April 29, 2014

Community Spotlight: Hosea Rosenberg of Blackbelly Catering & Market

Photo credit (Blackbelly Catering)

You may recognize Chef Hosea Rosenberg from his season five win of Bravo’s TV hit, Top Chef. Five years later and not one to sit idle, Rosenberg is busy as ever as chef/owner of an expanding catering business, Blackbelly Catering; a farm (also bearing the Blackbelly moniker); on the cusp of opening a restaurant, market, and butcher shop. With Blackbelly Market slated to open this summer, Rosenberg is on the hunt for good help. Naturally he made a visit to Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts to spread the word and talk about his experiences as a “top chef.” In case you missed it, here we share how you can get involved, which positions he is looking to hire, and what – from the Head Chef himself – constitutes an ideal employee.

Escoffier: We hear that Escoffier students have opportunities to assist at Blackbelly events…
Rosenberg: Our immediate need is help with some of our catering gigs, which are a mix of private dinners, corporate events, and farm dinners. I am looking for people to assist with prep and service. Blackbelly is very farm-to-table, very seasonal, and features a lot of meats from our own farm. Catering consists of all one-off, individual events. And then in the summer we do a ton of weddings. We do really high-end restaurant-quality cuisine off site.

Photo credit (Blackbelly Catering)

Escoffier: Do students need past experience to volunteer?
Rosenberg: I don’t need a lot of experience as I pretty much show them what they need to do. What is more important to me is good attitude, strong work ethic, and someone who will do whatever is asked of them (even if it seems like a tedious job like peeling shrimp or potatoes – it is still something that needs to be done).

Escoffier: Tell us about your next venture, Blackbelly Market.
Rosenberg: It will be a butcher shop, market, and restaurant all together. The butcher shop/market will be in the front entrance holding a butcher counter and cold cases with retail butcher cuts and grab-and-go food (deli sandwiches, salads, ready-to-eat foods). The next section – beyond the market – is the actual restaurant. It’s going to be pretty simple with an understated design and a lot of open kitchen space. It will be very transparent with a real emphasis on craftsmanship. It will have a very masculine feeling; [the inspiration] is a cross between Old World butcher shop and modern industrial.

Escoffier: How did Blackbelly Market come to be?
Rosenberg: I’ve been talking about doing some kind of market/butcher shop in Boulder for a very long time. I’ve been poking around looking for the right space, but then two and half years ago I started the catering business and the farm. That business has grown to the point where I needed a bigger kitchen. While looking for a commissary kitchen I found this space and I realized it was built really well to do the market idea…and then it evolved into seating. So it has evolved from just a commissary kitchen to a market to full blown restaurant. I’ve decided to go a little bit bigger with it.

Photo credit (Blackbelly Catering)

Escoffier: What are your hiring needs for the restaurant?
Rosenberg: I’ll be hiring in about two months or so (June) as the place gets close to being open. We’ll be hiring prep cooks, line cooks, servers, and people helping with the butchery and farm programs. For the culinary/farm liaisons we will need trained cooks who are going back and forth between farm and restaurant literally picking produce that day for the restaurant. We will ultimately have breakfast, lunch, and dinner – a lot of shifts! The prep cooks will also be prepping for the catering events as well. I also need catering cooks for off-site events, small and large.

Escoffier: Are your needs different when hiring catering versus restaurant cooks?
Rosenberg: It’s pretty [similar] as far as needs go. Some people have really gravitated toward the catering; they enjoy the energy that catering brings. It is a challenge every time; sometimes we are outside or in a home. Other people like the routine of their station [in a kitchen] and knowing what is in the drawers. And then some people like to mix it up. I’m hoping to find some versatile cooks. I’m casting a really wide net right now; we will fit the pieces as we need to.

Escoffier: If someone were hoping to land a job at Blackbelly Market, would you recommend volunteering at a catering event first?
Rosenberg: If they come in and do a few shifts with us and we are impressed with them, and then they graduate in a few months…that puts them at the top of the list for sure!

Escoffier: What advice would you give to someone seeking his or her first job?
Rosenberg: I worked for a chef years and years ago and he said to me, “I can pull any chef off the street and teach them a recipe, but I can’t teach a good attitude.” [Aside from a good attitude,] be present, look professional, and ready to work. You should come to an interview ready to work. I’ve had an instance where a cook didn’t show up and someone came in looking for work, and I asked, “Can you put on an apron right now?” A lot of people show up feeling entitled…there is no substitute of practical experience. You have to prove yourself first.