Serving foreign dignitaries and military generals doesn’t come without a certain amount of pressure, according to recent Starkey graduate David Strait.
“My most stressful moment as an Enlisted Aide was the first dinner I ever did,” Mr. Strait said. “I did not fully understand the timing of everything. I ended up having dinner served about a half hour to 45 minutes late.”
That blunder happened over 300 dinners ago. And Mr. Strait, the self-proclaimed “king of prep,” has never served dinner late since.
He’ll take that discipline and skill he’s cultivated over his career to serve in the position he accepted as a Household Manager/Chef for a highly successful couple with the intent of making a difference in their world.
“Mr. Strait, former Sergeant in the U.S. Army, is one of our honored Enlisted Aides who served his general and graduated from the Starkey Household Management program with the intent of finding a couple much like the generals he has served in the past to serve,” Mrs. Starkey said. “Mr. Strait, through his many years in service, grew his management abilities, his culinary abilities, and his people smarts to be a very good leader.”
Mr. Strait assumed his role as Household Manager at the 16,000-square-foot property this spring. Mr. Strait’s role includes culinary and security duties, as well as the supervision of a housekeeper and a ranch hand. The entire property, located outside of Phoenix, is 250 acres.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge, this being the largest house I’ve ever worked in,” Mr. Strait said. “Definitely taking charge of a full-time staff is all very exciting and something I’m looking forward to.”
Mr. Strait, originally from Billings, Mont., joined the Army in 2005, where he kept busy serving meals to 2,000 soldiers per day at Fort Hood, Texas. Mass-producing food at those kinds of volumes was challenging for Strait, who loves culinary creativity.
“You can’t play with the food. You can’t put your heart and soul into it,” he said.
Mr. Strait’s superiors recognized the maturity and mentality he had and recommended he become an Enlisted Aide, the military equivalent to a Household Manager. He went on to serve seven different general officers both in Washington, D.C. and Fort Hood, Texas.
“My love for the culinary arts didn’t develop until I became an Enlisted Aide in 2010,” he said, adding that he worked for an executive chef who taught him everything from classical French cooking, to presentation, to proper food cutting technique.
Over the course of Mr. Strait’s Enlisted Aide career, he has hosted more than 300 formal dinner events for the distinguished guests of his military officers. It was at these events that Mr. Strait started mastering his culinary crowd-pleasers, such as his spinach and mushroom beef tenderloin roulade with white wine truffle sauce, as well as his bacon-wrapped chestnuts with Worcestershire caramel sauce.
He’s gathered many accolades along the way, including two gold medals and a silver and a bronze medal at the 37th Annual Culinary Competition at Fort Lee. One of the gold medals was for Mr. Strait’s 5’6” chocolate sculpture of a Texas Ranger cowboy that weighed 600 pounds.
Mr. Strait completed his Starkey courses during the fall of 2019 at The Starkey Mansion, and says the tools he gained will help him immensely in his new role as a Household Manager/Chef. During his training, Mrs. Starkey began to see clearly who the perfect employer would be for him.
“When I first became an Enlisted Aide, I heard about the Starkey program. I told myself, ‘I’m going to become a Starkey graduate,'” Mr. Strait said. “That’s what I told myself over 10 years ago.”
For more information about Starkey's current course offerings, check out our current 2020 course schedule, or email Xavier Medicin, Starkey's Director of Education, at firstname.lastname@example.org.