Cuisine Restaurant is the proud recipient of the 2024 Detroit Free Press Restaurant of the Year Classic. Our own Chef Paul Grosz is also the recipient of the 2024 Sylvia Rector Lifetime Achievement Award for Hospitality! Read more about it here.
Cuisine Restaurant has received the Restaurant of the Year Award by the Detroit Free Press
Meet Jordan Demchak, Cuisine’s New Sous Chef
March 5, 2024

There have been many interpretations of the famous Woody Allen quote, “ 80% of success is showing up”.

His meaning of the phrase, “showing up”, is that you have to put the time in.

Make the effort.

Have ambition.

Be “present”, in all meanings of the word.

Raise your hand, be in the moment. Have a purpose.

Be somebody.

Show up.

For Cuisine’s newest Sous Chef, Jordan Demchak, she’s been showing up, and, as a result, her success is showing up too.

Raised in Rochester, Michigan, Jordan’s rise to the kitchen of Cuisine Restaurant began with the thought of a career in graphic design.

We took a moment to get to know Jordan. Her passions, her goals and the person she is, and wants to be.

When did you first think about a career in the food service industry and what inspired you to do that?

“Well, during my junior year in high school, some of my friends were going to O-Tech, (Oakland School Technical Campus) it’s kinda like this small trade school. I thought it would be a great way to get out of my high school for a few hours’ day, and go to this different school. I started with a business class but after they asked me whether I wanted to build a computer, or take one apart I said…I don’t think this is for me! So, I switched to the culinary program. I loved it, I thought it was amazing. At first, I liked the baking part but I eventually just got more into the cooking. I even did some (culinary) competitions. I hadn’t cooked a lot before that. My parents didn’t cook a lot at home and my step dad eats a lot of ramen noodles, so I never learned much there. I never really thought of it as being like, a career path, but I knew I loved it. I got my first kitchen job at a little deli in downtown Rochester. It was rather short lived.”

You’re now attending Schoolcraft College and you’ve been a student of Chef Paul. What has that been like and why did you choose Schoolcraft College?

“I first I attended Oakland Community College and was in business classes. Then, I decided to go to culinary school and chose Schoolcraft. Now, I’ve done all my culinary classes but still work for the program as a Sous Chef for Chef Paul, and I’m also on the culinary salon team.

Technically, I’m graduating soon.”

What has it been like being a former student of Chef Paul, and the now, in a “real” world environment working for him here at Cuisine Restaurant?

“I feel like even at school, he treats it like you’re really at work. I always appreciated that. So, I don’t think there’s been too much of a difference. He’s the same person. Actually, he’s even more relaxed and open here at work.

Chef Paul’s class is really the only one (in the culinary program), that emulates working in a restaurant. So, you get an idea of working on the line, that this what it’s really like. The timing, the orders coming in. I knew I would like working for him.”

You mentioned that you’ve had some jobs working as a server in restaurants. Do you think that working as a server has helped you understand your role as a Sous Chef now that you’re in the “Back of the House”?

“Definitely… 100%, I think it’s easier to see how the front and back of the house flow together. I wanted to know how everything operates. It’s nice for it not to be so “divided” So that you can work together as a team.”

How did the whole conversation come about where Chef Paul asked you if you would be interested in being his Sous Chef?

“It really just happened naturally because I was already working for him at school as his Sous Chef there. As it turned out, I just started working here at Cuisine about the time that Mason, his previous Sous Chef, was leaving to work in New York City. So, it just fell into place.

It wasn’t unexpected. I feel like I typically go way above and beyond where ever I work so it was nice to have the recognition from him. But, it was never a sit-down conversation or anything like that. It just… happened?

In my mind though, I was VERY excited! For sure!”

Did you find that working in the “Big” city, here in Detroit was a bit intimidation at first?

“I actually moved downtown (Detroit), when I was 17 and I just moved back to Rochester this year so I’ve been working here in the city since I was pretty young. Of course, at first it was very intimidating. I was serving tables at some different restaurants, then I got my first “real” cooking job at the London Chop House. I was there for a couple years.”

So, where do you see yourself in 5 to 10 years?

“Just traveling? I just really want to travel. I love different international foods I love learning about different ingredients, different cooking techniques and cultures. So, at the end of this year, I’m moving to Thailand. I’m going to attend the Le Cordon Bleu (school) in Bancock for a 9-month Thai cuisine program.

I LOVE Thai food, it’s my favorite. And, I love seafood for sure. I like anything, like there’s nothing I won’t eat or try.

I wasn’t like that when I was younger but my mom and step-dad made me sit at the table until like 3 in the morning until everything was gone on my plate. There was NO moving until every bit was gone. No matter how spice, no matter what it was. And it worked!”

Do you feel that it’s any different for a woman working in this business? Do you feel you have to work a bit faster, stronger, harder?

“I do, yeah. I do feel like that a lot. At least in the kitchens I’ve been in this far. It’s always kind of felt like that. That that they don’t take me that seriously at first, when I walk in somewhere. I think it’s a mix of a lot of things, I’m young, I’m a woman… but I think I quickly prove people wrong. It has been challenging in some situations. I’m used to being surrounded in a kitchen with an all-male staff. I have to be in touch with my “masculinity” a little bit!

But I feel like I’ve been accepted and respected here. I do.”

What do you think your greatest assets are as a Sous Chef?

“I think reliability. I’m very reliable. I’m gonna be here every day. I’m not going to call off, I’m gonna be on time and I work really hard. I don’t take breaks. If there’s down time, I think of what needs to be cleaned, what needs to be organized, what little projects can I find. Not just waiting for an order to come in.

There’s ALWAYS something to do in a kitchen. Always.”

Has Chef Paul asked you for any ideas or input on any of his menu items of the future?

“Yes! He actually let me put a dish on the menu last week.

I have a culinary competition coming up this weekend so I did something similar here. I’m doing Artic Char and he wanted me to get practice butchering it (to prepare for the competition) so, he ordered me a bunch of Artic Char and I did a dish with that on the menu.”

When you were a student in the Culinary Program at Schoolcraft, did you feel, after a time, that you could spot those student that were going to “make it”, and those who weren’t?

“Yeah, I think especially right now, in these times. It’s hard. You can spot more people who won’t make it, than those who will. It’s more like a lack of care. It’s a little disappointing to see that not everyone has the energy, the excitement…”

What is your typical day like here at Cuisine?

“I show up, get everyone’s stations set up, cutting boards, sanitation water, then the next thing I do is make a list. I look at every station, see what they all need and start a big list.

When everyone gets here, the list is out and we all start our production. I need to know first of all, what we have (on hand) , what’s going on. Sometimes, I have to reorganize the cooler before I can think straight. But since I’m here every day, I usually know where we’re at and what needs to be done.”

At 26, Jordan’s drive, determination and effort backed with a culinary education and some excellent work experience, is a recipe for career success.

She’s all dressed up with EVERYWHERE to go.

And she is certainly “showing up.”


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