By Guest Blogger, Colleen McKie, CIR/CDR Sr Recruiter Sodexo Talent Acquisition Group
The 12th post in our Recruiter Series that features the specific environments we hire for and what it takes to succeed.
As a Recruiter with Sodexo for 10 years, I’ve had the opportunity to hire many talented Food Service Professionals and have been bitten by the “foodie” bug. While I am not a culinarian, I LOVE watching all the Chef shows on TV. I am proud that Sodexo chefs are some of the top culinarians in the country, achieving success outside of work too! Not only do many enjoy competing in national and international culinary competitions, they also enjoy mentoring through programs like Sodexo Future Chefs.
As Sodexo prepares for the American Culinary Federation National Conference (ACF) in Kansas City, MO later this week, we connected with one of our top culinarians to discuss how Sodexo and ACF has impacted his professional career – including competing AND mentoring.
Sodexo Executive Chef, Ed Cao CEC, was recently featured in
the ACF newsletter talking about his culinary career. We met up with Chef Cao to talk about his
experience as an Executive Chef and how Sodexo has played a role in his
culinary path throughout the last 17 years.
Phuong “Ed” Cao competes in the Iron Chef
competition at the Sodexo Chefs Conference in Atlanta.
Phuong “Ed” Cao was born and raised in Saigon, Vietnam - the 10th out of 11th kid. His family came to the US as refugees. To help the family, he started working at the age of 15 at local hotels and restaurants while attending high school. He and his mother started a successful catering business when he was just 18.
Q: Who first inspired you?
A: My mother was the first person who inspired me to cook. I remember wondering how she took so few ingredients and created delicious dishes, as if by magic. I learned an important lesson from her: when cooking, always start with fresh ingredients and cook from the heart. Even now, I am happiest when I cook side by side with her!
Q: How has Sodexo assisted you in your professional development and in your desire to mentor and compete?
A: Sodexo inspired me to further my certifications and to build a greater culinary foundation. I found exceptional leadership in my management team, who supported my willingness to excel to become a Certified Executive Chef, Certified Culinary Administrator and Culinary Nutrition Food Certified. Despite the social nature of what we do, chefs can become isolated by the daily demands of the operation. Certification and ACF membership created networking opportunities that opened doors to new career pathways and showed me how to believe in myself during fierce competitions. The most fulfilling aspect is that I found a love of teaching and mentoring as result of the certification process!
Q: What can you share for someone seeking a culinary career path with Sodexo?
A: Because Sodexo gives their employees opportunities to learn and grow your career, it’s a place you can call home for your entire career. The partnership with the ACF was built to help you prepare for your certification and advance your culinary skills and expertise. The ACF actively participates and provides guidance to Sodexo during Expertise in Action, a Spirit of Mentoring program, where chefs mentor other employees who are interested in obtaining their certifications.
Additionally, the Sodexo Culinary Board partners with Talent Acquisition for a three-part webinar series aimed at career advancement. Employees who participate in the webinar series earn continuing education credits that are recognized by the ACF towards recertification.
Want to learn more? Sodexo will be at this years’ National ACF Conference in Kansas City, MO. Stop by our Trade Show booth #321 starting this Sunday to talk with top Sodexo Chefs and our recruitment team, Suzanne Thompson, Trisha Gary and myself. Please join our Talent Community and tell us a little about yourself today!