Sean Griffin, Chef de Cuisine of Neros, Caesars Palace, Las Vegas
Share with us your background
I grew up in Southern California. My father owned three restaurants. One in Buena Park, one in Downey, and one in Hemet, Riverside County. I started working in the Kitchen when I was thirteen years old busing tables, pealing potatoes, baking bread. It was called Fine Dining Ville, French Food. I learned every facet of the restaurant business from the ground up. After graduating from High School I had to decide if I wanted to go into culinary school or right into the work force. I decided I had a good enough foundation to go right out into the work force. I worked in my Father’s restaurant until I was twenty-two. He passed away and we ran it a little bit longer before we decided to get out of the Hemet scene.
When my Father passed away, my brother and I were running the kitchen. We kept it going for a year longer. The lease was running up, and business was shaky, so we decided to get out and pursue other things.
What did you have to learn to be the main cook?
My father was a chef for fifty years. He had a lot of knowledge and skills and I always paid attention to him. Whatever you do you always have to try several times and make a lot of mistakes. But keep working at it, improving on your skills and you'll get there.
For me, it was hard work, reading a lot and pushing myself to be the best at what I did. My desire to succeed created my success. I was a good cook, not by any means great at anything. And I worked at other restaurants in Hemet, California.
How did you know you weren’t a great cook?
I used to read a lot of the cook books and I realized I wasn’t at the level of some of those cooks. I wasn’t cooking that kind of food. My food was pretty basic. I wanted to get to the level to where I could look at cookbooks and know I could cook that kind of food too, like the TV chefs and say I could do anything they could do. I wasn’t at that level. So, I wanted to work with people who could provide that kind of experience and knowledge and train me. So I went to the Mission Inn Hotel in Riverside California. And the chef over there was pretty good, Gary Palm. I started over there as the Grill Cook, which is pretty much the bottom of the line as far as cooks go, on the hot line. I pushed myself, came in