To find out how it’s done, I spoke to someone who has made a career out of top-level hospitality -- John Winterman. Front-of-house resumes don’t get much more impressive: He worked at Charlie Trotter, Gary Danko, and for nine years as maître d’ of Daniel and Café Boulud. In 2014, he left to open Michelin-starred Bâtard in Tribeca, as managing partner.
Winterman grew up in Indiana, eating “well balanced meals of overcooked meats and canned vegetables.” His childhood was not spent savoring fancy cuisine. In his home, “food was not necessarily cooked but opened and heated.” So when he headed to college in Bloomington, Indiana, and tried kimchi and sushi for the first time, he was astonished -- and hooked.
Two things drew Winterman to a career in fine dining. First was his growing fascination with top-end food and wine. Second, he “never wanted to be anywhere at 9am. Restaurant life is conducive to that goal.”