Started as a cook, now he’s HERE! Meet Chef Andre Ponder. Partner at Piada Parma, diehard Clevelander and one of the most determined individuals on our squad.
Andre’s story is one of perseverance and determination. He began his career with Piada 6 years ago as a line cook and has worked his way up the ranks. He is now operating his own Piada restaurant in Parma, Ohio.
Last week, we highlighted Chef Will Foster at Piada South Euclid. Andre has had the opportunity to be mentored by Will during his time with Piada which has shaped him into the role model he is today amongst our Cleveland Team. Today, we’ll take a closer look at their mentorship, and why it’s one of Piada’s greatest success stories.
When Andre began his career at Piada, he was quickly promoted from cook to supervisor for his outstanding work ethic. Andre’s drive and commitment to growing the business made his career take off, and soon management asked Andre to begin assisting other Cleveland Piada locations. He was then promoted to Chef at our South Euclid location where he met Will, who really took him under his wing.
“Chef Will is the perfect blend of hands on, hands off. He would allow me to fail and then pick me back up to help me learn from my mistakes. He would give me opportunity to take on more responsibility and I didn't want to fail him. I have an entire book of notes I’ve taken from Will that I still go by to this day. I remember how hard he worked, and I took those qualities to heart.”
The lessons Andre took away from his time working for Will strongly prepared him for restaurant leadership and running his own kitchen, and he taught Chef Will plenty of lessons himself.
“Having Chef Andre with me has really helped me grow. He made me focus on being a better leader. I’ve always tried my best to lead and motivate my team, but to have someone saying ‘Hey! Show me, show me, show me! How did you get that answer? How did you do that? Show me!’ …Having a person like that in your kitchen makes you sharp as a knife. And it’s been fulfilling to see Andre succeed. He earned the opportunity to have his own restaurant and be his own boss."
Now, as Partner of Piada Parma, Andre has been given the opportunity to demonstrate character traits he’s developed from Will and inspire growth within his very own team.
“I love motivating people to be the best that they can be and to overcome their obstacles. My leadership style is kind of like a chameleon, because I change my approach depending on who I’m working with. Sometimes I lead by example, and other times I need to step back and allow a Team Member to make mistakes. The way I see it, mistakes only make you better in the long run. Mistakes can turn into teachable moments.”
Together, Chef Andre and Chef Will are some of the finest leaders Piada has to offer. We are proud of their accomplishments and grateful for their dedication and commitment to Piada.
If you’re looking for a career with huge growth potential, head to careers.mypiada.com!