Wednesday, September 3, 2014

CKCA Graduate Dan Zelkowitz Pops the Cork on Hospitality Management!

We sat down with CKCA graduate Dan Zelkowitz, Assistant Vice President of Operations for F&B Hospitality Group, to talk about his career in hospitality management, his perspective on the kosher food business and his passions outside of cooking.

How did you go from having an interest in food to being an Assistant Director of Operations at a hospitality group? 
I began working in Israel in the food business right after high school. I did everything from butchering chickens to manning egg stations. From there I attended CKCA and became a personal chef, which I did throughout college. At the height of my personal chef business, I employed two staff chefs and a handful of servers - things mushroomed beautifully! My goal was to understand all aspects of the food business.

Currently, I am fortunate to be the Assistant Vice President of Operations for F&B Hospitality Group and oversee/direct 16 restaurants. I am working on opening several more in the near future.

Dan working with a client as a Personal Chef.
What is most rewarding about your work? 
I get to work with some of the most amazing individuals. The hospitality industry is made up of uniquely talented people and I enjoy getting to know them both personally and professionally. It is especially exciting to see a restaurant develop from a mere concept to a real functioning space.

What is the most frustrating? 
One of the most frustrating aspects of my work is that none of the venues I oversee are kosher! I am very intimately involved with the conception and development of a menu and then I'm not able to eat anything. It's frustrating.

What is the most important lesson you've learned on the job? 
Never underestimate the hard work of people behind the scenes! There are a million components that make a restaurant successful most of which the customer never even sees or thinks about.

What are your passions outside of cooking?
I look forward to taking road trips with my wife, reading literature and watching movies. Relaxation is key!

What would you like to be known for in the culinary world?  
For bridging the gap between kosher and non-kosher, and having a restaurant that appeals nearly equally to both segments of the population.

What's your best advise for someone considering going into the food business?  
1) Don’t believe TV! There is no such thing as a cushy chef's job, unless you have spent 20+ years proving yourself every day.
2) Being a chef has to be more than a job for you. It has to be a passion and a way of life.

How do you think kosher food will change in the next 10-15 years?
I expect that consumers will be willing to expand their horizons and become more adventurous eaters. Restaurants in turn will offer more creative menus, wine lists and atmospheres that depart from the traditional kosher eatery. I love the idea of "chef driven" restaurants and hope that becomes a popular trend in the kosher culinary world .

~ Favorite Food to Eat? A well cooked burger always hits the spot.
~ Favorite Food to Cook? Simple fish tartars.
~ Favorite Cookbook? "Jerusalem: A Cookbook".
~ Favorite Cooking Show or Celebrity Chef? Geoffrey Zakarian.
~  Favorite Kitchen Tool? My Japanese mandolin!


  1. Kosher culinary arts is really amazing and is not something that everyone can do. I wanted to go to school for culinary arts, but I never thought about getting into kosher culinary. It is just something that would be cool to do that I have not thought about doing before.

    1. Jak! We'd love to have you join us in our professional training program -- give us call to explore the possibilities or check our website We support and mentor our students through all phases of their careers. Thank you for your comment!