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Natalie Sullivan
Natalie Sullivan

Geoff Straub

Executive Chef | Pittsburgh Penguins – Parkhurst Dining

Briefly describe your job and responsibilities.

I oversee all meals and food production for The Pittsburgh Penguins and their official practice facility The UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex.

What does a “typical” day at work look like for you?

Get to work, write a prep list, catch up with my Sous Chef(s), go over the day with the staff, touch base with the Penguins strength and conditioning team, cook some food, place some orders, have some fun.

What was your first job in the hospitality industry?

My first job was at Burger King when I was 16 years old.

When did you know this industry was right for you?

My first job out of culinary school, I started to get promoted in a short amount of time and I realized that this is what I should be doing.

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to where you are today.

My first job out of culinary school was at Bravo Italian Kitchen. I was there for 4 years and achieved the tile of Sous Chef. I left after being offered my first Executive Chef position at age 23 for Cabo Mexican Grill. From there I took Executive Chef Positions at Siba Cucina and Buca di Beppo. In 2011, I took the position of Chef de Cuisine at B Gourmet. After 4 years I was offered the Executive Chef position with Parkhurst Dining for The Pittsburgh Penguins and UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex.

What is your favorite part of your job?

The people I get to work with. I spend a lot of time around my staff, and although it may not always be sunshine and rainbows, they are great people and make the long hours fun.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

Staying ahead of the game. As chefs, we have to think on our feet and react when a curve ball is thrown our way. If you plan the right way to keep yourself ahead, the curve balls are easier to manage.

What advice would you give to students interested in your profession?

Have fun. Cooking is passion, you have to love it. If you don’t, it will reflect in the food you produce. If you’re not having fun, don’t do it.

What achievement are you most proud of?

Being able to say that I am a 2-time Stanley Cup Champion!

What do you like to do outside of work?

Spend time with my wife and kids. My son plays hockey, and my daughter cheerleads so anytime I can see them compete, it’s great.

What is your favorite food to make or eat?

I love Italian food. I’m pretty sure I could eat pasta every day!

What’s at the top of your bucket list?

Going back to Italy!