An Interview with ProStart Alumni Patrick Clark

Where did you go graduate high school?

Harding Charter Preparatory High School, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. During my junior and senior years, I also attended and graduated from Metro Technology Centers South Bryant Campus in the culinary arts department, and I found my first restaurant job.

How did ProStart help you?

ProStart laid a foundation for my culinary career, as did the experience I gained in ProStart competitions. I carry that foundation with me every day.

What was your first restaurant job?

My first restaurant job is also the place where I currently work/ co-own: The Red Cup, LLC. We are Oklahoma’s sole, all-vegetarian dining establishment. The cafe opened in 1995, merely as a coffeehouse, offering baked goods and coffee, with only very light emphasis on food and now we have a full menu.

What is your current job/title?

I am the executive chef/ owner of The Red Cup, LLC.

Why did you choose a career in the restaurant industry?

Simply, I love food, but what’s more, is that I love serving food, and watching how others respond to it. I love talking about food, the different flavors, how they can change with the introduction of new flavors into the mix. I’m in love with food, and with my farmers who grow our food. I am all about locally-sourced food and depending on your state for as much as possible to run your establishments.

What advice do you have for students and people just entering the restaurant/foodservice industry?

The best advice I can offer is this: find out if this is what you want to do before you jump head first into this industry. This industry is not always about becoming rich and famous, but rather, serving guests. Most people entering the world of culinary arts are aiming to become a chef the moment they walk out of school with a degree, and I understand that. But, as a restaurant owner, I’m a chef, I’m a line cook, I’m a grill cook, I’m garde manager, I’m the inventory guy, I make coffee, I do dishes, I bus tables, so on and so forth. I’m capable, and willing to do the work, because that is what is involved with being in the service industry.

88% of restaurant employees are proud to work in the restaurant industry. What makes you most proud to be a part of the foodservice industry?

It’s an amazing feeling, being really good in this industry, and if you are, and you enjoy it, it makes you proud. I am certainly proud, because I produce the best food, with the best local ingredients that I can source to serve people my vision of great food. I don’t tone my food down for anyone. I make it the way I enjoy it, and my customers know this. So for them to follow me and support me, it definitely gives me a sense of pride.

What are you future plans?

My future plans include working towards creating a small, completely sustainable restaurant in the heart of Oklahoma City.

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From local bistros to national chains, restaurants play an essential role in shaping communities and neighborhoods across the nation, and creating opportunities for people everywhere.  To celebrate the “best of the best” in diversity and inclusion, community service and hospitality leadership, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) announced today the 2017 Restaurant Neighbor, Faces of Diversity and Ambassador of Hospitality award winners.
 

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