Jennifer Maune, a finalist on “Master Chef: United Tastes of America,” recently accepted a job as a line cook at Sullivan’s Steakhouse in Little Rock. The chef said she sought out the position so she would be better prepared to open her own restaurant, which she plans to do this fall.

 

“I spent eight years working in the front of house in restaurants years ago, and I’ve also washed dishes, bussed tables,” she said. “I got to be a part of the opening of a restaurant, so I saw that process come together, and I also, in culinary school, spent two semesters working on the line in the kitchen at various stages, but I realized, before I open a restaurant, I really wanted to get more experience working as a line cook and a prep cook.”

 

She added that she applied to Sullivan’s because she was hoping to find a restaurant with a from-scratch kitchen that had multiple locations and would allow her to learn about all aspects of cooking and prep work, as well as corporate structure. 

 

“I think any great leader needs to understand every position in their organization, and that’s what I’m setting out to be is a great leader and open something that’s truly special in Arkansas and perfecting that and then seeing it grow across the country,” she said. “I’m scrubbing the floors. I’m staying late, cleaning and sanitizing and all of that, and it’s because when I’m operating my own restaurant and I have people doing the same thing under my leadership, I want them to know that I’ve done it too.”

 

She first announced her new position at Sullivan’s in a Facebook post that she said now has more than 175,000 views.

 

“There are some people that commented that plan to travel into the state to come to my restaurant, so to see all the excitement from fellow Arkansans from all over the state about my restaurant, it means so much to me,” she said. “It’s thrilling. It makes me very excited about the future.”  

 

She added that she hopes the experience will allow her to better build and manage a staff locally and scale the concept as she opens restaurants across the state and country. 

 

“I know for sure that I am on the right path, and I’m just so passionate about my restaurant concept and what I want to do in the future,” she said. “One of my priorities is to bring a James Beard-award-winning restaurant to Arkansas, and so everything that I’m doing now is about learning and perfecting my craft.”

 

She added that she hopes to announce more details about the restaurant in the next few weeks. Fans can visit her online shop, jennifermaune.com/shop, to order Mother’s Day gifts, including Heritage seasoning sets, bouquet-shaped charcuterie boards and the “I love you” cakes made famous during the “Master Chef” finale.

 

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