountbatten Program and my undergraduate degree in Economics.

My Typical Day… consists of a lot of moving parts! Mornings begin with breakfast service at 7am and the day ends after lunch service at 2pm. We have a pre-service lunch meeting at 10am to get hyped up for service. I plan menus with upwards of 40 unique dishes weekly, which takes up a large portion of my time. I also spend a lot of time with local farmers and vendors coordinating seasonal produce to incorporate into menus. I do admin and human resources tasks such as hiring and onboarding, and face to face meetings with each of my cooks weekly. Food cost is an integral part of my job, and managing inventory and purchasing allow me to keep food costs under control. My favorite part of my job though is… you guessed it… cooking. I get the opportunity to do a lot of catering and special events which make all of the hard work and long hours worth it.

The Culture of My Workplace… is intense but playful. The kitchen is such a fun and creative work environment where people are able to express themselves, both verbally and in their food. We work hard, long hours over flames in hot environments where time is of the essence, but we share a bond that is unlike anything I have ever encountered in a work environment. My work family is as important to me as my real family.

My Most Memorable Work Moment… Anytime I get to create experiences for people surrounding food is a memorable work moment. I love watching the aftermath of a good meal, the smiles of contentment and peace, the bonds formed at the table. The connections people make over food are different to anything I have ever encountered. Being a part of “breaking bread” moments is why I am so passionate about what I do. I get glimpses of this every single day, so every moment is special and memorable in its own way.

My Role Models Are… People that follow their heart. My kitchen role model is Marcus Samuelsson, who incorporates his culture and tells a story with his food. In the face of adversity, Samuelsson has made a name for himself. Ruth Reichl is another role model, who was able to turn her passion into a career.

The Most Challenging Part of My Job… is definitely managing personalities. With so many employees on my team, it is incredibly important for me to learn how to communicate properly with each and every one of them. My job is to foster an environment where the creative culinary process is able to sprout and grow. This requires a lot of product research, crunching of numbers, and knowledge of substitutions. If a cook comes to me with a vision, my goal is to clear the way for them to execute that vision.

The Best Part of My Job… is also managing personalities! I have learned so much about people and the way we express ourselves as human beings. Everything I learn at work, I am able to apply in my daily life. This is the most beautiful piece of my job.

After Work… I usually try to stay on my feet for as long as possible. Once I am off my feet, I am down for the count! I typically go home, cook for my fiancé, do volunteer work, or curl up on the couch with a cooking memoir

Plan B: if I wasn’t doing this... I honestly can’t imagine what else I would be doing! I truly have my dream career. Cooking has become such a large part of my life, that even when I’m not working, I am cooking, developing recipes, or exploring new foods.