“My advice to people interested in getting into the restaurant industry is to know what you’re getting into with the hours and dedication required. Find a way to stay sane amongst the craziness because it’s easy to find yourself start to not enjoy what you’re doing. You have to realize why you’re doing what you’re doing or you’ll get lost.”
Purpose. Calling. Vocation. Each person is on a quest to find what they are meant to do in life. For Sous Chef Alan Nguyen, knowing where he belonged was easy.
“I’m drawn to the craziness of the kitchen,” Alan says. “Originally, I thought I was going to be a dentist, but I can’t imagine doing anything else. I like the adrenaline rush of getting ready on time for service, being creative, and encouraging the people around you.”
After working in a few different restaurants on the mainland and taking on management positions in the kitchen, Alan has learned a lot about what it means to work with others and lead a team. In each kitchen that he worked in, Alan was able to work under different types of chefs, and by observing each one’s style, he was able to discover the type of manager he strives to be.
“I had a chef that expected his team to be calm, collected, and fair. I never saw him flustered, and he pushed people in a positive way,” Alan says. “But I’ve also had chefs that are the opposite. They will ride the wave of emotion. I know I can work with that, but I hated that. I don’t want the people I work with to feel that way. I put myself in their shoes, and I know it’s not worth it to hit something or slam something just because you’re upset or stressed out.”
As a manager and a leader in the kitchen, Alan’s goal is to be fair to his team. He defines fair as knowing when praise is deserved, being void of double-standards, and having and expressing clear expectations of his team. Additionally, being fair does not mean being easy or being a pushover.
“If you don’t push others, you’ll have a mediocre team,” Alan says. “I want to be relatable and honest. I want to lead by example. I wouldn’t tell someone to do something that I am not willing or able to do myself.”
Alan’s culinary journey has led him to Alan Wong’s Honolulu as a sous chef.
“At this age, I want to take advantage of learning as much as I can,” he says. “I want to learn how to oversee a team and how it affects morale and performance as a whole.”
The team at Alan Wong’s Honolulu appreciates Alan’s dedication and commitment to learning, and we are thankful that he has chosen to continue his journey with us.