A resident of Ames, Iowa, and a fan of baseball, Shaun Reints, Executive Chef for College Chefs, has an interesting path to success. As a dedicated chef, Shaun takes pleasure in ensuring that his customers are happy (and well-fed).
A Step in the Right Direction
Chef Shaun’s journey began a little different from some chefs. Just a teenager, Shaun worked at a couple different family restaurants until he applied for an opening at a hotel in Ames, Iowa. He started off working as an opening cook. At the hotel in Ames he met one of his mentors, Chef Richard. Shaun explains that Chef Richard may have came off blunt, but it was for a reason. “He pushed me in the right direction to try new things,” he says. Seeing his cooking as just a job, Shaun learned from Chef Richard to love his profession. “He got me to enjoy what I was doing,” he says. After being a successful opening cook for two years, there became an opportunity for advancement. With many different changes in management, there was an opening for a sous chef. “I worked as hard as I could to take the position,” he says. Soon the hotel was sold to a management company and things changed for Shaun once again. All of the staff was informed that in order to stay on staff, they would need a college degree. Shaun knew he needed to attend culinary school at that point and he enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu in Scottsdale, Arizona. He explained that Scottsdale had a lot of restaurants with great food. “You could throw a penny and find a restaurant,” he joked.
Graduating with a degree in culinary arts in 2010, Chef Shaun went back home to Iowa but quickly moved again to Oregon for work. In Oregon he worked at the Hilton Hotel as an executive sous chef. With his experience and college paying off, he went to Waterloo, Iowa and was an executive chef at a private country club. One day Shaun found himself looking for other opportunities in the industry. He explains that he ran into a rarity within the industry when the ad read ‘nights, weekends and holidays off’. Not exactly sure what he was applying for, Shaun heard back from Director of Operations, Jake Sanders. Shaun was looking for more time with his family and College Chefs offered that perk. “That is not something you find in the culinary industry,” he says.
A Perfect Pairing
Being a chef for College Chefs seems to be the ideal job for Shaun. One of his favorite things about cooking for them is the satisfaction he gets from the residents. Shaun strives to make his customers happy. He goes back to what his mentor taught him. “It does not matter what you think of your food it is what the customer thinks,” he says of the advice he learned. Shaun’s residents are fond of his fresh baked breads that he cooks. “We bake a lot of breads in-house from dinner rolls to loafs of bread,” he says. Chef Shaun also enjoys to cook soups. When cooking he thinks about all of the things he has cooked for people. “Special requests, anniversary dinners and different cuisines are moments that inspire me,” he says. He enjoys getting people to try new things. When talking about his job with College Chefs, it was evident that he believes in the company because they care about him. At first he was faced with challenges, but talking with management, who are also chefs, he went from being scared of his job to loving it. “I had a general manager tell me years ago that the most important person that walks through the door is the employee and that is how College Chefs treats their chefs,” he says proudly.
When Shaun is not in his clients' kitchen, he is in the kitchen at home. The devoted, single father of four, is a mentor to his one daughter that aspires to be like him. He is able to guide her in the right direction, just as his mentor did.
Update: Following a year of service with the Gamma Phi Beta sorority at the University of Iowa (where he is still an icon), Chef Shaun was promoted to a Supervisor covering all of College Chefs' clients in the state of Iowa and some surrounding campuses.
By Ashley Skoczylas