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Gregory Gottlieb

With the gourmet dinner ‘License to Dine: A Culinary Mission‘ taking place this upcoming weekend, it is only appropriate that we put this week’s campus celebrity spotlight on one of the faces behind UNH’s six course dining event, the executive chef Gregory Gottlieb! Not only does Gregory have the greatest sense of humor, but is a very active student here at UNH, as you will soon find out- keep reading!

Name: Gregory Gottlieb

School/Year: Paul College, Junior

Major: Hospitality Management

Hometown: Atlantic City, NJ

Activities/Clubs: Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity; Student Senate; Marketing & Advertising Club; TNH Columnist

You are the executive chef for the upcoming gourmet dinner! How/why did you obtain this position?

I actually didn’t apply for it! Interestingly enough, I applied for administrative and “front-of-house” positions only. I never even imagined a position in the kitchen, but the teaching team thought I was a good candidate. My past restaurant experience was existent but not all that extensive. I worked as an expeditor and a server’s assistant in a beautiful fine dining restaurant back home and definitely enjoyed the non-cooking parts of the jobs more. Luckily, the position of Executive Chef actually requires little hands-on cooking. Guests will owe their satisfied taste buds to my wonderful team of Sous Chefs and our help from the younger Hospitality students. In any case, I’m just glad to have been selected for a leadership position – I think I work more comfortably as a leader.

As the executive chef, you have several responsibilities, what are the main ones?

I oversee all kitchen and “back-of-the-house” matters and report directly to our outstanding General Manager. My Sous Chefs and the collaborating freshman food and beverage students are the ones with the sleeves rolled up in the kitchen. Up until now, my job has consisted of collaborating with the other department executives, organizing our team tasks, and foreseeing how the production and timeline for the dinners should look. On the night of the dinner, I’m barely even in the kitchen, but rather approving the presentation of dishes as they depart for the guests. It’s far more administrative work, collaboration with the other departments, and organization – far less actual cooking than people might think.

I know that one of your responsibilities was to come up with the menu for the dinner, how did you come up with (at least some of) the ideas?

I worked very closely with one of my sous chefs who has a pretty impressive restaurant background. To be brutally honest, I sort of nodded my head at his suggestions that I liked and, voila, we had a rough draft. Growing up in the backyard of a pretty remarkable tourist destination, I had the privilege to eat out often and to enjoy some top-tier fine dining. In keeping with that, I tried to offer my opinion on different taste ideas and presentation as much as possible, but I cannot take full credit for our menu. Am I starting to sound less important? I promise I’m important…

What do you think is the most challenging part about the job?

Making sure that my team isn’t too overworked or underworked is really a challenge. My job entails a lot of delegating tasks. It’s a shame when someone is either staying up all night standardizing recipes, drawing up plating procedures, or grinding on some other task and someone else is wondering why I haven’t assigned them something. For example, one of my team members is known as the Purchaser. His job has been absurdly time-consuming and stressful but is crucial to the project; purchasing product for 300 or so hungry people takes a lot more than you might think. It has been difficult for me to ensure he is not too overworked, but he has done such a great job which has made me a happy chef.

What do you think is the most rewarding part about the job?

I don’t think the rewarding part has arrived yet. I hope that by Sunday afternoon, I can look back at all of the sleepless nights, Google Drive (the class uses this as the database for every department and every task – may God have mercy on my Gmail inbox) files, team meetings, and a couple missed deadlines in other classes and say it was worth it. Also, the last time my parents were in Durham was when they dropped me off at Stoke for freshman move-in day. They’re flying in from Las Vegas for Sunday’s brunch, so just having them here will be awesome.

What are you least looking forward to for the upcoming dinner?

Issues, in general. Statistically speaking, there will be a few last-minute problems to come up; we won’t have enough of some ingredient or we forgot to prepare something in advance or someone’s locked in the walk-in freezer or Greg finally went nuts and submerged his head into the Deep Fryer. These things come up in all big food and beverage events; I just hope that our hard work up until now prevents most of these things.

Something we should all be aware of, what are the dates/times of the upcoming dinner!?

Friday, April 4th (5pm) – SOLD OUT

Saturday, April 5th (5pm) – SOLD OUT

Sunday, April 6th (11:30am) – GO BUY A TICKET RIGHT NOW

Also, what is the theme for the upcoming dinner?

Sore subject, actually. After a valiant effort of mine to convince my classmates to vote for “An Evening Downtown: A Tribute to Portsmouth” idea (which would pay tribute to locally-renown dishes in Portsmouth and bring in the restaurateurs responsible for those dishes to our kitchen to mentor), my colleague and trusted pain-in-the-ass-designated friend decided to one-up me. He claims that the only reason he proposed and advocated for what is now our theme – the James Bond-inspired “License to Dine: A Culinary Mission” – was to ensure I couldn’t bask in the glory of choosing the theme. Regardless, we have an awesome theme and we’re all wicked excited for it! Did I just break a hyphen-using world record for one paragraph?

If you could only eat one meal every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?

The Goldfinger. You’ll have to come to the brunch on Sunday (tickets still available!) to find out what it is. Or…I guess you could just go to the gourmet dinner website. But I promise it’ll taste better in-person.

On another note, what other involvements do you have on campus?

I have a sort of bi-weekly column in TNH, UNH’s student newspaper. I can’t actually call it a “bi-weekly column” because the Gourmet Dinner was just one of a few things preventing me from getting my submissions in on time recently. I also am very active in my fraternity, Tau Kappa Epsilon. I was president for some of my freshman and sophomore years which was awesome because I am a chapter legacy (hi dad!). Beyond that, I am a student senator and am a member in the Marketing and Advertising club. I also am often found napping by the fireplace in that awesome room in the MUB.

Give us one or two fun facts about you!

I promised myself a few months back I was going to quit smoking on my mom’s birthday this year. I did not realize that it fell one week before the Gourmet Dinner. As you could imagine, it was poor timing given the whole stress factor. Regardless, I’ve gone 6 days without a smoke and I feel great. Also – I am convinced I was the lead writer of “Hey Arnold!” in a previous lifetime.

Lastly, if you could pick next week’s campus celebrity, who would it be and why?

Victoria Nelson – Alpha Xi Delta’s chef/house mother. For all the times she’s made fun of me for burning the bacon, not knowing how to fold an omelet, and playing crappy music in the kitchen. You have turned this “house boy” into the Executive Chef he is today through tough love and humiliation.

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