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Rising Stars: Meet Erin Willis

Today we’d like to introduce you to Erin Willis.  

Hi Erin, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I started as a young kid, working for my grandmother’s grocery store in Fort Worth, Chicotsky’s. She taught me not only a work ethic but also the fundamentals of cooking along with my mom. From there, I waited tables to eventually working for Patrizio’s not long after college. I was serving at that time when I was trying to get into culinary school however, I couldn’t get financial aid/afford to go. The chef at Patrizzio’s offered to teach me everything I needed to know. I worked from the ground up (there was actually a basement underneath the restaurant), learning everything from knife skills to prep, sauté, the line until approximately 4 years later I was moved up the ladder, bouncing back and forth between there and Cafe Pacific. The experience led me to many other opportunities from SMU, catering, private chef, resorts, clubs to now owning my own restaurant in Lake Highlands about 30 years later. 

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It was smooth until COVID! I never thought something like COVID would happen. It practically killed us and we continue to be in survival mode. Other than that, I pretty much have the mindset that life isn’t a struggle but learning lessons. 

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
Everyone has heard the term, “love what you do and it’s not considered work”. I believe that every day. I thoroughly love my job, the people who work with me, and the food we put out. I never thought my dream would become a reality until later in life and the way it fell into my lap was very rewarding. My staff amazes me every day. We are a close-knit group who lean on each other a lot. They all have a stake in RM from work ethic, to having the opportunity to put their creations on the menu, to work for a restaurant that shows them that we are all equal. Not many restaurants do that and because of who we are, I’ve had the fortune of having most of my employees since the day we opened 3 1/2 years ago. 

What do you think about luck?
I don’t depend on luck but karma and patience. This is a tough business with tough people to deal with. All good things come to those who wait. 

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Image Credits
Erin Willis
Erika Turk

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