235: Chef Jennifer Jasinski | Don’t Try to Please Everyone at the Expense of Being True to Yourself



jennifer-jasinskiCalifornia native, Jasinski is a graduate of Santa Barbara City College and the Culinary Institute of America. After being mentored by Wolfgang Puck, Jasinski decided to break off on her own in 2000 and took an Executive Chef role at Panzano, located in Denver, CO. While working at Panzano she met her future business partner, Beth Gruitch and in 2004 they teamed up to open Rioja. Needless to say, this has turned out to be an amazing partnership and they’ve gone on to open three additional restaurants, all of which located in Denver. Her accolades include James Beard Foundation, “Best Chef Southwest 2013”; Bravo’s Top Chef Masters, “Finalist Season 5”; and James Beard Semi-finalist, “Outstanding Chef Award 2016”.

Show notes…

Today’s Sponsor


Favorite Success Quote or Mantra.

“Don’t try to be everything to everyone. Be true to your vision and who you are.”

“I realize people will forget what you said, forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

-Maya Angelou

What’s Your Purpose, or Your “WHY”?

The ability to make people happy.

The opportunity to create an opportunity for those who work for her.

Your “It” Factors

  • relentlessness.
  • Driven.
  • Curious.
  • Loyalty.
  • Willingness to question herself.

Career Challenge or Failure

Not firing people fast enough. One of the most unpleasant parts of owning a restaurant is that you may need to fire someone you are fond of. If someone is not right for your restaurant don’t hang on to them at your team’s expense.

Knowledge bombs

1. What advice do you have for funding a restaurant?

  • Open a restaurant with your own money. The fewer investors the better.
  • Have at least 3-4 months of operating capital in the bank on the first day you open.
  • Don’t get too cocky. If you’ve opened successful restaurants in the past, it doesn’t mean all of your restaurants will be successful.

2. Success is so dependent on your people. What’s your advice on hiring, managing and retaining people.

  • Write down the attributes of your ideal employee.
  • Test your people out via stages.
  • Do reviews with your people so they know how they’re doing. Have the review feel like a conversation. They’ll open up more.

3. What are some current challenges or industry challenges you see coming?

  • Chef Jen can see there being a struggling with how to stay financially viable with all the increases in expenses. Her advice is to become as efficient as possible.
  • Check out Sundell & Associates for help with negotiating contracts and lowering expenses.

4. How do you balance work and life?

  • You’ve just got to make time for life.

5. Recommended book?


Astrance: A Cook’s Book

CLICK  HERE to get a FREE audio version of this Book

6. Recommended tool or technology?

Restaurant Solutions, Inc.– an accounting firm specializing in financial and operational Unknownmanagement services and systems, focusing specifically on the independent restaurant industry. RSI essentially combines all of your back office work into one easy-to-use platform, streamlining everything from your POS to the IRS. RSI becomes your payroll company, processes all of your vendor checks, reconciles your bank accounts, and sends in your tax payments.

7. 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?

When people are talking to you, take the time to listen closely. Try to get to the root of what they’re REALLY saying.

Contact Info


Thanks for Listening!

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Huge thanks to Chef Jen for joining me for another awesome episode. Until next time!