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Cleghorn honored for 25 years on job
By Floyd Miller
On Jan. 2, Stephonse Cleghorn celebrated 26 years with his employer, Cotton Patch Café, who honored him last year on his 25th anniversary with the company. There is only one person in the Cotton Patch organization that has more time than Cleghorn.
He said that his daddy taught him and his brother to cook when he was 8 or 9. His dad told them that “if you marry or have a significant other and they get upset at you, you are going to have to fend for yourselves.”
His dad also told them, “women like men who can cook.”
Cleghorn said that his cooking skills really began to come together when he worked for Mr. Clyde Davis at the Royal Inn. “Mr. Davis was a famous steak guy,” Cleghorn said.
Cleghorn would also talk with his dad at the end of his work day. His dad, Larry D. Smith, played a pivotal role in him honing his cooking skills. Other individuals that Cleghorn considers as mentors are Mr. J. D. Battles, Mr. Matthew Tuck and Mr. James Garrett.
Cleghorn said he shows up for work every day because he likes the people that he works with. “They are family,” he said. “I have become a mentor to individuals; they know that they can confide in me and that I will keep the information confidential…I like going there because I meet different people in the kitchen and in the dining room.”
Cleghorn’s typical work day starts at about 8 a.m. “My primary job is to prep everything,” he said. “My manager gives me a list. I get everything set up. Everything is cooked from scratch. I make sure that everything is ready for that first customer that shows up at 11:00 a.m.”
Cleghorn said he can do it all so if co-worker needs help, he doesn’t mind lending a hand.
He even enjoys working on busy days, like Sundays. “I like the Sunday crowd; I know a lot of the people that come in,” he said.
He said the thing that makes a restaurant run well is when everyone is working as a team. “The greeters, the wait staff and the kitchen staff have to work together; a weak link at any position can affect the outcome,” Cleghorn said.
Good employees will always have a job, and if you are doing what you are supposed to “no one will take your job,” he said.
Cleghorn said the best advice he has ever received is, “Be calm, don’t over think yourself and be patient.”
The food business is one of the first jobs that young people get when entering the workforce for the first time, and Cleghorn offers them some tips. He listed the following in this order: practice good hygiene, wear clean clothes, use proper etiquette, no street slang, and complete the application. He noted that if you don’t complete the application, it means you don’t pay attention to detail. “You won’t get the job,” he said.
Cleghorn does have an interest outside of cooking which is photography. Every year he spends a week in Addison, Texas, with some of the world’s best photographers, improving his skills. He is a member of a local photography club and can do about any type of photography that you can think of. Most of his work has been in portraits, weddings and pet photography.
If you like Cleghorn’s cooking you will probably like his photography. He pays attention to detail in both professions.
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