I strain my ears as a few people wander into the kitchen of the Amarillo Country Club, pondering if those new voices match the one of chef and TV personality Rory Schepisi. “You’ll know when Rory’s here,” Executive Chef Joey Guzman assures me. Right on cue a burst of laughter erupts from the kitchen staff. “That’ll be Rory.”
The Chevy-loving New Jersey transplant certainly gets things done in a New-York-minute, but with a grace only found in Southern hospitality. We get right down to business. Schepisi grills up a CAB ribeye – “what else?” – joking with the other chefs while I snap pictures. The entire kitchen is in hysterics in a matter of minutes.
With a charge that rivals the Energizer Bunny, her passion for cooking is contagious. “My staff thinks I’m a nut job,” she laughs. “I have a thing in my kitchen. I make my chefs sing: Happy food produces great, happy plates that we send out to happy customers.”
Maybe it’s Schepisi’s sixth sense for food that makes this tactic work. Even affirmed well-done steak lovers flip to the rare side when they try her favorite dish, a CAB ribeye. You will always find her kitchen stocked with a CAB steak, along with her other five essentials: Chicken broth, sriracha, soy sauce, butter and eggs.
Her oxygen is knowing customers enjoy the food. “There’s nothing better than going into your kitchen, getting slammed with over 300 dinners, feeling out of control and then getting through it without one thing coming back but compliments,” Schepisi says. “It’s like winning the biggest sporting event. That’s my rush. I love it.”
A successful chef requires ambition and insanity, she maintains. And people need to pay their dues to get to where they are in the restaurant business. But her lessons on tenacity extend well beyond the culinary profession. By the end of the interview, I feel empowered to conquer the world. Well, maybe just my next writing assignment.
“I’m proud I had the strength, love and courage to become who I am today,” she reflects. “I’m proud that I haven’t given up and that my dreams are still big no matter how crazy people think I am. I’ll be even prouder when I accomplish my goals. I’m stoked. I’m ready for it.”
We’re part of it now, ready for it, too.
May your goals be as big as your smile,