This Veteran's Day, we are proud to celebrate all those who have served our country, and we thank you for your service and dedication. We're thankful to all our veterans, including the many who are members of the Darden family. In honor of Veteran's Day, today we're featuring Angel Madera, Managing Partner of LongHorn Steakhouse in Seekonk, Massachusetts.
Growing up, I always had a passion for food from watching my dad in the kitchen. I was amazed by all the fun things he was able to create from simple ingredients in our modest pantry. After losing my dad when I was only 13, I wanted to pursue culinary arts in some way and follow in his footsteps. I attended Johnson & Wales’ College of Culinary Arts but was only able to stay enrolled for two trimesters before realizing I could not afford the program.
By then it was 2002, right after the September 11, 2001, attacks so I decided to join the Army. My dad was also in the military, so I was once again following in his footsteps. I was a member of the Army’s 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. After boot camp, I was deployed to Iraq as part of the 1st Stryker Brigade. I spent three years in the military, and once my active duty was finished, I decided I wanted to continue to pursue a career in the restaurant industry.
I started working in the kitchen at LongHorn Steakhouse and learned all the various culinary roles. I ended up becoming a Certified Trainer. My Managing Partner became my mentor and helped me learn and develop. I really wanted to pursue management opportunities and keep growing within the company. I interviewed and was accepted into the Manager-in-Training (MIT) program and was eager to continue my career growth. In the three days between interviewing and being accepted into the program, I received notice that I had been reactivated in the Army and would need to prepare for deployment in four weeks. I would remain on active duty for more than a year after not having been in a uniform in four years.
The MIT program is 10 weeks long, so I did not have time to complete it. I felt like I was just in the midst of being able to pursue my dreams and my career, but now it would all have to go on hold. I went and talked to my Managing Partner and the rest of my leadership, who were incredibly supportive. To my surprise, they told me that once I was finished, they would place me back into the MIT program. I did my tour in Afghanistan and returned to LongHorn to start the program.
After completing the program four years ago, I have continued to work my way up and to different restaurants until becoming Managing Partner. I was even able to transfer to a restaurant to be closer to my family. My entire career path, both with the military and the restaurant industry, was to follow my dad’s path. I still carry that same passion for food every day, and I’m thankful that LongHorn has allowed me to serve my country and continue to grow within the company. They were willing to hold a position for me while I was deployed for a year and then even transferred me to a restaurant to be near my family, and I’m so grateful for that loyalty.
To all my fellow veterans, I want to express my appreciation. Thank you for your service.
By: Angel Madera
Angel is the Managing Partner of the LongHorn Steakhouse in Seekonk, Massachusetts, and was an Army Sergeant in the I-14 Cavalry squadron of the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.