Serving the City: High School Program Leads to Career as Chef
WAITE PARK -- Servers and bartenders are the ones who interact with the customers in a restaurant, but it's back in the kitchen where all the magic happens.
Jordan Lenz is the head chef at Anton's in Waite Park. He got interested in cooking through the culinary program when he was at Sauk Rapids-Rice High School, from there he enrolled in the culinary program at the St. Cloud Technical and Community College.
He's been at Anton's for nearly 10 years starting out as a dishwasher, then he was promoted to kitchen manager, and is now their head chef.
He says it's the stress of the kitchen that he likes best.
Right now it's slower so not so much pressure or stress, but when it's really busy like before the pandemic, I just really like cooking for 300 people. The time flies with the pressure to get the food out and make sure it's good.
Lenz says it's just him back in the kitchen these days. Normally he'd be joined by a dishwasher, a prep cook, a four-man line, and someone making salads.
The holiday season is typically one of the busiest for bars and restaurants with a lot of Christmas parties, however, that of course is not the case this year. Lenz says his hours have been scaled back for several months now.
Here at Anton's they scaled back their hours pretty far, they used to be open seven days a week now we're just open Wednesday through Sunday just for dinner, so I get a lot of afternoons off.
Lenz says unemployment benefits supplement his income.
We caught up with him on Saturday afternoon at Aton's. He says the atmosphere these days is much different than a typical Saturday in December.
Last year in December I'd be pulling 65 hour weeks. We'd be busy during the week, even busier on the weekends. Right now it's just very slow. But, I'm happy to be here, happy to be employed, and happy to be cooking for the people of St. Cloud.
This story is part of our new series "Serving the City" featuring people who work full-time in the bar and restaurant industry. If you know someone we should feature let us know.