Chef Profile: Career Path Insights

May 25, 2022, 17:03
Chef Profile: Career Path Insights

Chef Profile: Career Path Insights

29 December 2021

Sean Dwigans
Reser’s Fine Foods Culinary Business Development Manager

By Lisa Parrish, GMC Editor
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Editor’s Note: The new, monthly Chef Profile: Career Path Insights will focus on professional chefs from various facets of the foodservice industry. Culinarians answer questions delving into their views of current foodservice developments and how culinary students can obtain positions within their industries. A goal of this series is to introduce students and instructors to a plethora of foodservice career options.

In what foodservice area do you work?
I work in culinary business development for the leading provider of fresh refrigerated foods to the foodservice industry. I work with our commercial and non-commercial foodservice customers and show them our prepared salads, side dishes, pre-cut fruit, and Mexican foods. Together we discuss how to incorporate our products into current and future LTO menu offerings.

Where do you see your area of the foodservice industry in five years?
Although the foodservice industry will be forever impacted by the pandemic, I envision this resilient industry working its way back to pre-pandemic levels in terms of sales and business -- and hopefully becoming even stronger.

For our business, I forecast three main changes in five years.

  • I predict we will be providing our freshly prepared foods to more convenience stores. The C-store category is rapidly expanding due to the pandemic trend of “on the go” eating.
  • Smaller-scale quick-serve operations will thrive. Consumers want food quickly, but not always fast food. Quick serve restaurants providing fresh foods will capitalize on consumer demand.
  • Our fresh side dish category will continue to grow due to the need for back of the house labor savings.

Describe two current foodservice trends you are seeing today in your industry.

Food that travels well sells. The pandemic has shifted many restaurants to pare down their menu and provide simplified meals to-go.

Worldly flavors becoming more approachable. Global flavors and ingredients have worked their way into standard restaurant fare. A few flavor examples include miso, turmeric, harissa and gochujang.

What steps would you advise culinary graduates to take in securing a position in today's foodservice market?
My advice to any culinary school graduate is to be flexible and open-minded when searching for jobs. You may not know your dream job even exists, but you may find it by staying open to different opportunities within the foodservice world.

I also recommend utilizing social media (podcasts, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube) to follow your favorite restaurants and chefs. It’s an easy way to stay up-to-date on the latest trends.

My final piece of advice is to embrace a long-term view of your culinary education. Take continuing education classes offered by your local community college or a class by a fellow chef. These learning opportunities could turn into a job opportunity.

Please describe one surprising event in your professional life that made a valuable impact on your career today.
My biggest surprise was learning my current job at Reser’s existed! In culinary school, I honestly didn’t know this type of job was out there. A job placement coordinator at my culinary school recommended I apply to Reser’s as a Research and Development Chef. I haven’t looked back since and genuinely enjoy my professional career path.

About Sean Dwigans, Culinary Business Development Manager for Reser’s Fine Foods
With more than 23 years of experience working in restaurants, hotels and club kitchens, and food manufacturing, Sean is passionate about growing, cooking, and indulging in delicious food. Currently, Sean is the Culinary Business Development Manager for Reser’s Fine Foods in Portland, Oregon. Sean is part of the Research and Development team perfecting fresh refrigerated deli salads, side dishes, and prepared foods for the supermarket, club store, and food service industries.

As a native Oregonian, Sean attended Western Culinary Institute. He and his wife share a passion for food and local ingredients growing most of their own fruits and vegetables, as well as nurturing four hens to enjoy fresh eggs. Sean enjoys local beer, whiskey and wine and hosts food and beverage pairing events for friends and family.

About Reser’s Foodservice
Family-owned and operated, Reser’s Foodservice is a leading provider of fresh refrigerated foods to the foodservice industry. Founded in 1950, with distribution capabilities across North America, the company remains committed to offering scratch quality prepared salads, side dishes, pre-cut fruit, and Mexican foods to both commercial and non-commercial foodservice operations. Reser’s operates 14 facilities and employs more than 4,500 employees in the United States, Mexico and Canada.