Executive Chef, Connecticut Convention Center With 25 years of culinary experience under his toque, Steven Rosen became executive chef of the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford last November. The facility offers 140,000 square feet of exhibition space, a 40,000-square-foot ballroom and 25,000 square feet of meeting space, and Rosen is called upon to provide food and beverage for everything from a 10-person coffee break to a grand banquet for 9,000. M&C recently spoke with the chef about his job.
When did you know you wanted to be a chef? I had always loved cooking, but I never considered it a career possibility until I was 18. I was in California working at a gold and silver exchange, and one of my managers had a catering business on the side. One day she found herself short-staffed for an event and asked me to help her out. Well, I loved doing it -- and that put me on the road to becoming a chef.
What's the biggest challenge of overseeing the food at a major convention facility? It's the sheer numbers of people you sometimes have to cater to. When you're dealing with a banquet for, say, 3,000 people, you quickly learn that just one small fraction of a mistake becomes magnified many times over.
What's the best bit of advice you can give to a planner bring a group to the center? Know your client. Don't proceed based on what you like; communicate with your client so you know what they want, what their goal is for the event.
What do you like to do in your spare time? We live near some woods, and I love to take my two young children fishing and hiking -- and if we see some wild plants that would work well in a recipe, we pick them and bring them on home.