Vol. 1: Justin Thompson ’98 and Myles McClanahan ’98
A Recipe for Success.
The Holland Hall “Mise-en-Place.”
Step into the kitchen of any of Justin Thompson’s restaurants, and you’ll be greeted warmly by friendly staff and conceptual, cozy decor. You’ll hear the signature shake of craft cocktails and smell the fresh, seasonal ingredients on the night’s menu. In some, you’ll even catch a glimpse into the kitchen as detail-oriented expeditors place the final touches on perfectly-timed dishes. What you won’t see is the work that goes into creating this seamless experience – the planning, creativity, and preparation. What you won’t see is the “mise-en-place.”Mise-en-place (pronounced meez-ahn-plahs) or the “Meez,” as chefs call it, is a French term that translates roughly into “everything in its place.” In practice, it involves studying a recipe then bringing together the necessary tools, equipment, and prepared ingredients before cooking begins. Anthony Bourdain calls it “the religion of all good line cooks” while writers such as Ron Friedman of the Harvard Business Review and Dan Charnas, author of Work Clean, take the concept out of the kitchen and into everyday life. Friedman says we should start each day with an “intellectual mise-en-place” where you visualize the successful outcome of your day the same way a chef would visualize a perfect final dish. Charnas offers ten principles of mise-en-place for chefs and non-chefs alike that signify an entire lifestyle of readiness and engagement. In and out of the kitchen, the “Meez” is every way in which you are prepared to succeed.Local chefs and Holland Hall alumni Justin Thompson ’98 and Myles McClanahan ’98, have perfected their “Meez” as evidenced by their thriving culinary careers. You don’t run a restaurant empire (JTR Group) or lead the kitchen of a behemoth brand (the Hyatt Corporation)without it. Justin began his career in Tulsa in 2002 as Sous Chef of the Polo Grill. Early success provided him the opportunity to build and develop Ciao, Baby! and Osage Restaurant in Gilcrease Museum. Other notable roles before opening his own restaurants include the Executive Chef title at The Brasserie, Sonoma, and Duke’s. Justin now owns and operates Juniper, Tavolo, Prhyme, 624 Catering, and Mixco through the Justin Thompson Restaurants Group. Myles began as a short-order cook and is now the Executive Chef at the Hyatt Regency Tulsa. He also spent time as the Executive Chef at Wolfgang Puck Bistro and Chef at Elements in River Spirit Casino.Both chefs worked their way up in restaurants, learning the industry from bottom to top while earning the respect and trust required to be a leader. But they had a secret ingredient along the way; an element to their “intellectual mise-en-place” that added to their recipe for success – Holland Hall.When asked if and how Holland Hall played a role in his career success, Myles said, “Going to Holland Hall helped prepare me for success in two ways. The first was high expectations. The standards were set high which resulted in the development of a strong work ethic and time-management skills. The second was critical thinking — learning to analyze and evaluate issues objectively. These two things have played the biggest roles in my success to date.”Strong work ethic. Time-management skills. Critical thinking. As we see in the varied paths to success Holland Hall alumni take, once those tools and ingredients are pulled together, you have the “Meez” to succeed in any endeavor.