365: Being the mentor with Chef Craig Hartman


A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Chef Craig Hartman spent 37 years building his career around fine dining, hotels and educating others. In 2010 he deiced it was time to change it up and made a go at fulfilling a lifelong dream to open a BBQ Joint. Today he serves as the chef/owner of The BBQ Exchange, located in Gordonville, VA.

In this episode we will discuss: Learning from your mistakes. Make yourself better each and every day. Never being satisfied. Being a chef means making people happy. The best path for successfully open a restaurant. Don’t lease: buy. Building equity with the building you buy. Very few chefs can do whatever they want in their restaurants and still make enough people happy. Service is key. Partnerships. Being married to your partner. Tell the truth. Catering.


Show notes…

Favorite Success Quote or Mantra.

“Enter each day better than the day before.”


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Career Challenge or Failure

Craig made a lot of mistakes in his first restaurant. Employee income taxes were backed up. But we learned a lot from it.

Knowledge bombs

  1. Which “it factor” habit, trait, or characteristic you believe most contributes to your success?

    I love what I do so much it’s infectious. being sincere is extremely important as well as caring about people.

  2. What is your biggest weakness?

    Getting distracted.

  3. What is one piece of advice you have for leading others?

    Care. Do things right. It helps you sleep at night. Don’t cut corners. Do things for the right reasons.

  4. What’s one question you ask or thing you look for during an interview?

    When the candidate tells the truth and is sincere.

  5. What’s a current challenge? How are you dealing with it?

    Getting your vision across to your employees and training them to thrive in the culture.

  6. What’s one thing (besides food) your restaurant does well and separates you from other restaurants?

    hospitality. Our mission is to give true loving southern hospitality.

  7. What’s one book we must read to become a better person or restaurant owner?

    Consider the Oyster by

  8. What’s one piece of technology you’ve adopted in your restaurant and how has it influence operations?

  9. With all the knowledge you have now if you could go back in time and give your past self one piece of business advice, What would it be and why?

    “Operate from your heart.”

  10. What is one question you think should be added to this interview?

    I’m in awe of the people who have the guts to give it their all in this industry.

Contact Info


facebook: @bbqexchange

Instagram: @chefhartman

TWITTER: @bbqexchange

Thanks for Listening!

Thanks so much for joining today! Have some feedback you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below!

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Huge thanks to Craig Hartman for joining me for another awesome episode. Until next time!

1 thought on “365: Being the mentor with Chef Craig Hartman

  1. Very inspired and inspiring and not just in regards to Food Service management. The barbeque Exchange is not just a place to eat. You leave there feeling both filled and cared about. Craig Hartman certainly lives by his principles.

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