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How to Become an Executive Chef

Ed Glebus Went from Being a Sub Shop Employee to Cooking for 12,000 People a Day

Iron Chef, Jamie Oliver, Mario Batali.

Thanks to the Food Network and a plethora of cooking shows, when people think about becoming a chef nowadays, their next thought is about getting their own TV show. But Ed Glebus, an executive chef for CulinArt in San Diego, says it's a lot of hard work, repetition and it's all done off-camera.

After working on a farm trying his hand in retail, Glebus was 16 when he took a job at D'Angelo sub shop in Plymouth, Massachusetts. And he's been working in the food industry ever since. Although he gave college a try, Glebus said it wasn't for him and so he set out to follow two of his passions: traveling and cooking. Using the skills he garned while hanging around his grandmother's restaurant as a kid, Glebus wandered all around the country working for different restaurants and picking up new skills along the way.

"I learned a lot from moving around," Glebus said. "Learn it, master it and move on."

Glebus traveled to New Orleans, Memphis and Las Vegas and did stints as a short-order cook at a steakhouse, head chef at a French fine dining restaurant and even worked as a cook at Sea World. And yes, they served fish. But the great thing about jumping from restaurant to restaurant in many different places, Glebus said, is picking up the various culinary influences that each had to offer.

"It really makes you well-rounded and a lot more employable," he said.

After settling in San Diego and working for a few years, Glebus was hired as the general manager and executive chef of CulinArt, a corporate dining company. In his current position, he manages dining and food services for Qualcomm, a Fortune 500 telecommunications company. He now manages 100 employees and oversees all food service for Qualcomm's 12,000 employees in seven different locations. Glebus plans and produces more than 2,000 meals a day in the company's different cafes, in addition to additional corporate catering services.

When he's not at his regular job, Glebus indulges his competitive spirit by entering cooking contests through the American Culinary Federation, where he is president of the San Diego chapter. He has one hour to prepare four plates for master chefs, who then judge him on safety, preparedness, cooking skills and flavor profiles. It's an experience Glebus describes as "pretty intense."

Now he's into the "Farm to Table" movement, which consists of knowing from where all of his ingredients orginate. That's why Glebus actually goes out to local farms, meets the farmers and personally checks on what they're growing and the methods they use. These local food products are incorporated into Qualcomm's daily menu.

Check out the podcast to discover more about Glebus' story and listen to the advice he offers people thinking about pursuing the culinary arts.


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