The Importance of Learning and Mentorship


Rich Products has a culture of learning, and embraces continuous learning for all associates.  In my position as Manager-Culinary Learning and Development, it is my responsibility to provide learning opportunities for not only Rich’s Associates, but also for our customers, food service professionals, and culinary students. I have been an active member of the NYSRAEF for 10 years, acting as mentor, coach, and judge for ProStart Competition teams, and am currently the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Foundation.  The NYSRAEF’s main objective is the monitoring, and development of the ProStart Program in New York State.  Over the years I have had the opportunity to work with many talented high school culinary students who will shape the future of the hospitality industry.

     Throughout my career, I have worked in many types operations, some experiences being better than others, but each one offered a unique learning opportunity.  However, working in our family’s restaurant at an early age, completing a course in Food Service Administration at a local Community College, and then graduating from The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, I had the solid foundation necessary to succeed in the world of food, and beverage, and hospitality.  Today, I feel fortunate that I can help young culinary students build their own foundations so that they too can succeed in this great Industry.

We have all had people in our lives that have made a positive impact, and inspired us in our careers.  That person for me was the late Charlie Trotter.  Chef Trotter’s philosophy was one of hospitality, and generosity, which was the cornerstone of his business.  He also believed that the development of his team was a product of his leadership.  He often said that the job of a great leader was to develop future leaders.  Through my work with the NYSRAEF, and the ProStart students, I have had the opportunity to help develop future leaders.

Jake Brach is Manager-Culinary Learning and Development at Rich Products Corporation, a global, family owned food manufacturer headquartered in Buffalo, NY.  Jake is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America-Hyde Park, and a member of the CIA Alumni Association.  He is an ACF Certified Chef de Cuisine, and has worked in several Michelin Starred kitchens.  Jake is a native of Western New York, an advocate for the Farm to Table movement, and is the author of “The Sustainable Chef-Cooking with the Farmers of New York State”.