Building Our Team
Building “Team Vanillamore” has been a top priority for the last 3 YEARS! From the very beginning, our focus has always been on being surrounded by right team, as I’ve written about a bit in previous blog posts. While this has been instrumental in getting us to this point, it's now time to build the team that will run Vanillamore’s daily operations.
In the next couple of weeks, we will be posting new job openings, but now I’m excited to introduce you to our first Vanillamore employee!
Jason Herrschaft is our Manager! Jason and I graduated from Wayne Hills High School the same year. He went to the Culinary Institute of America right out of high school, and I transferred there 2 years later. When I started at the CIA, it was very nice to have a familiar face around Apple Pie Bakery & Cafe, where Jason was the Manager In Training and I was a student and then a cashier. Now, almost 7 years later, we’ve reconnected.
Jason has been on board since the beginning of April, working with me on finalizing equipment, smallwares and tableware, as well as operations, hiring plans and menu development. I am very excited to have Jason on our team and I know that he has so much to add to Vanillamore! Scroll down to read our “get to know you” interview with Jason.
Building Out Our Space
We have officially started construction - the countdown to opening is on! I will write more about the actual construction project as we go.
In addition to the build-out, my husband and I have been doing several mini construction projects on the weekends. We are making wood plates to serve s’mores on, shelving to display retail items on and a counter for the cash register. Let’s be real, he’s doing 99% of the work, and I’m sanding pieces until I get one too many splinters and move on to something else. I’d be lost without his help, and he gets to buy all of the power tools he’s ever wanted so it’s win-win, right?!
Here are some photos of the progress we’ve made!
Making the s'mores 'flight' plates:
This massive piece of tree will eventually become a beautiful retail display. He even makes CAD renderings so that I'll know what the final piece will look like!
And finally, a sneak peak at some framed walls! Can't wait to make those red walls purple!
Here’s a bit more about Jason:
Risa: What is your culinary background?
Jason: My family has always been active in the kitchen and making desserts with my mother is what inspired me to start thinking about becoming a chef as a career. Everyone in my family is a good cook, but it was about my junior year in high school that I wanted to go to culinary school and make it my future.
R: When did you know you wanted to attend the CIA?
J: I decided on the CIA during my senior year of high school after searching through colleges. It was the only culinary school that was also an accredited institution and it is one of the best culinary schools as well.
R: Why have you gravitated towards working in the front of the house and not the back?
J: While attending the CIA, as a student I worked at the Apple Pie Bakery & Cafe, one of the schools restaurants. While I was working there, I decided that the front of the house was more to my liking. I still love the back of the house, as that is the reason why I went to the CIA in the first place. That knowledge is incredibly valuable for FOH as well, but while working there I really enjoyed answering customers’ questions and making sure they had a memorable experience and an all around good time. After graduating, I participated in the school’s Manager in Training program at the cafe where it really solidified my passion for the FOH and helped me find my managerial style.
R: Why Vanillamore? What excites you about the differences between your previous roles vs this new role?
J: I decided to join the Vanillamore team because I followed Risa's brand progress on social media and when the position opened up, it was right in my wheelhouse. I'm excited to be a part of the entire operation, whether it be FOH or BOH, and being in a full managerial position. I love the idea of being in the front and then jumping in the back in an instant, a happy medium between both passions for FOH and BOH and frankly, a truly ideal position in a restaurant.
R: What challenges about opening a brand new concept excite you?
J: The entirety of opening a restaurant excites me. There will be many challenges and obstacles to overcome, but we'll overcome them and continue to learn and grow as we go. The most exciting part of this has to be proving the concept. While not the first dessert focused restaurant I've seen, it's a new concept for the area, which is exciting in itself, and be able to showcase it.
R: If you could dine with any chef, dead or alive, who would it be and what would you eat?
J: It would probably be Anthony Bourdain, because that would probably be the most interesting conversation I've ever had. We would have a multi-course meal of dishes I've never had before and he could explain what the dish is and everything about them.
R: What is your ideal day off?
J: My Ideal day off consists of mostly relaxing. Whether that is laying by the pool, sleeping in, or doing nothing in general. Then going out with friends, or if it’s during the summer months, firing up the grill.
R: What’s your go-to dessert to make? To eat?
J: My go-to dessert to make is either my carrot cake, or my CRAB cake, which is my chocolate, raspberry and balsamic cake. My go-to dessert to eat would be rice pudding.