July 2017 Chef of the Month John Offerdahl

Offerdahls Pic 1John Offerdahl began his professional football career in 1986, when he was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the second round. John was an inside linebacker, and had an extremely successful professional football career spanning a total of 8 years. He founded his first restaurant, Offerdahl’s Bagel Gourmet, while he was still playing football professionally, igniting his passion of freshly made food eventually leading to the creation of his quick-service chain of restaurants now known as Offerdahl’s Off the Grill.

Recently we had the opportunity to speak with John and we’re so thrilled to have him as our July Chef of the Month. Keep reading to learn more about his time on and off the grill, and words of wisdom for future chefs looking to enter the industry.

1. After your incredibly successful career in professional football, what got you interested in the food business?

I was in the midst of contract negotiations with the team – actually the longest holdout in Miami Dolphins history – and during that time my wife Lynn and I started doing research into the food business, especially bagels, knowing that my professional career could potentially end at any moment! We happened to be in the market at a time when new technology, including a new type of bagel-manufacturing machine that made the process much more efficient and cost-effective, was revolutionizing the industry by combining two separate processes into one. We asked our lawyer at the time if we should really attempt to enter the restaurant business, and he began asking us questions: Where did we grow up? Do you have any previous restaurant experience? Business experience? It became painfully clear that we had all the wrong answers to these questions. Despite that, he later sent us a package saying his answer was inside, and low-and-behold it was a bagel toaster.

2. Tell us a about your restaurant, Offerdahl’s Off the Grill.

We are a fast-casual diner specializing in providing fresh, healthy choices that let you leave feeling refreshed, not weighed down! Since our founding in 2000, we have grown to six stores around South Florida.

3. What is your favorite hobby/pastime to participate in outside of work?

Bridge. I love the game and it is by far one of my favorite pastimes. I play every Wednesday with a group of four close friends. It gets extremely competitive and I absolutely love it! It keeps my mind sharp.

4. How many employees do you have at your stores?

We have more than 120 employees across our six stores.

5. What made you choose Chef Uniforms as your uniform supplier for over 120 employees and are you satisfied with the service you have been provided?

We are not only beyond satisfied, we love them! I walk into our stores and I am so proud of the way my employees look. A combination of factors – the branding, the embroidery, the styling, it just all comes together really nicely. I wear mine almost every workday! They hide grease and stains really well, especially due to the dark colors we chose. Most importantly though was the customer service Chef Uniforms provided. My wife Lynn said she was so impressed by how responsive you guys were as a company and by how well we were able to work together as partners to create this uniform line.

6. What is your favorite/best dish you have ever made?

The Inside Lineburger! I love making them because I can customize it with whatever ingredients I want in the burgers, creating new tastes and flavors! The largest one I’ve ever made was about the size of my grill!

7. Tell us a little about the charitable work you do.

Working through a charitable Foundation I created called the Handoff Foundation, we assist in enabling the homeless to get off the street and focus on rebuilding their lives. We also host an annual charity event called the Gridiron Grilloff – a premier venue where football and food meet. As a food, wine, tailgate festival, it is a fun way to support the less fortunate by bringing together professional Dolphins players with some of South Florida’s best professional chefs!

8. What’s the best piece of advice you would give aspiring chefs?

The best piece of advice I could give to people considering entering the restaurant business would be to keep your 40 hour a week job and spend another 20 hours on top of that in working in the food industry. Not only will that give you appreciation for what working in food is like, but it will also give you an idea of how much time is required for a successful career in the restaurant industry. 60-hour work weeks are not only common, but nearly required for success! Also, I’m a big believer in pursuing your dreams, because after all, who would have thought I could have entered the bagel business!

Stay connected with our July Chef of the Month:

Website: http://www.offerdahls.com/

Instagram: @johnofferdahl

Twitter: @GridironGriller

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