Here at Gracie’s Venture, we have upwards of 60 employees. Each month, we interview members of the team to get an inside look on how the Venture functions. I had the pleasure of speaking with Dante Foggy, a newer member of our team. Here’s his inside look!
By Kelly Doran
Dante, what is your function here at Gracie’s Venture?
I am one of the breakfast and lunch line cooks of Ellie’s bakery.
Tell me a little bit about yourself! What do you do for fun?
I’m from South Jersey, and growing up my mom taught me to be very family oriented, My culture is an important part of my make up- and I draw inspiration from food as I am Dominican and African American. I feel like the most fun I have outside the kitchen is watching good movies and hanging out with friends. Growing in New Jersey I grew up in a multicultural community which shaped my sense of food eating traditional dominican food of my heritage while also enjoying Italian and German cuisines as well.
My culture at home affected my cooking style in that everytime I cook I try to envision that I am cooking for my small family. It doesn’t matter how hard my day is going on the line I can calm myself and cook to my best ability by envisioning my family, our guests and peers enjoying my food.
When I was young, my mother would make roasted garlic wings and spanish rice. It was the melting of simple cooking method with the complexity of spice and herbs that resonates to my cooking today. My mother is my biggest inspiration and she loves that I am following my dreams. For me, my life is cooking, family, and Ellie’s Bakery.
What drove you to pursue a career in the hospitality industry?
When I was a freshman, I had the honor to be accepted into a vocational high school in which had one of the best culinary programs in New jersey. Those formative years grinding and growing in the basics showed me what it took to be a chef in the industry. Being able to go to the vocational school was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself and my career .Half my day was cooking and learning about agriculture while the other half was learning in an environment with others pursuing their dreams and trades.The thing that made it click for me that this was the industry for me was in my junior year of high school I was blessed with the opportunity to win Teen Chopped on the Food Network. This opened the doors to the start to my whole career. This also made me also realize I had a gift for cooking.
Where will you be in 5 years? In 10 years?
In the next 5 years I want to learn more as a person and travel and cook in different cities around the country. In 10 years i see myself running a kitchen using the knowledge I acquired from those cities to help inspire me to be an overall better chef. In the future,I see myself running a kitchen that serves and is inspired by the African American South and Latina foods in a restaurant that fully represents and celebrates the fact that in all cultures, food is a way of touching the soul. I want to use what I’ve learned in my travels to cook for the mass public.
If you could pick any career in the world ,what would it be?
If I could do anything in the world besides cooking, truthfully I, would want to be a football coach, or a coach of some kind. I think the game is bigger than what it seems and I find that there is a motivating aspect to the game, which inspires me. Also, I find that every chef is motivated by his or her own journey to find what makes them happy in life and they bring that to their food. For me its to break down the walls of the industry and make sure all people can afford and taste quilty food in their everyday life. Motivation is the driving force behind Coaching, cooking, teaching and learning.
What is the most rewarding part of being of Gracie’s Venture?
For me, the greatest part of Venture is the behind the scenes aspect-you learn that it’s not just a job, it’s not just a gig- it’s a place where business and family meet. Gracie’s Venture is more like a family. Being able to cook alongside other talented Chef’s and cooks is also very rewarding for me. Being a part of something bigger than myself, and watching out guests smile as they taste their food.