Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month: Dwight Penney
Dwight Penney, Executive Pastry Chef with Bon Appetit Management Company, is passionate about life and keeping his heritage alive through the dishes he prepares and the stories he tells his kids. Read his story to learn why Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month is so important to him.
What does Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month mean to you and why is it important to celebrate?
This month means a celebration of my traditions and culture and it’s a time to spread knowledge and recognize those who have made an impact on our world. It helps keep the heritage alive. I was born and raised in the U.S. and I keep my family’s heritage alive by sharing stories with my kids that were shared with me. Storytelling has been key to keeping me connected to my roots and I want the same for my kids.
How does your heritage influence your work as a chef?
As a chef, I put a little twist on most things I cook to represent my heritage. Be it adding coconut, mango, citrus fruit, and some single origin chocolates or cooking techniques…I try to infuse something from my culture into my meals.
One of our greatest strengths at Compass is the diversity of our people. How do you bring your authentic self to work?
In my personal life, I’m very passionate, kind, caring and thoughtful. I feel welcomed to bring my true character into work every day! I build and promote diversity and inclusion in as many ways as possible so the people I work with feel encouraged to do the same. I really believe that building a diverse and inclusive culture helps everybody learn and grow – we all share a passion for hospitality and creating amazing food. There is not just one way to complete a project or one way to prepare a dish; it’s important that we learn from each other.
What career opportunities has Compass enabled you to take advantage of?
In 2016, I worked for Compass at the Cleveland Museum of Art with such incredible people and was able to grow their Pastry department by introducing in-house ice creams, breads, breakfast pastries and many petit four selections. I left the company to pursue other opportunities and four years later, I got a call for an opportunity to return to Compass at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC as the Executive Pastry Chef – a literal dream job! Leadership at Compass remembered my hard work, dedication and passion for hospitality, caring for employees and creating great food! Working at the Met continues to push me to grow and refine my culinary craft and I’m thankful to Compass for the opportunity.