Meet Kyle Lewis: Dining & Systems Development Manager
Kyle Lewis, Kings Dining & Systems Development Manager, really wasn’t expecting his life to change so dramatically when he first interviewed in October 2017. Initially, it just felt like the logical next step for a man who, by his own admission, had fallen in love with food and all things culinary years back.
“I’d been working in a small seafood restaurant for the past five years,” Kyle says. “I started my sophomore year of college as a dishwasher before working my way to prep cook, then eventually kitchen manager.”
The self-taught culinary expert relished the creative freedom and opportunity to be playful while running his own kitchen, but something made him hungry (no pun intended) for more. So when a friend suggested he apply for the kitchen manager position at Kings, he didn’t just think of it as the change of scenery - this could be a “growth opportunity.”
‘Only One Way to Do It’
Before he even set foot in Kings’ kitchen, Kyle was impressed by the people he met in that initial interview; specifically, how they all seemed less focused on a resume and more on exchanging ideas and speaking to him about their journey with the company.
“That first one hour interview turned into over three hours of open, honest conversation,” Kyle says. “You could just feel it… Everyone was so aligned. Everyone’s story that I talked to was about growth.”
Kyle was convinced, and so was the team. He got to work as the Executive Kitchen Manager at Kings Lynnfield, making the kitchen his own.
Coming into Kings, Kyle was immediately taken with the company's emphasis on scratch cooking. The ability to work with fresh ingredients and an ever-changing menu was a particular treat for him.
“It says a lot about who we are that we have a scratch kitchen,” Kyle says. “If you’re going to serve food, there’s really only one way to do it.”
Kyle eagerly got involved in the “R&D” process and worked with the team to help create and develop a few batch recipes and training components for the next menu. His passion for R&D and his follow through with assignments made him a natural selection for the next menu committee he was drafted into.
‘Culture First, Anything Else Can Be Taught’
Kyle quickly made an impression on his co-workers, including Kings Director of Beverage Operations, Jen Fitzgerald.
“Kyle was incredibly coachable and receptive to training,” Jen says of those early days in Kyle’s tenure. “He’s always asking questions, talking to people and looking to get a better handle on a situation. His receptivity is totally contagious!”
Kyle’s receptivity to training and coaching would soon be flipped around when, after about a year as Executive Kitchen Manager, Kyle was asked to join the training Team and support the many key culinary initiatives he passionately supported while he was Kitchen Manager.
Kyle was never offered a fancy title and it wasn't until months into his unknown role that he was given one. Kylie showed up everyday with the intention of helping to support and improve the systems, processes and menus of Kings and was drafted into almost every team project due to his willingness to support those around him.
Kyle was asked to “mentor” several new members of the culinary team and took the opportunity to do so very seriously. Kyle understood the mind of a Culinary Manager, having performed in this role for years prior to becoming a mentor. HIs showed great empathy, coupled with an uncanny ability to relate and stir up action for the leaders he was paired up with.
Kyle would now be working with chefs and culinary teams across the country in all Kings locations nationwide: developing menus, implementing standard operating procedures, and acting as a mentor for the young chefs under his umbrella.
“Mentorship is the single most important part of my job,” he says. “Fostering the development of someone else is the most beautiful thing you can do. You build your team, build longevity, build in a support system to make it all work.”
For Kyle, culinary know-how is a nice perk for an aspiring chef, but ultimately secondary to passion and hard work. Instead, he cites the lesson he learned that very first interview as the most important determinant of success, both his own and those of his team members: The willingness to learn and grow yourself.
“That’s our culture. You have to absorb everything you can,” Kyle says. “Everyone has something to teach, you can learn something from anyone if you have an open mind. So for me, it’s culture first. Everything else can be taught.”
Kyle's journey and continued growth in the organization is similar to many of the Kings Senior Leaders who started off in hourly roles and have developed into Senior Support roles. Kyle embodies the Core Values at Kings and after a short period of time has accomplished and contributed a tremendous amount. His contributions to Kings menus, training and culture are important and his optimistic vision is an inspiration. His story is far from over...
Do you feel like you would mesh with a culture of learning and growth? Are you ready for contagious receptivity? To learn more about starting your career at Kings, apply today.