Year of Graduation: 2009
Program: A. A. S. in Culinary Arts
Current Position: Executive Chef, Crescent Moon Wine Bar and Restaurant, Spring, TX
Accolades: Prime Living Chopped Competition Winner; 2013 Eater Houston Semi-Finalist Contestant
“Hi, I’m Chef Patti Alvarez Burdette, from Crescent Moon Wine Bar, I’m the Executive Chef. I really enjoyed being a student here at LeNôtre. When I decided to make the “big” jump and say “Ok, I want to be a professional in the culinary world,” this was definitely the top school that I looked into when I was doing my research. You have other schools that have programs in culinary basis but it’s not anything like what you would find here at Culinary Institute LeNôtre.
I have two daughters and juggling school and running back and forth and being a mom was a little bit tough, but the school definitely gives you programs that can help adjust to your life. So if you are working full-time or part time or you have nothing else to do or you’re a parent, you can still find a way to come to school.
The best thing that I have taken from being a student here at Culinary Institute LeNôtre was the teachers. They gave me so much inspiration and taught me so much. They gave me real-world scenarios where, you know, you’re cooking and you feel that pressure and you’re understanding workflow and you’re trying to produce a great product at the end.
For my career personally it was amazing to choose Culinary Institute LeNôtre. It has open doors for me that I believe would not have been opened had I not been a student here, and exposed to the experiences that I’ve had here, and being able to have been taught by the teachers that come here.”
- Chef Patti, you’ve been very active since you’ve graduated from Culinary Institute LeNôtre (CIL). Describe your culinary journey so far:
Well, I hit the ground running as soon as I finished my externship at Benjy’s. I really enjoyed being in the kitchen and was lucky to have had Chef Mike Potowski hire me. I worked at Benjy’s for a year and then I moved to Crescent Moon Wine Bar in the Spring area. Since I wanted to learn more about wine, I was hired as the Sous Chef and then became the Executive Chef.
- What was one of the most useful skills you learned at the school that you didn’t fully appreciate until you started working?
Mise en place. . . . You really have to be organized and understand that everything has its own place and purpose in the kitchen.
- What’s your fondest memory of your time at CIL?
Meeting great friends that till this day we are in contact helping each other out. Also, I was granted some amazing opportunities like being able to help Chef Casey Thomas at a private dinner.
- Describe your process for developing recipes.
Well, different things spark up the imagination and the palate. But, there is a process that you think of when you compose a dish/recipe: flavors, colors and texture and those are the three main points I stick to. But having a good sounding board like my Sous Chef Victor Quintero helps out a lot!
- When you first started working as a chef, what surprised you the most about the job?
The importance of interaction between you and your guests, making a connection and making them feel welcomed to your home. They would have to drag me out of the kitchen to say “hi.” I’m not saying I’m a social pro, but it has gotten a little easier. Besides, they really like it when you say thank you for spending the evening with us and having dinner.
- Chefs very often have the reputation of being surly. How important is having good people skills to the success of a chef?
First thing you have to remember as a chef is that you are the leader of the brigade. They look to you for advice, guidance, and growth. You also have to be patient with different personalities. You can’t treat everyone the same, everyone learns at different paces. But being stern and passionate about your craft is not a bad thing. We strive for perfection, and those around you should have the same passion as you and have the same vision. You have to be prepared to meet your guests in the dining room. Be humble and accept compliments and complaints.
- Do you have any inspiring words for our current students?
Stay focused, read A LOT, and enjoy your journey . . . there are always opportunities to learn.