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National Restaurant Association - At 23, this restaurateur’s world is his oyster

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At 23, this restaurateur’s world is his oyster

For Patrick Clark, working hard to succeed has made his achievements that much sweeter.

Clark, 23, worked a variety of jobs – painting and construction among them – before realizing becoming a chef was his true passion. Once he realized that, he never looked back. Today he is executive chef and co-owner of The Red Cup, a vegetarian restaurant in Oklahoma City.

“I was 16 when I decided I wanted to pursue the culinary arts. I found a little restaurant in the area – The Red Cup – and begged for a job,” he remembered. “I’ve been here for seven years and now am an owner. I don’t like to brag, but I kind of put my head down and just worked. I knew this would be something I could like and do, so I put everything I had into it.”

Clark said he is thankful his Oklahoma City high school offered ProStart, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s culinary and hospitality management program. ProStart not only gave him an opportunity to learn basic culinary skills, but let him compete in culinary competitions on a national stage.

“I was a junior at Metro Tech High when I enrolled in ProStart,” he noted. “I think my counselor knew I was into cooking. I took the classes along with my other courses and also held down my job at the restaurant. What I put in was what I got out of it.”

He learned basic knife skills, cooking methods and food safety and sanitation procedures. He also met ProStart mentor Jed Kronholm, who made a lasting impact. Kronholm passed away about six years ago.

“Jed was a chef at Oak Tree National Golf Club,” he said. “My teammates and I learned so much. I still carry a lot of him with me. We loved him like family. He was an amazing chef and only 26 when we met him.”

Clark bought into The Red Cup three years ago with money saved while working there as a teenager.

“I saved my money and when the opportunity came around, I was ready to jump in.”

The young chef advises others pursuing industry careers to do the work to succeed.

“If you’re going to do something, do it well and go all the way,” he said. “Each and every day, do better than the previous one. If you stay stagnant, people will pass you by.”

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