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Greg Griffie

Location: On the road
Current job(s): Crescent Hotels & Resorts
Position: Vice President, Culinary Operations
Years in the industry: 24

Everyone has a story. Tell us how you knew you wanted to become a chef?
It sounds cliché now, but I grew up helping my mother & grandmother pickle, can, preserve and bake. My first job was in food service and I haven’t looked back! I have never had a job outside of the restaurant or hotel industry.

What is the most difficult part of your day as a chef?
In my role (as Vice President of Culinary Operations at Crescent Hotels & Resorts), no day is the same. We travel a tremendous amount. I work with Chefs, Food & Beverage Directors, and Ownership groups throughout the United States. Every hotel operation is different, and each project has its own unique goal. The balance of working with Hotel Brands, Owners, Chefs, General Managers while aligning goals and defining success is the most difficult part of my job.

Westin, Reston, VA with Chef John - Michael Hamlet at Vinifera Restaurant
Westin, Reston, VA with Chef John – Michael Hamlet at Vinifera Restaurant

What are the most rewarding things about your profession?
I always enjoy launching a new restaurant or F&B concept and watch it succeed and grow. Most of my projects take months to a year to come to fruition so the launch is always rewarding. I also enjoy working directly with the property teams and seeing the “ah-ha” moment.

As the Culinary Operations Director for Crescent Hotels, would you say that your time if spent more in or out of the kitchen?
Out of the kitchen. Most of my time is spent building strategy, tools, restaurant concepts and being a resource for our properties. I work for the Hotels and Owners. My time in the kitchen is focused on training and development.

The F&B industry is notorious for long hours and stressful careers. How do you keep level headed and focused?
Running. I have found that running and training for endurance races has really helped me manage stress, set and obtain better goals. Over the past 14 years I’ve completed 20 marathons, a 50K trail race, 2 endurance relay races, and numerous trail and road half marathons. I find that running is not only great way to relieve stress, but to give me a boost on busy days. Running has taught me how diet can truly impact performance. This isn’t just specific to running, but how diet can affect your day to day life as well.

What are some differences between working with hotels versus a restaurant group?
Crescent Hotels and Resorts is a pure play 3rd party management company. We do not own our Hotels. In many hotels we manage our Owner & Brand expectations to gain results. This brings its own unique sets of challenges and rewards.

How many Food and Beverage centers are you operating at Crescent Hotels?
We have around 95 Hotels and all of our hotels offer some style of food service. Some of our properties are focused service; and offer only breakfast, others have up to 8 or more Food & Beverage outlets. 

Adolphus, Dallas, TX with Chef Marcus Strietzel at The French Room
Adolphus, Dallas, TX with Chef Marcus Strietzel at The French Room

What do you look for in potential team members? Where do you go to recruit?
Recruit is an on-going effort; I don’t think there is one particular place that yields better candidates than others. Though I’m hoping Chefs Roll can help! When recruiting and interviewing team members I think it’s always important to understand how their personality can “fit in” or complement the existing team. A great resume doesn’t always make a great team member.

If you could change one thing about the food industry, what would it be?
That a culinary degree does not make you a better culinarian than someone who doesn’t have a degree.

What are your pet peeves in the kitchen at home, a friend’s kitchen, and at work?
Unorganized cluttered work spaces and waste. I believe organization and a sharp knife cannot be understated, but wasting or discarding food unnecessarily really frustrates me.

If you could go back in time, what would you tell yourself at the beginning of your career?
Be patient; take a deep breath and push.

Who were your culinary role models growing up and who are they today?
Many of the top chefs from the early 90’s. Today I have tremendous respect for Chef Dan Barber. In general, I have more respect today for many of the farmers, fisherman & producers who have remained true to who & what their product stands for.

Culinary School…Yea or nay?
Yea, I believe culinary schools can provide a great base of knowledge for anyone who is just starting their career. Ultimately it is your determination, commitment to continuous learning and hard work that will allow you to succeed, not the degree.

Westin Arlington Gateway, VA with Chef Bobbie Miller at Restaurant Pinzimini
Westin Arlington Gateway, VA with Chef Bobbie Miller at Restaurant Pinzimini

What is your definition of success in our industry?
Success is where you can find a team that you enjoy working with. Life is too short and this career is too demanding to be stuck in a job that you are not excited and happy about.

What is your culinary “best case scenario”?
I really enjoy working with our teams to create local & authentic experiences for our guests. In today’s world, travelers like to experience a sense of place when on business or leisure travel.

How did you find Chef’s Roll and what urged you to join?
I met, Thomas Keslinke, the co-founder through a mutual business acquaintance. Thomas and I discussed Chef’s Roll and how it can add value to our industry. After several discussions, I realized how it can be a great platform for our industry. Many of the Chefs in our company do not get a chance to network with chefs outside of hotels. I believe Chef’s Roll can be a great place for them to showcase their work and view what other professionals are working on.

What’s next for you?
I am the first Culinary Discipline Leader within Crescent Hotels & Resorts. I have only been in my current role for about one year and I am not thinking about what’s next. My goal is to elevate the positioning of our Portfolio of Food & Beverage Operations.

Learn more about Chef and Culinary Operator Greg Griffie on his Chef’s Roll profile HERE.
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