Cornesa Gilliard

Culinary Arts

Executive Chef and Manager of Restaurant on Ramada Inn Property
The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale

Cornesa Gilliard

The instructors have wonderful industry experience and will help you in any way they can. But you have to give 100%. Cornesa Gilliard , Executive Chef and Manager of Restaurant on Ramada Inn Property
Associate of Science in Culinary Arts , 2014 , The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale

Executive Chef and Manager of Restaurant on Ramada Inn Property

Chef Cornesa Gilliard is the executive chef and manager of a restaurant on the Ramada Inn property in Winter Haven, Florida. She oversees a staff of 20 people, including servers and culinary employees. “I place orders with vendors, manage and set work schedules, and create menu items for the restaurant. I also conduct staff training and certifications, control all inventory, and work closely with the sales department for banquets and special events.”

Cornesa served in the United States Navy from 1988-2008, earning the rank of MS 1st Class. She’s also worked for Yard House, Seasons 52, and the Riverside Hotel. “I moved to Orlando to work for Walt Disney World. I acquired a second job as a sous chef and in less than one month was promoted to executive chef,” she says. Cornesa takes pride in her creative plating and presentation. “Most people love the traditional foods, but with a twist. I have to keep it fresh and new.”

Her typical workday includes setting up the restaurant’s breakfast buffet. She also talks to the line cooks about what will be on the menu. Cornesa meets with the general manager to deliver daily reports on spending, invoices, and profits. And she works the omelet station as needed.

Cornesa mentions that she’s had to work harder than some of her counterparts to move up the corporate ladder. “It is very hard for women in this industry. I have had to work extra hard to prove myself. Also, I came into this industry in my 40s so I had a lot of catching up to do, but it can be done.”

Cornesa, who in 2014 earned an Associate of Science in Culinary Arts from The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, says that her education provided the tools she needed to become an efficient manager and chef. “[My education] helped me to develop a good timeline for completing tasks and to develop organizational skills that I need in the kitchen.” She recommends that current students learn all that they can and ask many questions. “The instructors have wonderful industry experience and will help you in any way they can. But you have to give 100%. There is a lot of competition out here and you have to look and act the part.”

She says that she works to be a good teacher to her employees. “I have learned from the best, so I might as well share what I have learned.” And she says that her personal experiences have helped her to grow into a successful position. “I remember being in school while working at the Riverside Hotel and the chef telling me that I did not have what it took to learn the line and become a chef. Because he did not see my potential, I worked extra hard. Do not let anyone [deter] your dream of being a success.”

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