Before Tony Spoon’s best friend, Ethan, became a firefighter, he had a dream of going to culinary school and becoming a chef. Ethan was actually accepted into the fire department academy before culinary school, so he accepted and kept his culinary dreams to the kitchen at the firehouse. This is where Tony began to learn how to cook; he and Ethan would mess around in the kitchen after hours. While Tony had never dreamed of going to culinary school, he credits Ethan for sparking his interest in cooking.
As an EMT for the fire department in his small town of Jefferson City, TN, Tony was in and out of Jefferson Memorial Hospital quite often. He spent a good amount of time in the café and formed a relationship with the food service director, Susan Murphy. She eventually offered him a part-time job as a grill cook. Only knowing a little about cooking from those after-hours at the fire station, Tony accepted.
After a few months of cooking part-time, he quit his job as a fireman to work full-time in the kitchen. Fast forward a few more months, and Tony developed a relationship with Peter Lanois, the Regional Director of Operations over the foodservice at the hospital. Peter raised the idea of moving Tony into a cook position at Lakeway Regional Hospital, to which–no surprise–Tony said “yes,” with excitement.
Tony excelled as a cook and was then offered a place in Morrison’s formally known as Manager in Training (MIT) program. The MIT program blends a variety of experiences, so trainees walk away with a full toolbox of skills through distance, self-directed, and in-person managerial training programs. During his time as an MIT, Tony spent about a year traveling with John Grimes, Regional Executive Chef (REC). Through John, he learned different ways of doing things, how to manage his time better, how to work a new business opening, and much more. “John and I probably spent three months of our lives attached at the hip,” said Tony.
Next, he graduated from the MIT program and became a Sous Chef at Newport Medical Center. For the next year, Tony began traveling into this role to support openings and local accounts. “I loved my account, I loved my team, but one of my favorite things was getting out and helping the accounts that need it,” he said. He spent a lot of time with Corporate Chef Rob Passmore on opening new business. They would work all day and, in the evening, go over Tony’s knife skills.
Chef Bradley Czajka is another one of Tony’s great mentors. Bradley said, “Tony is the nicest, most genuine man. I am so proud of how far he’s grown and how much he has matured. The leaders at Morrison love him; I get requests all the time from all over the country to bring Tony to their upcoming openings.”
Tony spent a brief amount of time as the Executive Chef at Turkey Creek and then worked his way into his current role of Regional Executive Chef. Tony said, “Any time an opportunity came up, I would always try to put myself at the front of the line for it. If anyone asked for something, I would always say yes.”
Reflecting back on his first job at the company, he still talks to his first director Susan from time to time. Tony said, “I don’t know why she picked me, but I am so thankful that she kick-started my career with Morrison Healthcare.”
“A passion of mine is to develop others. I was brought up on the path of, ‘let me teach you so you can grow,’ so I try to grow people the same way I was grown.”