Carrie Pearl is the executive chef at Foundry & Lux in South San Francisco, where she brings a playful attitude and a love for experimentation into the kitchen every day. Her career with Bon Appétit Management Company has included stints at LinkedIn, Oath, KKR, and Santa Clara University; previously she worked at the Four Seasons in Palo Alto and at a private golf club.
Who and what inspired you to become a chef?
I don’t think I have a romantic story to tell about my inspiration. I was never really great at school; education wasn’t really my thing. I always worked in restaurants but as a front-of-house person. It wasn’t until I volunteered to work the pantry station at one of them that I realized how much I enjoyed getting my [rear] handed to me during service. The rush was exhilarating. I then decided to go to culinary school to make this my career. My parents refused to help me pay for culinary school, so I went into a community college program. After that, it was all over: I became obsessed with working in the kitchen and haven’t stopped since.
Who’s been your most important guest?
I’m not sure how we would measure who is the most important, but I’ve cooked for the president of the United States, the president of Israel, the prince of Morocco, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and various other tech celebrities. However, as corny as it sounds, the most important people I cook for are my family.
What excites you about coming to work every day?
Getting a break from my kids. Just kidding, I enjoy the day-to-day challenges and getting to cook with the team.
What have you learned from working at Bon Appétit?
Compassionate management. In this environment, I’ve had to learn not to sweat the small stuff. Before I joined Bon Appétit, I was a complete hothead, I was always scolding cooks when things were not perfect or up to my standard of perfection. I had to change my point of view in order to be successful in leading these large teams. I knew that my old school, forceful way of managing wouldn’t be effective. I learned that managing with compassion was a necessity. I wanted to be able to get the best results possible out of my teams, and to do that, I had to motivate them to attain the same goals I had.
What are the most important things you try to impart to a new member of your team?
I can sum it up into one: they need to know our culture. We work hard as a team, we work safe, and we support each other. The stronger the teamwork = happier team = tastier food = more possibilities = happier chefs.