At Your Service: John Korycki
May 01, 2019
When did you start working at The Bartolotta Restaurants?
I worked with Chef Paul Bartolotta in Chicago at the acclaimed restaurant Spiaggia many years ago. After opening a restaurant in Kalamazoo, Michigan, as well as extensive educational travels to Italy, I came back to Milwaukee in 2018 to work as Executive Chef at Harbor House.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Eating right. Everyone thinks all chefs eat well. After a long busy day in the kitchen, you sometimes have to ask yourself “what did I really eat today?”. We continuously taste and spot-check sauces, vegetables, etc. – a teaspoon at a time. After a while, you feel full and your palate is tired, and you don’t have a taste for anything. Secondly, as the chef responsible for the menu and the food, it’s a pretty big challenge to create a menu and offer your dishes to hundreds of guests daily… guests with different sets of taste-buds, expectations, and opinions!
What advice do you have for people starting in the industry?
Have fun and keep learning! You have to have a great attitude and love what you do in order to work together as a team with the long, crazy and chaotic hours of the kitchen. Never stop learning from the people around you. Everyone has great ideas, recipes, methods, and techniques from their past experiences, and it’s so great to share them.
What is your favorite part of the job?
There are so many things that are my favorite, not just one! I love hearing and sharing stories of eating, recipes and food products and sources. For example, the Alaskan halibut at Harbor House that came off a two-day fishing boat in Kodiak, Alaska. I also love sharing victories. When a guest shares a great compliment on a dish or meal they enjoyed, I introduce them to the kitchen team that cooked it for them. I make sure that those compliments get heard by the rest of my team, they deserve to know how great of a job they do. I also love Table 72 at Harbor House, its the “Chef’s Table”. This table faces the exciting action of the kitchen and I'll introduce myself and my team and prepare the guests to have fun with us for the next couple of hours.
What do you like to do when not working?
I enjoy spending time with my wife Stacey as we are now somewhat new empty nesters. Our son Sam recently graduated college and lives and works in NYC, and our daughter Evan is a junior at Belmont University in Nashville. We are re-acquainting ourselves with Milwaukee, after 19 years away living in other cities in the Midwest. As an avid cyclist, I’ll hop on my bike and ride 20 to 50+ miles on a day off. I also enjoy traveling and eating. I love planning my yearly small group tours to Italy as CHEF JK TRAVELS - it's ten days of wining and dining with me as your tour guide!