Perseverance, patience and passion: Steve Faunce Spotlight
Since he was happily dancing around his uncle’s feet in the kitchen of a family-owned inn, Steve Faunce has had a whirlwind career in the culinary arts. Falling in and out of the profession over the last 35 years, he has had a chance to experience it all and has finally found the job he’s worked so long and hard for. Going from a teenage dishwasher at a small Italian restaurant in Pennsylvania to the current executive chef at a Christian conference center located in the breathtakingly beautiful redwood forests of California, he will tell you it’s been an interesting adventure. And although he may not have known what his dream job would be at 14 or even at 44, the passion for food that started in his mom’s kitchen as a child is what got him there 35 years later. That’s also where Escoffier Online came in. Having been out of culinary school for a few decades, Steve decided he needed a more modern education in the culinary arts without the inconvenient hassle of going to a brick and mortar school. Now a graduate from our online culinary school, he has more than enough experience and schooling to fuel his career and go above and beyond the treetops at his dream job.
Steve took the time after a 14 hour work day to discuss everything from the power of perseverance, what he learned from the procurement side of the business and what advice he has to offer recent or future graduates on how to get their dream job.
Escoffier: You’ve had an interest in cooking from a young age. Tell me a little bit about how that came to be.
Faunce: My grandparents owned a hotel in West Virginia, and we would vacation there. I can remember hanging out in the coffee shop and in the kitchen trying to stay out of my uncle’s way while he prepared meals for guests. My first job in restaurants was a small Italian restaurant named “La Villa Capri” in Ardsley, Pa. My brother and I were hired as dishwashers for .75 cents an hour and all the dishes were washed by hand. The owner asked us if we wanted to learn how to make pizzas and cook and we said yes! So, here we were at 14 and 15 years old making sauces and gravies from scratch, sandwiches, dinner entrees, hoagies and steak sandwiches and pizzas. What a great opportunity to get our feet wet. I loved it and decided that I wanted a career in food service.
Escoffier: You’ve been in the culinary arts for a long time and have already attended school. Why did you decide to do Escoffier Online’s program?
Faunce: I decided on Escoffier Online because I needed a refresher in the skills learned decades ago. Brick and mortar schools are not in close proximity to me , so online instruction seemed like a natural [alternative]. I looked at other programs and felt Escoffier was the best fit and value for me.
Escoffier: How did it help you?
Faunce: It helped me fill in the empty spaces of things I had learned years ago, and it reminded me of the procedures learned. It also taught me new techniques and gave me access to wonderful recipes and information I hadn’t come across in my previous studies. The industry certainly has changed in the 35 years since i had attended school.
Escoffier: You left the culinary arts world for a moment in your career and did food sales. What kind of perspective did you gain from that?
Faunce: Leaving the food production side and working in the procurement side gave me a better understanding of sourcing foods and equipment for day-to-day operation. Understanding how produce gets to market and actually buying perishable items and seafood and frozen lines for the broker I worked for gave me a glimpse of how the product gets to the restaurant and the unique challenges that face both supplier and consumer. It also gave me an appreciation of the relationship between salesman and head chef and how it’s truly a partnership, not just buying food.
Escoffier: Where are you currently working?
Faunce: My current position is food services director and executive chef at Redwood Glen, a Christian Camp and Conference Center located in Loma Mar, California. We are situated in the redwood forest about 35 miles south of San Francisco. Escoffier helped me achieve new and exciting things for Redwood Glen, and the guest gets the full benefit from it in terms of improved food offerings and better menu selections. While going through the course assessments, many times I made them for staff. They always looked forward for new and exciting offerings and would often ask, “is this for school?” They never left unsatisfied.
Escoffier: If you could do anything in the culinary arts, what would it be?
Faunce: I’m actually doing what I’ve always wanted to do. I get a chance to cook, mentor, instruct, and run a cost effective operation where ministers serve our guests and staff. I like to say that our department is the fuel that drives the engine that runs the train.
Escoffier: Since you’re a long time culinary veteran currently working in your dream job, what advice do you have for chefs entering now?
Faunce: My advice for chefs entering now is patience, patience, patience. I see many young people think they have to have their “forever” job right away. It took me almost 35 years and many, many experiences along the way to finally land the “dream” job I’ve always wanted. Experience as many different culinary opportunities as you can. Broaden your base of experiences and you’ll certainly find your path and calling. Whatever it may be, be passionate about it and savor each and every moment. Truly in our realm, every day is a new beginning. What are you going to do to impact those around you today?