Q. How long have you been with Olive Garden and Darden?
A. I’ve been with Darden 34 years, 17 years at Red Lobster and 17 at Olive Garden. I started as a busser, but my managers said I was too fast and they wanted to train me to be a line cook. I was afraid! I didn’t know how to cook! But I liked it, and I’ve been in that job ever since. I helped open my current Olive Garden restaurant, in North McAllen, Texas, eight years ago. As a young man I was studying to be a welder, but when I started working for Darden, I fell in love with the restaurant business and decided to stay.
Q.What do you like best about your job as a line cook?
A. I enjoy my precision as team leader. I coach others and like having some responsibility and keeping order. I’ve always been the kind of guy who takes everything to heart, and of course, our No. 1 goal is to keep our guests happy. It’s challenging work, but we help each other.
Q. Given that every Olive Garden employee is the face of the brand, what positive qualities do you best represent?
A. I am trustworthy, hard-working and do things the right way. Everyone looks up to me. Since I’ve been here so long, team members ask me a lot of questions. I am always glad to help them out.
Q. What are you most proud of?
A. I have done everything to build a strong future and provide for my family. With help from Darden and Olive Garden, I have invested time and effort in my career and accomplished everything I set out to. I could not be any prouder of myself – and of my family for their support.
Q. Can you share with us a memorable interaction with a manager that moved you or possibly even changed you?
A. I’ve worked with a lot of managers, each one of them a little different, and I’ve learned from all of them. They all have been so helpful. It would be unfair to single out one or two. I’m grateful to Darden for all the opportunities I’ve been given.