FCSI senior associate member Laura Lentz works for Culinary Advisors in Maryland, US. She talks to Michael Jones about her career and areas of expertise
What projects are you working on?
I am currently in the final stages of the design of an exciting new restaurant for Sagamore Development, opening this spring. The Sagamore Rye Whiskey Restaurant will be one of the first venues to open in the $5.5bn redevelopment and renewal project in Port Covington in Baltimore, Maryland. I have two other hospitality renovations in the downtown DC area currently under design. I am also working with a number of clients, including food manufacturing R&D spaces and B&I headquarters serveries.
What do you specialize in?
With my BA in Hotel Administration and a hospitality background, this area remains my passion and strongest discipline. I have built a strong practice in corporate services, healthcare and higher education. I am also building a background in government and K-12 education. I have enjoyed the adventures of international design work as I think it makes for a stronger perspective, particularly as international cuisine plays such an integral part of serveries in the US. The one skill I try to master is the ability to listen and hear what a client wants, even when it may not be what they are saying.
What do you enjoy most about work?
I love creating something that satisfies a client’s need. Both my parents are architects and I grew up running blueprints for my father while they built our home and then later a spec house. This profession is an extension of what I learned from them. I love that each client is unique, bringing their own experiences and expectations. I enjoy creating a design that hasn’t been done before and building a relationship with each client. I like breaking down barriers, exposing kitchens and mixing seating.
What does being an FCSI mean to you?
FCSI is both a standard and a resource in my eyes. As a standard, it sets members apart. It is easy to see what great working partnerships and relationships can be formed. Every consultant must push themselves and constantly seek better ways to design kitchens and solve problems.
What are your goals for 2017?
One of the best things about my job is the opportunity to look at things with fresh eyes. I’ve embraced REVIT completely. It is a great tool for our industry. My goals continue to be to learn and improve our technology. I am currently seeking professional membership in FCSI and am active in both Women In Healthcare and Society for Hospitality and Foodservice Management.
I believe strongly in mentors. Mine have included: William Eaton FFCSI, Robert Ormston of FDS Design Studio, Bernadette Ventura of Health Care Service Corporation, P J Gavin of RPI Industries and Michael Pantano FFCSI of Culinary Advisors. I am certain that I wouldn’t be where I am today without their encouragement and advice.
What in your life are you proudest of?
It’s a little known fact, but I was part of the 4-H agricultural organization and, in fifth grade, I won the state championship for cow judging. It taught me you never know what you’re good at until you try it. I am proud of completing four marathons and a number of half marathons and that I dared apply to and graduate from Cornell University. I’m proud that some of my projects have hit home runs and as a result I’ve enjoyed repeat clients.
What are your interests outside work?
Hiking, particularly in the Rocky Mountains. I am close to my family, and I keep an active bucket list that includes parasailing, hot air ballooning and visiting Niagara Falls. I am always mindful of my Dad saying: “every day is a gift.”