Meet Chef David Slay – Park Avenue & Il Garage
David Slay is the Chef and Managing Partner of Park Avenue and Il Garage in Stanton, CA., as well as one of our apprenticeship partners. He has been called “brilliantly innovative” and enjoys a well-earned reputation as one of the most creative chefs in the world of food and entertaining. Where the acclaimed Park Ave is all steaks and chops and American cuisine, Il Garage has a simple Italian menu that changes daily. Like Park Ave, though, many of the ingredients come from the garden Slay planted on the property when he first opened Park Ave. Learn more about Chef David here:
What age did you start cooking?
I started to cook at the very young age of 11, and have been cooking ever since!
When did you decide that you wanted to do it for a living?
I started my business in an old Dairy Queen as a take out pizza and pasta restaurant at 18 years old, then changed to sit down dining after a few years.
Where did you go to culinary school?
Self taught, staged in Paris at Beauvillier, Versaille at Trois Marche for 3 months.
Tell us about your apprenticeship experience – where was it at and what did you learn most from it?
I learned that dedication and passion has to be there. Cooking is a demanding and high pressure job!
When did you open up your first restaurant? How did you learn the business side of the restaurant?
The business side has been a continuous experience. I have learned from a lot of mistakes and those mistakes have made me more successful each time.
How have you seen restaurants change throughout the years?
The restaurant business is just that…a business. It used to be good food and good service brought a good amount of people. It has become a dog and pony show along with a marketing job.
What do you look for when hiring new employees?
A work history, not someone who jumps around.
How difficult is it to find good employees?
Has this changed over the years?
Yes, the fascination with cooking is still strong but the sexiness of working 60 hours a week for not a lot of money is a killer.
What advice do you have for an aspiring chef?
Be prepared to endure a lot of work, take in as much as you can, learn excel to the max and you’ll be surprised how many chefs with business sense are needed.
Who has been your biggest mentor?
My dad… he worked hard, never complained, didn’t always cash his check and it did not take away from his love for the business.