Chef Bob Snow, Area Manager for College Chefs goes back to his first experience in the kitchen at four years old. On a Sunday afternoon he remembers being in the kitchen with his mom rolling crackers to put into the meatloaf. From rolling crackers to a certified executive chef, Chef Bob has quite the experience and personality that College Chefs look for in a professional staff.
A Journey Begins
Starting out at 15 years old, Bob started working in steak houses. Like most chefs starting out early in their careers, Bob was gaining any experience he could in the kitchen. By the time Bob was 21, he decided that he did not want to be a cook for the rest of his life. Looking to get into a management career, Bob soon learned he could not achieve a career in management without an Associates degree. Bob chose to turn in his cooking utensils for wrenches and bolts. He attended the American Motorcycle Institute to be a motorcycle mechanic. “That didn’t pan out very well,” Bob laughs as he mentions his once hopeful career change. Not able to find a job as a motorcycle mechanic in central Illinois, Bob turned back to a trade he knew best--food.
In one of the largest cities in Illinois, Bob found himself working at a country club in Decatur. With the help of his brother-in-law, he was able to get more experience cooking than he had prior. “It was more than just flipping steaks and cooking potatoes,” he says as he explains his job at the country club. It was not like working at any old steak house. “Once that’s in your blood, there is no getting it out,” he mentions of his rekindled love for the food industry. Bob worked and gained knowledge at the country club, but he soon found himself at the Ramada Renaissance Hotel in Springfield, Illinois following a fellow chef from the country club. Trying to find where he belonged, Bob went back to private clubs, in which he nominates as the biggest part of his cooking career. Bob’s first job as an executive chef was at a private club called the Island Bay Yacht Club in Springfield, Illinois.
Then, in the early ‘90s he went back to Decatur, Illinois to the same country club. Now, holding positions such as Sous-chef and a line cook. By 1995 he managed to get certified by the American Culinary Federation as an executive chef. Finally, finding himself in Champaign, Illinois, Bob went to Lincolnshire Fields Country Club where he was executive chef for 13 years. As his last job before College Chefs, Bob worked for Hawthorn Suits in Champaign, Illinois. “I would work multiple functions at the same time,” he mentions as he explains his job as an executive chef where he would cook for weddings, banquets and more all at the same time.
Turning a New Fork
Bob became familiar with College Chefs when some people within the industry mentioned the new company. “I looked them up, did some research and I got an interview,” he says with confidence. After interviewing with Kevin Gadus, founder and owner of College Chefs, Bob got the job. Bob started off at the Fiji house where he cooked for 40 to 50 men. This was nothing new for Bob. In fact, his main concern was not cooking for 50 men, it was figuring out what College Chefs expected of him. College Chefs is a different “animal”--as Bob would call it. College Chefs is unlike any company he’s worked for, but in a good way. “You get to be more creative and do a lot more when there are fewer people,” he says. As he mentions this he also mentions that he finds himself thinking about meals as if he was a 20-year-old. “You have to think, what would they like,” he says. There are varying types cliental but College Chefs does offer events that include more of Bob’s expertise. “The philanthropy events are more along my lines of what I am use to,” he says.
Now, as an Area Manager for College Chefs, it is safe to say that Bob has proven himself to be a devoted employee. College Chefs prides itself on outstanding customer service and Bob thrives on teaching this value to his chefs-in-training. “There is a fine line--you need to be personable but not too personal,” he says as he talks about the importance of getting to know the residents and what they like and don’t like. Bob’s friendly, out-going personality is evident as he speaks of his training and his efforts to be a mentor to the chefs he trains. Bob gains respect from his fellow chefs by working with them--not above them. “A lot of chefs have the motto, ‘do as I say, not as I do,’ and I am not that type of chef,” he says proudly.
French trained, Bob is known for his famous baby-back ribs and Demi-glace, but he also enjoys playing video games and building his own machines. “I like to tune the machines and make them better,” he says. It has been a journey for Bob and a compelling one at that. With years of experience and brief career change it has made Bob the successful chef and trainer that he is today. Bob admires the management team’s knowledge and how far College Chefs has come in just four years. He also plans on growing with them in the future. “I am not sure what I’ll be doing for them in the fall but I will hopefully become a Regional Supervisor one day,” he says of future plans with College Chefs. Bob says with a sense of eagerness, “The farther College Chefs grows, the farther I can grow with them.”
By Ashley Skoczylas
UPDATE: Fall 2016, Bob was promoted to Area Manager