Vegas Platelist: Chef David Walzog

Although he enjoys his work, Walzog said that balancing his life away from work has its challenges. He attributes his ability to juggle his career and personal life to being able to count on the people around him. "You have to have everybody on the same page, working really hard to do the same thing and then it doesn't become so daunting," he said. Walzog said that as a manager, he operates in 'overdrive,' putting in plenty of hours on top of a diligent system of the kitchen setup, menu and operating methods. But he doesn't let work rule his life, he said. "It's business and it's got to work for you as much as you work for it. "

Walzog draws heavily from that sense of teamwork that initially drew him to a career in food. "These days you have to understand all dynamics to restaurants to be successful," he said, adding that he felt fortunate to have had mentors early in his career. "I worked for a guy in a kitchen who was a superstar when it came to food, but also really had a deft hand at working with the staff and kind of pulling out the best of them and inspiring them to move on," he said. Walzog said he continues to draw from those kitchen management skills to this day. "You have to look back on your past experiences… because you've learned a lot. Your past experiences, they mold your thought process. So you want to use those to really round out yourself," he said.

Walzog also draws on past experiences to make his business successful as well and said he paid attention to business and money management in addition to learning about guests and hospitality. "Quite frankly a restaurant doesn't necessarily turn huge amounts of profit," he said, listing off the numerous things one needs to consider: staff, ingredient costs, surrounding costs, labor, payroll, all while ensuring the personalities of the staff in the kitchen and the dining room work to meet the standard for the number one priority, the guest. Ultimately, he said, "you're working for the best interest of the guests in having a great time and a great meal and a great experience... You have to work all those things at all different angles to ultimately do all things to all people and still make money."

Walzog admits the pace can be exhausting. "The consistency, the relentlessness of it, is the tiring part, but again you've got to mentally separate at times... Because when you're there, you're really piling it on 110 percent if not more," he said. Walzog said it's critical for he and his staff to take a break every now and then so when they return to work, they're ready to give their all. "When the lights are on... it's a Broadway kind of thing. Lights are on for four hours. You're on stage," he said. He said he instructs the staff, "The motors have got to be in fifth gear - going hard, having fun, smile on your face... that's the relentless part. So if you don't check yourself for a couple hours, you'll not have enough or you won't be in the right place to give it for five and a half. "

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