Alum Credits Time at Poole College for Career that Combines Accounting and Cuisine
Not many accountants get to bounce around from sitting behind a desk to working on the line at some of New York’s most prestigious restaurants, but Chris Safadi is not your average accountant. He was six years into a career with the international tax practice of Deloitte in New York City when he enrolled as a student at the International Culinary Center in SoHo.
“I always had an interest in cooking and food and dreamed of going to culinary school,” Safadi explains. “So I figured why not moonlight as a culinary student in the evenings while putting in long hours at a Big Four firm?”
After years at Deloitte, focusing on tax law and compliance for financial service and insurance clients, he decided to change course and work as a cook for The Modern, a Michelin-starred restaurant in the Museum of Modern Art. “I loved working in the kitchen, but after years at a Big Four accounting firm, the pay difference was a little hard to swallow.”
So when Safadi was approached with the opportunity to take a position as a financial controller for Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, he jumped. “It was the best of both worlds – I was able to use my accounting background while spending some time working in the kitchen.”
Two years later, he made another move to the accounting group at Momofuku as the company’s senior director of finance and accounting. Momofuku, started by internationally acclaimed chef David Chang, is home to 14 different restaurants from New York to Syndey, Australia, along with a host of other ventures.
“My job at Momofuku is very multifaceted and ranges from leading the annual financial audits to annual tax return engagements. With the variety offerings Momofuku deals in, I have to look into international tax issues and vendor payments,” Safadi says. “There’s a lot to keep up with, but I still find time to step into the kitchen, connect with our chefs and work in the back of the house.”
With recent events surrounding COVID-19, which has had a major impact on the hospitality industry, Safadi has found himself dealing with a host of other issues like debt and equity financing that he couldn’t have anticipated a year ago. “This has been a challenging time that has tested our industry, but our finance team’s knowledge and experience has helped us work through this time in hopes of coming back on the other side even stronger,” Safadi says.
Safadi credits his time at the Poole College of Management, where he received both his undergraduate and master’s degrees in accounting, for giving him the foundation to build a career that combines his interests with his skillset.
“I’m very passionate about this industry, so being able to use the things I learned during my time at Poole, especially in the Jenkins MAC program, is something I’m truly grateful for,” Safadi says.