Owner and Chef, Big Tree Hospitality
Monday, February 27, 10:30 a.m.
Mike’s food and hospitality education began early: as a child, he frequently cooked alongside his mother and later took a job as a busboy. When Mike moved west to Colorado, he spent several formative years working in various restaurants to support his ski and study habit. Ultimately, he decided to pursue a career in the culinary field and moved back east in 2010 to join the team at Hugo’s, an enduring Portland standby that had evolved into a beacon of New England cuisine under the direction of chef/owner Rob Evans. After two years working under the award-winning Evans, Mike and his then colleagues, Andrew Taylor and Arlin Smith, purchased Hugo’s and established Big Tree Hospitality. The group has since opened two more restaurants, Eventide Oyster Co. and The Honey Paw, to regional and national acclaim, including a nomination for James Beard’s “Best Chef: Northeast” in 2015. These days, Mike has a hand in the culinary direction of all of Big Tree Hospitality’s properties, as well as the group’s continued evolution and growth.
The discussion will focus on how both marketing and operations can work together to recruit and retain employees. Specific topics include the challenges and advantages in staffing extremely busy suburban restaurants; the experiences and strategies as they relate to a medium-sized restaurant group in the Boston area; and the nuances of staff retention in a large multi-unit regional chain.