Troy Tornabeni


Troy Tornabeni

Chef Troy Tornabeni

Areas of Expertise: Multi-Outlet Properties/Country Clubs/Hotels
Years in Industry: 18+
Credentials: AAS in Culinary Arts
Professional Associations: American Culinary Federation
Personal Motto: “Nothing good in life is easy.”
Culinary Philosophy: Make it from scratch using the freshest ingredients possible based on budget and concept.

What is your current role?

Executive Chef at Eagle Brook Country Club.

How would you describe a typical day in your current role?

In a typical I am involved in staff coaching and mentoring, purchasing, menu development, and P&L management.

What prompted you to become a Chef?

I knew no matter where I worked I would never go hungry.

Did you have a Chef Mentor? If so, who was your Chef Mentor and what did they teach you? 

I have had many over the years from the ACF and various jobs. A few key people in my career have been Rich Naglich CEC AAC, Klaus Mandl, Gonzalo Resendiz CEC AAC, and Angelo Nicelli. They have taught me to be true to myself and my cuisine.

What is the best part of being a Chef?

Getting to know so many great people and working with some of the best ingredients the world has to offer.

What is the hardest part of being a Chef?

The hours and commitment. To really be able to do your job well, you need to view it as a lifestyle and not a career. 

“To really be able to do your job well, you need to view it as a lifestyle and not a career.” 

In your opinion, how are culinary reality shows different from the real culinary industry?

I think what viewers don’t realize is that these people are in it for ratings. Things do happen in our line of work that are stressful, that sometimes drive you absolutely mad even, but when it comes down to it, it’s all about what the viewer want to see. They want to see things burn, people yell at each other, they want raw emotions, but in most real kitchens if the chef and food and beverage director have done their job in training/mentoring/coaching, have established standards, and have a real plan as to how the business should run, those flare ups are few and far between.

If you traveled back to the beginning of your culinary career, what advice would you give yourself?

One of the best pieces of advice that was given to me a couple years ago was to have a learner’s mentality. Education is one of the largest components of being a successful chef.

“Education is one of the largest components of being a successful chef.

The ability to learn and then pass on what you have learned is vital not only to a chefs personal growth, but to the progress of our craft.

What advice would you give someone striving to become a Chef today?

The rise to success is not always an uphill climb. You will fail at times, but do not be afraid to learn from your mistakes and even others’ mistakes because they will get you where you want to go.

Many future Chefs dream of opening a restaurant, what advice would you give them?

Remember that just like any business, it’s a calculated gamble. Location, waste, staff, and marketing are really important factors to consider. Every bit of food that goes into the garbage, every extra minute of staff you use, opening a high-end restaurant in an area that cannot afford to eat there, all are potential things that will determine your success.

“Remember that just like any business, it’s a calculated gamble.”

What are some of the most important skills someone must possess when entering the industry today?

Food and beverage finance, the mentality that you don’t know everything but are willing to learn, and a passion for food.

What tools and/or resources (website, groups, culinary/kitchen tools, etc.) do you rely on the most and why?

Trade Magazines (Food Arts, Sante, Food and Wine), my peers, the American Culinary Federation, and networking events.

In your opinion, what is the most successful culinary path and how can this be achieved?

I don’t believe there is a formula that is right for everyone. Each chef, food and beverage director, or even team member you work for or with, will pass on a new idea or skill. I think the most information you can take in will definitely set you on your way.

Our audience has a strong desire to make a career in the culinary industry, as such, do you have any final thoughts for them?  

Learn as much as you can from school and from your experiences in the industry, take every day with grain of salt and realize that sometimes things don’t work out, but they will next time, so keep positive.

“Learn as much as you can from school and from your experiences in the industry.”