Interview with Joshua Kagenski

“There were so many things I didn’t know before I went to MAD,” says Joshua Kagenski. “I see a huge difference in how I was prior to being at the Academy, and how I am now.”

At his Nashville restaurant, the sous chef is channeling his own drive for self-development into designing a new program called Butcher & Bee University—teaching kitchen staff and front-of-house workers the skills they need to know to become managers. “In terms of leadership roles in this industry, a lot of the time you’re set up for failure,” he explains. “You’re not really taught how to properly lead, you’re not taught anything financially. You get thrown into a leadership role without any idea of how to do it.”

Joshua and his fellow management team (and hopefully others from outside the company) will be hosting internal training sessions in each person’s area of expertise. “One of our chefs, Scotty, is so knowledgeable in the administrative area and will focus on teaching the ins and outs such as inventory and costing. I’m starting a book club based on what MAD was doing. Little programs to help develop the people we work with.” And if those team members he’s training end up leaving the restaurant to take a leadership role somewhere else? “That simply means we’re setting people up for the future of this industry—not just for ourselves.”

On learning for real-life restaurant situations:
“It’s not easy to find a lot of information. It’s not like you can sit at home and Google it. There are great management books out there—but it’s not the same as talking to someone who’s been through it.”

On paying it forward:
“One of the main reasons I’m building the program is because MAD Academy was something great that I got to experience and learn how to be a better leader. I was very fortunate to be able to go for a week and just learn—and the majority of people in our industry don’t have that and won’t have that. So I’m doing my best to make sure others can learn from it.”

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