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Callie Waldman

Chef (BandPage)

in chef, food

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm the chef at a music/tech start-up in San Francisco called BandPage, where I'm exposed to three industries that I love: Music, Tech and Food. I cook lunch for about 60 people each day, and breakfast for about 30. I create the menus which change daily and am responsible for ordering food, managing vendor accounts, all prep, cleanup and kitchen organization.

Coming up with creative food-related activities is the fun part... company picnics, Happy Hours on our roof deck, employee "guest chef" dinners, cooking for company off-sites and retreats, serving late-night snacks when we're pushing a launch date.

What hardware do you use?

My mind goes immediately to my knives when I think about this question, not only because my knives are the tool I use most, but they're also the the tool that I use most intimately. Cooking requires an incredible amount of work with your hands, and working with a good knife should feel like it's just an extension of your hand.

I use a combination of German and Japanese brands. In my experience German knives are typically a little heavier and have a thicker blade, while Japanese knives feel more delicate and perhaps allow for a bit more dexterity. For my chef knife I use a 6 inch Wustof Ikon Blackwood. For my bread knife I use a 9 1/2 inch Miyabi Kaizen, and for my paring knife I use a 3 inch Global.

Beyond knives, cooking for 60 people everyday on my own wouldn't be possible without the help of some very necessary kitchen equipment. I couldn't live without my Breville Sous Chef Food Processor. I use this thing every single day for dicing, shredding, fine slicing, whipping and mixing. Its best feature is the organizing case that comes with, because it holds all the blades so that I know exactly where to find them. Then there's my Vita-mix. I've used it daily for 3 years and it works just as well as the day it was purchased. I use this mostly for soup purees, salad dressings, smoothies and sauces. I lease an Auto-Chlor Commercial Dishwasher that fits under the counter to replace a regular house hold dishwasher, so it doesn't take up any extra space. It runs on a 90 second cycle, and is easy enough to operate so that employees can run it on their own. I cook and bake on a Thermador 6 burner stove/oven which in all honesty, my operation would be much more optimal if I had two of these.

And what software?

I place all my orders through Sourcery. This is a website that has all my vendor inventory lists consolidated onto one platform, so that it's easier for me to organize and track orders.

I get my produce, dairy, dry goods and some bread through GreenLeaf, meat and seafood through Del Monte Meat Company, specialty spices and some specialty pantry items through Pacific Gourmet, and kitchen equipment and appliances I order through Restaurant Depot.

Good customer service is extremely important to me as I decide which vendors to work with. A lot of last minute things come up in this line of work, and it's really nice to be able to call up a rep directly and know that they're doing their best to accommodate my requests. Beyond customer service, I also look for food vendors who advocate for sustainability in their products, and I do my best to support smaller food businesses whenever possible.

What would be your dream setup?

I'd love to build a beautifully designed, shared kitchen/event space from the ground-up. The kitchen would serve as an incubator for food entrepreneurs and food consultants, and would also be rented out for cooking classes, training grounds or restaurant pop-ups. There'd be an open floor-plan shared office space with high-speed Internet for the portion of food operations that extend beyond the kitchen and into a world of emails, networking, online search and ordering.

I envision the aesthetic to be a combination of more modern design with high ceilings, lofted open floor plan, exposed brick, cement and refurbished wood, while the public event space portion of its interior would feature a more Classic Victorian style look.