By Will Pacio, ICC Professional Culinary Arts ’03 and CEO & Co-Founder of Pared
A veteran in the restaurant industry. Will started as a cook at Per Se in New York and went on to run IT for Thomas Keller’s restaurants. He was founder and CEO of Spice Kit, a popular fast-casual concept. Studied at Stanford. Trained at the French Culinary Institute, now the International Culinary Center.
From Per Se & The French Laundry To Opening My Own Restaurants
In 2003, I moved from California to New York to attend the International Culinary Center (what was then the French Culinary Institute) and pursue my dream of becoming a chef. I can still remember how nervous I was walking into the classroom that very first day, but being within earshot of some of my childhood heroes like Jacques Pépin and André Soltner was a dream come true. It was a crash course on how to become a chef and learn the fundamentals of classic cuisine, all while balancing the fear of messing up as my chef instructor, Chef Sixto, watched my every move.
After graduating from ICC, I was lucky enough to land my dream job as a commis on the opening team of Per Se in 2004. ICC had given me the foundation of technique, but working for Thomas Keller for the next 5 years changed my entire mindset about what could be accomplished in the restaurant world. I learned how to execute with exacting standards at a breakneck pace—all while building a mindset that nothing is impossible because the team around me would do anything to ensure guests got exactly what they wanted. Being part of a team that earned 3-Michelin stars and 4 stars from The New York Times was not only validation for us, but a reason to keep pursuing excellence.
After working at Per Se and The French Laundry, Thomas Keller’s other 3-Michelin starred restaurant in California, I started my own restaurant, Spice Kit, in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2010. Entrepreneurship and opening restaurants are their own school of overcoming the impossible. From finding investors, negotiating with landlords, and dealing with construction and permit delays, I’m amazed that we were able to open not one, but three restaurants over the course of a few years. During those years, I met many other ambitious chefs that were opening restaurants across the country—I became more amazed at the entire food industry.Thousands of chefs, just like me, were also taking on the same challenges of opening a restaurant to make their own dreams come true.
Throughout my journey as a culinary student, a cook, a chef, and a restaurant owner, I experienced the reality of our industry: it’s hard work. As a young cook, it’s difficult to make enough money and to find the right opportunities. As an operator, it feels impossible to keep a restaurant fully staffed while trying to keep all of your guests happy and making enough money to keep the lights on.
Innovation In The Restaurant Industry
These realities brought me to the next step of my journey in this industry, founding Pared. Our mission is to make restaurant life easier. Pared is a technology platform and mobile app that solves staffing needs for our industry. We are accomplishing this by giving the professionals in our industry a digital resume where their career lives, enabling them to earn more money with each new job. We’re allowing them to find opportunities that help them level up their skills and careers. Our platform also assist restaurant owners, managers, and operators by helping them keep their restaurants fully staffed with skilled people. Having a fully staffed business means they can focus on serving their customers and grow a thriving business instead of spending all of their time posting jobs and interviewing candidates.
In just a few short years, we’ve expanded from San Francisco to New York, Philadelphia and Washington, DC. We now have over 100,000 professionals on our platform. We still have a long way to go, but everyday I’m inspired to make restaurant life easier for the one in ten Americans who work in our industry. Our goal is to help everyone who works in food service—from the culinary student at ICC who is looking for their first job, to the restaurant owner in Toledo, Ohio who wants to open their next location. It may seems impossible to solve these challenges in our industry, but I don’t think so.