We had the good fortune of connecting with Nicholas Walker and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Nicholas, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
Work-Life balance is such an incredibly important piece of the puzzle in Food & Beverage. It gets taken for granted and overlooked so much in our profession. Chefs have a tendency to be workaholics. Often working 60-80 hours a week on a trash salary. This was my schedule for the better part of 2 decades. Working from 10am-midnight or 2am even sometimes. No days off for months straight. No life, only work. Using some spare time for partying and shenanigans. I’ve pushed my career incredibly far with that lifestyle, but my personal life suffered for a long time. I’ve changed this for myself as I’ve matured in my career. Where I used to think as many hours as possible is all that mattered, that you needed to prove your work ethic. My views have changed dramatically since then. Now, I strongly believe that every hour you work past 50, you become less and less effective. I think if you’re working over 50 hours, you should strongly evaluate what you actually get done in a day, work in your prioritizing and scheduling. Having a personal life outside of work is so important. Hobbies, love life, downtime, relaxation… these are all things that make you a happy person. What you do outside of work is just as important as what you do when you’re there. My wife, Emily, hated the hours I was working when we first met. She’s slowly but surely over time pushed me to start taking more time off during the week and I couldn’t be more thankful for her doing that. She’s made me realize some of the more important things in life that need my attention. Her and my kids are definitely the priority. They are my world. Things I would’ve never seen or realized were it not for my wife.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’ve been pretty fortunate throughout my career move revealed accross the country and worked under some great chefs at great restaurants. Cleveland OH, Charlotte NC, Orange County CA, Miami FL, and now Dallas TX for the past 10 years. I’ve learned lots of technique and skills pertaining to many cuisines over the years. I’ve matured a lot over the past 20 years, in my food, my management and menu planning. Learned the compromise of creating food that people enjoy and satisfies my chef itch. Food that is approachable, but also is profitable and I can be proud of. I’ve learned to work with difficult people, how to operate effectively in high stress environments and make multiple good decisions under pressure. I stay busy now managing executive Chef’s and giving them the tools they need to be successful, guiding them through managing their business the right way, responsibly, professionally and effectively. I do recipe creation, help drive and forge concepts and give them a foundation to be successful.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
“Mot hai ba” for dinner “The Charles” for drinks and bites
“Pecan Lodge” for bbq
“Meridian” for dinner
“Monarch” for cocktails and bites
“55Seventy” for drinks and snacks
“El Carlos” for dinner and drinks
“La Mina” for drinks and snacks and dancing
“Uchi” for bites
“Ten Ramen” for a lunch bowl!
“Petra and the beast” for a tasting
“Lucia” for dinner
“Rosewood Mansion” for brunch
“Canne Rosa” for a lunch pizza
“Maple & Motor” for a burger

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I wouldn’t be here without my wife. She’s helped me mature not only in my career but in life. She’s changed me in ways that I thought stunted my growth at first, but ultimately made me more successful. She’s made me focus more on my personal life, forcing me to be more effective at my job during my time while I’m actually working. This makes a 75-80 hour work week consolidated to down to a 50 hour week, instead of working a 16 hour day, aimlessly sometimes, with no real finish time, I now have a return home time! This has increased my ability to get my job done more effectively and enjoy personal time with my wife and kids. Things you didn’t think were possible until you get the right push. This I only have her to thank for. Were it not for her, I’d still be working crazy hours and still not have a personal life to enjoy. I also owe a lot to my first professor, chef Tim Michitsch. He’s been a huge influence in my life from the start. Shown me how to lead by example and how to execute food properly. He’s shown me that you don’t settle for less than perfection and integrity is everything.
Lastly, I wouldn’t be here without the people in my career, who’ve shown me what NOT to do. I’ll leave them unnamed, but these are the people who I’m thankful I’ve had the “privilege” to have worked with. They’ve helped me forge my management style and the best technique. They’ve given me the know how of what not to do. They’ve been a big part of me knowing what works best for me and how to treat people, guests, others around me and my family and for that, I thank them!

Website: www.irreverentconcepts.com + www.thevillagedallas.com

Instagram: @chefnickwalker

Linkedin: @chefnickwalker

Youtube: Irreverent concepts

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutDFW is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.