CEF Stories: Copeland's Chef Christopher Elsaesser
Aug 24, 2015 03:42PM ● Published by Dia
My first job in the hospitality business was in 1991 at the age of fifteen. I bussed tables, washed dishes, and shucked oysters for a very busy seafood restaurant.
A year later I went to work for a pizzeria where I learned to make pizza. I found that job very lonely always stuck in the back of the house not talking to anyone just focusing on topping and cooking pizzas. Sooner than later I wanted to become a server so I could engage guests and become part of a new culture in the restaurant business.
I always imagined being a general manager of a restaurant at the peak of my career since I didn't care too much for a formal college training path.
In 1998 while I was waiting tables in Austin, TX my father told me that his life-long dream of being a restaurant owner was becoming a reality and he needed my help operating it in Bedford, Texas. I quickly assumed the role as operator and chief cook and bottle washer while my mother and father still had their full time jobs besides the family diner. I evolved our simple menu into more regional specialties and found my calling in the back of the house. We were positively reviewed by the Dallas Morning News twice and The Fort Worth Star-Telegram three times for our food.
While still working at our restaurant I finished up college courses at El Centro College in Dallas and received my degree in the Culinary Arts. I went to work for Hyatt Hotels and was determined to learn every aspect of the kitchen from catering, pastry shop, restaurant fine-dining and purchasing.
In 2012 I became the Executive Chef for the Hilton in Southlake where I continue to personally engage our guests and customize any menu for any occasion always focused on supreme food quality and modern presentation. I am more proud than ever to be a department leader for a hotel that was ranked #1 out of 288 hotels in North and South America for being the best Hilton in 2014 based on guest surveys!