Q. How long have you been with Olive Garden, and what was your first job with the brand?
A. I started eight years ago as a server at the Olive Garden restaurant in Redding, CA. Recently I completed management training and am now a service manager there. I love the restaurant and our team, and I’m so excited to have the opportunity to remain there.
Q. What would people be surprised to learn about you?
A. I worked in many restaurants over 24 years before finding a home with Darden. I’m obsessed with getting everything right, and those restaurants did not share my philosophy. Now I’m part of a company that cares about excellence, a company whose culture is built on excellence through teams that drive our success. We need to be present in that every day in a supportive as well as a leading role.
Q. Is there one Olive Garden dish you can’t resist?
A. Braised Beef & Tortelloni — Asiago cheese-filled tortelloni served with fork-tender braised beef in a creamy mushroom Marsala sauce with seasoned tomatoes. The combination is perfect, with a classic Italian feel. It’s warm, satisfying and comforting. I’m a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu with a background in classic French cuisine, but the techniques are the same.
Q. Where is your favorite place to be on your days off?
A. I’m an avid outdoorsman and love to hunt and fish. My favorite fishing spot is Hat Creek in Lassen Volcanic National Park east of Redding where I catch rainbow trout and brook trout. The largest fish I ever caught was a 38-inch trout that weighed 29 pounds in central Oregon.