Interview with Aidan Waite, owner of The English Connection

By: Melinda Russell

Name: Aidan Waite, CFSP, MCFE

Company: The English Connection

Job title: Owner / Executive Chef

Education: Apprenticeship for Chef in England and France, Associate Degree in Hotel and Catering Management

 

How did you hear about culinology?
I first heard the terminology back in England in the early eighties, there were Companies in Europe that were looking at the Science of Food and the understanding of freshness and nutritious qualities. At this time Sous Vide was being introduced and created a new form of cooking, we went from everything being cooked at certain temperatures with no variance and for longer periods of time in order to pasteurize the product.

When did you first join RCA?
1994, signed up by the Founder Pops Hahne

How have you seen RCA grow and evolve since then?
It has become a true Culinary Organization, when it was first started it was as an alternative to the American Culinary Federation and to recognize Research Chefs. Up to this point there had not been much respect given for this area of the Culinary field. Now all Food Companies, Restaurant Chains and other Food Producers have their own R and D Chef.

What has been your involvement in RCA since joining?
Not as much as I would like, I have been involved in the meeting side in the past and have helped to set up seminars and events. Being self-employed makes it hard a lot of the time to commit to long periods of time with any Association. I have tried to be a mentor where possible my whole career and I have found that is where I can do the most good.

What’s a normal day at your job?
No easy answer for this, my company is a Culinary Consulting Company with three major contracts and multiple short term and one off contracts. With a company called RATIONAL I am responsible for all their military business so where that is concerned it includes travel to military bases and Naval Bases all over the USA, this year also took me to a US Naval Base in Japan. So where they are concerned it can be Conference Calls, training or creating SOP’s for them. This can be a twenty four hour commitment sometime as I will have a Conference Call with multiple time zones.

My second major contract is Sealed Air (Cryovac), with them I am continuously working on menu development and testing of products using the Vacuum Packing cooking methods

My third major contract is the Carolina Panthers, I am the Executive Chef at their Training Camp and obviously for a four to five week period I literally disappear…

Then I have one off items I am working on, for example Restaurant Design, Menu Development, Training Manuals, Them Concepts, Business Plans and anything else needed to get a facility started.

So as you can see my day usually starts at 7 am and then finishes when it finishes.. LOL.. The great thing I can say my days are always interesting.

What do you look for when scouting young talent?
Passion, Passion, Passion… I want to see it in your eyes and hear it in your voice. Anyone can say the words but it takes more, especially in our field. In some cases you just know, my favorite story is about a young Chef here in Charlotte named Joe Kindred. Myself and two other Chefs 14 or 15 years ago were judging a High School Competition, occasionally you will see a good young Culinarian but in this case I walked in the back and saw Joe. This kid was a natural, there was an aura about him you just could not explain what it was… 15 years later he owns a restaurant in Davidson, NC that is getting National recognition and he is up for a James Beard award.

I try to see into the future through their eyes and help them look for all the good moments.

Any advice for those graduating soon?
First of all enjoy your time in College and take advantage of every moment. Your first job should not be your final job, whatever you do you will change direction so find the job you feel most comfortable with. Enjoy your life and enjoy what you do, do not be afraid to change and move forward. At the beginning do not revolve what you do around money, if you do you will fail.

What is your favorite food?
Hot Dogs, especially a really good Kosher Hot Dog and also the German Sausages. I also am a big fan of anything Classical French which was my original training, so lots of butter and cream

What is your favorite thing to do when you are not working?
Spend time with my wife, going to our house in the mountains, reading, listening to music and walking whenever possible,

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