Mary Springer graduated from Canyon High School in Santa Clarita in 2006. After earning a CRA Ed Foundation scholarship, Mary went on to study hospitality and tourism management and restaurant operations at San Diego State University. She graduated in the spring of 2011 and now works for Brad Metzger Restaurant Solutions as a management recruiter.
WHo has been your biggest career influence?
It’s hard to say one person who has been the biggest influence in my career. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and working with many great people, who probably had a greater impact on my outlook in my career than they would realize. I believe in always allowing yourself to be inspired! Although, at this point I’ve pretty much always asked Carl Winston, School Director of the L. Robert Payne School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, his opinion on career moves, even if I haven’t always done what he’s recommended.
Who is your culinary idol?
I’ve had the pleasure of working with and meeting many of L.A.’s finest chef’s and restaurateurs. But one person that I have not had to pleasure of meeting or working with, but I who think is brilliant, is Bill Chait. He opened a restaurant near my home and of course I was so excited that I went in opening night. I couldn’t get a table until the last seating and was there pretty late, but I saw that he was there working and making sure everything was okay until pretty much the end of the night! I came back a week later (yes it was that good) and AGAIN he was there making sure everything was okay. He’s one that I get really excited about when he is creating something new.
What is your signature dish?
A grain (lentils, quinoa, etc.) and Parmesan Broccoli. Cook Broccoli in a pan with oil, water, black pepper, and Lawry’s seasoning salt and throw some fresh Parmesan on there. Eat over a bed of Lentils or something like that.
What is your favorite restaurant in California?
That is extremely difficult to say. I feel like I find a new favorite restaurant all the time! My flavor of week is a small restaurant in Studio City called the Tuning Fork.
WHat advice would you give to high school students interested in the hospitality and culinary industries?
It’s easy to get fixated and entirely focused on the company you’re working for, or your own little world you’re working in. Don’t forget to see the bigger picture and pay attention to what else is out there. Allow yourself to be inspired again. If you’re getting burnt out, take a day or weekend trip to another city and see what’s going on in the restaurant scene there. It may be something new and fresh and give you a new perspective! This is a business of passion, but it’s easy to get stuck in the day to day.
What made your college experience unique?
I had a lot of different hobbies and things that interested me in college, so I broke away from the mold a little. I was in a Co-ed Business Fraternity. I was in a play. I tried Speech and Debate for a bit. I even minored in English. I did all of these (and more!) just because they were things that I was interested in and wanted to experience while I had the chance. When I heard they were thinking of starting a restaurant focused organization, I jumped on the opportunity was very heavily involved in that my last two years. It took five years to get my degree, but I can say that I experienced it all and left feeling fulfilled. I never had a shortage of classes I was taking, but for me it was more about the experiences outside of them.
How did your CRAEF scholarship benefit you?
It was really life changing for me. I was working two jobs trying to support myself while at San Diego State. Getting the scholarship allowed me to work a lot less and concentrate on extracurricular and student organizations, particularly the restaurant club, SDSU Foodies, which I served as President. I really think that being able to focus on this is what helped me get job offers upon graduation and has even helped me in my career growth up to today.
okay, last question: what would your last meal be?
As much as I love artisanal fresh farm-to-table cuisine, I would probably go with Cheese Fries as my last meal.