NRAEF : Blog

Back to School Educator Highlight- Nick Brandler

by | Sep 13, 2021 | Blog Post, ProStart

As we all transition back to school we reached out to one of our ProStart Program instructors about the new school year ahead. Nick Brandler has been teaching ProStart for seven years at San Dimas High School, and this year began his eighth. When we asked him what lesson he is looking forward most to teaching this year, he said, “Mise en Place, it’s very important, and is what separated most cooks from professionals.”

Nick spent close to 20 years in the restaurant industry before becoming a ProStart instructor. He has spent time working in almost every front-of-house position in restaurants, hotels, catering, and banquets such as deli clerk/dishwasher, busboy, server, host, bartender, maître d’, bar manager, restaurant manager, and general manager. 

Experience

Nick’s knowledge of this industry has all come from experience. He did not attend culinary school or worked any back-of-house position other than a dishwasher. When he came into the industry, he was immediately drawn to the front-of-house atmosphere as Nick is a true people person and greatly enjoys customer service and guest interaction. Nick has loved cooking for as long as he can remember. He spends a lot of his free time studying culinary techniques, foods, cooking methods, and international cuisines. Cooking has always been a huge part of Nick’s life. Nick’s favorite part of working in the restaurant industry was how it never really felt like work. He also loves the rush of a busy service. He says, “It’s precisely controlled chaos. It’s an adrenaline rush, and it’s addicting. The feeling you get after you and your team crushed it on a busy night is indescribable.” He truly enjoys serving people and making them happy! Nick says, “food brings people together, that’s why family gatherings always end up with everyone talking in the kitchen. Food gives us a feeling of comfort.” Nick finds that the skills he learned in hospitality apply everywhere in life. He enjoys making people feel welcome and comfortable and seeing them spending time with each other and making memories. 

This School Year

Nick gives some advice to students as they start the school year. He says, “always give 100%, even when you think nobody is watching.” He truly believes this is the path to success. He says that you need to give your full effort in everything you do, and your efforts will be noticed. He encourages students to set achievable goals, reach those goals, and set new ones. Nick says to constantly soak up knowledge and obsess over your craft while always improving. He says, ”you will become stronger in every way, and more successful. Be humble.”

Advice

Nick encourages students to find out what they can be good at, and what makes them happy, as early as possible. Nick says if you do what brings you happiness, then work never feels like work. Nick says, “choose a path where you know you can crush it and make a run at being the best.” Nick says to work hard and be willing to work your tail off, even if it’s unpaid because interning and staging can lead to incredible opportunities. Having experience, expanding knowledge, and honing in on a craft are of the utmost importance. He also encourages students to find a mentor! Someone that you respect as a professional and as a person, who is willing to share their knowledge and experience with you. Nick says when you have someone who is able to answer questions, guide you, and give you advice. Nick says this is why he teaches. He likes being able to be a mentor and guide young people to finding their purpose in life. He feels like he is doing something with true meaning because in ProStart you can change someone’s life. 

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