At just 19 years old, line cook Malik Lane has a bright future – and he knows it. “If there could be a Michael Jordan of the culinary field, that would be me,” he says when thinking about his career trajectory. Currently, Lane works for Palace Café, the Brennan-owned restaurant along Canal Street that’s a favorite for tourists and locals alike.
We spoke with Lane to learn more about his work as a cook and why the best part of the job is delivering that “ ‘Oh, my God’ moment” for customers tasting his incredible dishes. Lane sees a direct connection between New Orleans’ hospitality industry and his career as a chef – tourism is how.
How long have you lived in New Orleans?
Almost 2 years.
What do you love most about this city?
The people and the energy. They have won this city a permanent place in my heart.
Tell us about your role as a line cook at Palace Café.
My role is to make my greatest effort to make sure our customers get the best food I can possibly cook. It is hard work, and I love every minute of it.
What path led you to this point in your career? How did your career in tourism begin?
I have been in love with food since I was a child. I have wanted to be a chef for as long as I can remember.
What do you love most about your job?
Working with such great chefs is such an honor for me. They make me better. The best part of my job is that, “Oh, my God,” moment the customer has when they taste the good food I make.
Tell us about the experience you had when your parents came in town and visited Palace Café.
It was a very proud moment to have my parents come and see how great I am becoming.
At 19 years old, you’re in a great position as Line Cook with a promising career path ahead of you. What advice would you give others your age in New Orleans about choosing a positive life path, perhaps in the tourism industry?
My advice is to know what you want, and keep your eye on that. Working in the field I’m in, at my age, has taught me to always be humble because there is always something that can be learned.
Where do you see yourself in the future? What would you like to accomplish?
I see myself owning multiple restaurants around the country. If there could be a Michael Jordan of the culinary field, that would be me.
How does our thriving tourism industry affect restaurants in our city?
It gives them the business they need, and it keeps them at a higher standard in a way because there are so many restaurants for travelers to choose from.
How is your job personally affected by tourism?
Our location, reputation, and great food are almost like bait. The tourists flock here, and I get to experience cooking at a high volume. Tourism makes the difference between a slow day, and a high octane, face-paced service.
What does tourism mean to you as a local?
It keeps the party going!
What do you think New Orleans would look like without tourism?
Without the huge tourism industry, I feel like there would be [fewer] restaurants and industrial buildings.
NEW ORLEANS WILL…
Get me started the right way!