You won't find Certified Executive Chef Doug Allen in the kitchen of any local restaurants during a busy dinner rush, but his work is deeply embedded in the culinary scene here in Charlotte. His company, Premier Hospitality, is a consulting firm that helps new restaurants open successfully. If you have eaten at any number of restaurants around town, such as 131 Main and the newly opened Tavern on Park, then he has helped make that experience happen. He has also been a member of the American Culinary Federation for 25 years and won the ACF Chapter Chef of the Year three times.
Creative Loafing: What exactly do you do at Premier?
Doug Allen: I have been doing this job for 14 years, and my mother often tells me she still doesn't know what it is that I do. It's a lot of different things that deal with anybody who is serving food. On any given day I could be helping a pizza shop in the test kitchens on what dough, sauce, cheese and toppings they need. Or I could be redeveloping a restaurant's entire kitchen, to help them get the right equipment as according to the menu they have prepared. The end goal is always the same: I'm only successful if everyone I consult with is successful -- from the distributors to the restaurants ... that measures my success.
How did you first get involved with cooking as a career?
I grew up in upstate New York, and it was warmer in the kitchen than it was on the curb shoveling snow. I worked my way up from a dishwasher to a breakfast cook, prep cook and pantry cook until I was on the front line. It wasn't long before cooking was in my blood.
Does all of your past culinary experience help with your job as a consultant?
It's very important. To be able to work with all the different food services you have to know it all. I have worked in resorts, cruise ships, country clubs, fine dining and all the rest. I worked in a hotel for a year before I opened my business and that rounded out my career well.