Pared Pro-file: Kirk Emerick
I grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota. My journey in the food industry began when I was 18 years old. I worked at my neighborhood pizzeria restaurant washing dishes. At this point, my life did not revolve around the food industry. I was mainly into skateboarding, snowboarding, and sports.
My dream was to live in California and work at something I love. I always enjoyed eating but that things I ate were very simple. My mother was a simple house cook who made classic Midwest comfort dishes like tater tot hot dish, meatloaf with mashed potatoes, pork chops with apple sauce, etc.
Shortly after graduating high school I knew I did not want to attend college and follow that path. So I took a risk and went to culinary school at St. Paul Technical College in hopes of finding my calling. Needless to say, I was hooked. There was a comparison to skateboarding and having your own style. It challenged me to think outside of the box and cook food that was interesting to me. This lead me to read various books and look into different chefs and study how they got to where they were. One of my favorite books was called “How I Learned to Cook” which references many great chefs like Daniel Boulud, Marcus Samuelsson, Nancy Silverton, and many others. I felt encouraged to get an apprenticeship at a French bistro restaurant, Levain.
I remember being so nervous my first day in my chef whites from school and my crappy little knife set in my hand. I was there for 4 months before getting my first paying job in a kitchen. I was lucky to have obtained my first job at Burch working for James Beard award-winning chef Isaac Becker, in Minneapolis. One night, while working service Nancy Silverton came in and I was given the opportunity to say hello. I’d met Nancy briefly, while dining at Osteria Mozza in Los Angeles just a year before and expressed my admiration for her. Luckily for me, she remembered who I was. It was then that she offered me a job at Osteria Mozza, her famous restaurant. So I packed my bags and threw my life into my car and made my way west.
When I was officially part of the team, I was trained on the pasta station, which turned out to be the greatest challenge I was faced with at the time. I loved it so much and worked with a great team that pushed me to get better everyday. Nancy has a contagious love for food and Italian cuisine that made me love it even more. I remember being next to her at the mozzarella bar one night watching her plate her famous mozzarella dishes and telling me, “Don’t think to much about how to plate, just have the ingredients naturally fall onto the plate.” Nancy took pride on getting the freshest produce and was at the restaurant 4 nights a week working the mozzarella bar. It was a great experience and I’m glad I had the opportunity to work for Nancy.
A couple of years later, I was given the opportunity to work with a “Mozza Alumni” who was opening a restaurant in Santa Barbara, Loquita. I was offered a sous chef job and learned a great deal being in a management role. During that time our kitchen had a high turnover rate and we couldn’t get any cooks to stay or show up for a shift. While doing some research, I found online articles about the shortage of cooks across America and came across a link to Pared. The next day, I shared a YouTube video about Pared and the value this app provided to restaurants with my team, unfortunately, it was not yet a resource offered in Santa Barbara. After some time my fiancé and I decided to take a chance in San Francisco and see what the Bay had to offer. I found out about Pared when I was a sous chef in Santa Barbara.
I never thought that having weekends off and not working 12 hour days was a possibility when working in this industry.
I took a job as a sous chef in the Financial District and was back to working long hours. The lack of a life outside of work began to bother me and the fact that my fiancé and I had opposite schedules became a problem. As I was looking for a job that freed up some time I came across an ad for Pared. I was drawn to the possibility of creating my own schedule and exploring different kitchens. I never thought that having weekends off and not working 12 hour days was a possibility when working in this industry. I applied and immediately began receiving offers that made me feel comfortable to leave the job I had at the time and haven’t looked back since.
One of my most memorable experiences working on Pared was getting to cook and serve the Oakland Raiders and having a conversation with their head coach. I love sports and I have had the opportunity to have gigs at events that do not feel like work at all. I have also met great cooks that have so much experience and have worked at prestigious kitchens. I have continued to learn and grow professionally thanks to the various kitchens I have been to.
I have been able to substitute the income from my previous job and meet other cooks who were in the same situation I was in. There is a great community on Pared and I would recommend it to those looking to get out of a routine and make their own schedule. I am now able to work Monday through Friday and cruise through the city knowing that my weekends are free and I’m earning enough to enjoy my spare time.