As the executive chef at the Londonhouse Chicago, Verstegen oversees the tri-level rooftop restaurant, the hotel’s lobby restaurant Bridges, 25,000 square feet of banquet space and room service.
What is the most pressing challenge you’ve faced on the job in the last year? How did you resolve it?
Opening the LondonHouse was by far the most challenging thing I have ever done. I was the chef de cuisine going into opening and the executive chef and food & beverage director gave his notice less than a month after we opened. I assumed his role in the kitchen and went from operating a single-service rooftop restaurant to also overseeing a second restaurant, banquets and room service. It was a learning experience to be sure, operating several kitchens and setting up systems during a very busy opening season. I wouldn’t recommend it. Resolving the problem was just about getting organized, writing prep lists, order guides, standardizing recipes for all the outlets and training. Mostly training, standing next to the cooks and walking them through everything step by step so when I wasn’t there I was confident they could execute it.