Raised by a single mother in Birmingham, AL, Chef Brian Wilkinson started cooking at a young age, inheriting his grandpa’s marinara recipe that fueled his culinary passion. Assuming leadership at family cookouts was instinctual for him, as was cooking for his friends, and it was here he recognized that both guiding and cooking were his creative outlets.
Chef Brian attended a small culinary school in his hometown, and upon graduating, came across a job posting for a restaurant named L’etoile in Charlottesville, Virginia. After a few years at L’etoile, Chef Brian followed a few cooks to the Clifton Inn, where the new chef there needed a pastry chef. Even though Chef Brian had never worked pastry, he discovered a newfound passion. He was good at the basics and really enjoyed doing it. After a year of crafting his own desserts, he decided it was time to spread his wings and learn more. A former cook he had worked with had moved to New York, so he called him up and asked if his restaurant was hiring in pastry. As fate would have it, they were indeed hiring and Chef Brian decided it was time to move to the Big Apple. He began his big city career working for Bouley, one of New York’s top fine-dining restaurants, before moving on to Eleven Madison Park, a 3-Michelin-star gem that has also been ranked among the world’s 50 best restaurants.
Chef Brian gained his vast expertise from NYC’s cultural melting pot. Most proud of his experience as a pastry sous chef at Eleven Madison Park, he’s learned to thrive in an environment that fosters culinary excellence and innovation.
Aside from enjoying movies at home with his wife and expanding his vast Lego® collection, Chef Brian is incredibly passionate about creating strategic solutions to help his customers thrive in the most competitive restaurant scene in the country. As he explains, “as a chef, my calling extends beyond the kitchen. I’m dedicated to coaching and empowering people to elevate their businesses.”
Admittedly frugal himself, Chef Brian translates that into his role of helping chefs operate more efficiently and sustainably. He champions resource consolidation and waste reduction, focusing on elevating plate value while minimizing food costs. “I love showing people the breadth of what we offer,” says Chef Brian. For him, Sysco’s offerings extend far beyond what meets the eye, and he takes great pride in demonstrating how to utilize Sysco products to create fine dining dishes and experiences.
As a Culinary Specialist in the NY-Metro region, Chef Brian finds immense satisfaction in guiding restaurants toward uncharted culinary territories. With a keen eye for innovation, he asserts he “spends more time on Sysco Shop than anyone else,” scouring the inventory and unearthing exciting new products. Sharing his discoveries with clients brings him joy, as he takes pleasure in showcasing the endless possibilities Sysco offers.
Chef Brian Wilkinson’s favorite quote:
“All your effort is useless if you do not believe in yourself. ”