A new program invites industry professionals to learn from a collective of industry experts, either live in New York City or from the comfort of a home computer. Anthony Rudolf, the founder of Journee, says he’s harnessing existing knowledge within the restaurant industry to help both new and experienced restaurant employees develop their careers.
“Going from competition to collaboration is far more impactful than building from a place of feeling like you have to beat the other guy,” says Rudolf. “The consumer also gets a better experience when everyone is sharing and talking and dreaming together.”
Rudolf has been involved with restaurants since the age of 15. Never a stellar student, he took a guidance counselor’s advice and opted for a tech school, where he studied culinary arts, then the Culinary Institute of America. He worked for Hilton Hotels, Jean-Georges and, for seven years, for Thomas Keller at Per Se and Bouchon Bakery.
What was the inspiration for Journee?
Being ambitious and growing my career as a manager quite early, I saw that getting access to resources to really take control of your career and grow aren’t readily available. You’re dependent upon your employer to provide you with the training, skills and access to knowledge that you need to take the next leap in your career. For example, I was under consideration to become the next general manager of Per Se, but I hadn’t seen a profit and loss statement since college, which was 10 years prior. So being a general manager was a whole new learning skill on top of the to-do list of running one of the greatest restaurants in the world. It made me realize that there’s a real lack of knowledge sharing and resources for restaurant professionals. We put a lot of effort into employee training, but you’re also running a restaurant. Right now it’s sink or swim. You get promoted because you’re a good server or manager, but if you don’t have the proper management and leadership skills, you need to pick it up quickly or you’ll end up in a continuous loop of transition until you dig your way out. With Journee, we want to help solve that problem.
How does Journee work?
We’re a community of restaurant professionals, not a school. You must work with a restaurant or serve the restaurant community in some fashion, whether you’re a hospitality attorney, a farmer, a restaurant accountant, etc. You go through an application process to join the community. The community is rooted in sharing knowledge, empowerment, skills, ideas and perspectives. We have dozens of professionals who share their knowledge on a variety of subjects.
What types of classes are currently available?
We have a good number of wine and spirits classes, but we focus mostly on management leadership (going from an hourly employee to salaried employee, going from a first-time manager to general manager, and becoming a business owner). From an accounting and finance perspective, we have classes on everything from how to write a business plan to how to understand a profit and loss statement. We also cover legal topics such as tipping and liquor licenses. The only thing we don’t do is teach you how to cook.
Do members need to be present or are events streamed?
We just started livestreaming events. Some aren’t conducive to livestreaming if you aren’t present and active in the class, but we livestream as much as we can. The long-term plan is to record everything that happens on site and make everything accessible at anytime from any place.
Since you’re based in New York, how can people outside of New York participate?
The livestreaming events are streamed online free (yourjournee.com). The entire Wine Online series is available to purchase online for $18 per month. Later this summer, we’ll roll out the larger online suite. My ambition is to put additional Journee Colabs in other metro cities.
Is there a fee to join?
There’s a flat membership fee for the year, which is $365, and provides access to unlimited classes and events. So for $1 a day you get unlimited learning. If you’re driven and want to commit one day per week, you’ll get more than someone who only comes to the Colab once per month.
What’s your ultimate mission?
I really believe cooking and serving to be a noble craft. I think it’s the root of so many communities. The dining room team nurtures people through emotional connectedness, and the culinary team nourishes through wholesome foods. So we want to be able to leverage community to empower each other so we can have a better chance at success, we can be more prepared and we can raise the standards of the profession together.