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Restaurant Harmony & Kitchen Therapy with Jeffrey & Troy

Chefs Jeffrey Cruz & Troy Payne @ The Sum Of Us & Tom & Serg |  Dubai, UAE

When you think of a stressful working environment, a busy kitchen in a successful restaurant is right up there with the White House Situation Room. Unless, of course, you work in the kitchen at The Sum Of Us or Tom & Serg with world-class chefs Jeffrey Cruz and Troy Payne. Their secret of keeping the kitchen relaxed, safe, and therapeutic sounds simple at first, but as we chatted with the cooking duo we discovered it comes from multiple sources.

'It’s not about keeping inspired - it’s about inspiring the people around you.' Click To Tweet

The Sum of the People

The kitchen is so much more than a place where delicious meals are created. Jeffrey and Troy see it as part teaching opportunity, part family gathering place, and part sanctuary. But for both world-class chefs, it’s not the ingredients or even the recipes that makes these kitchens special, it’s the people. “It’s not about keeping inspired – it’s about inspiring the people around you. And if you inspire the people around you, that inspires me,” says Troy Payne. “Never hire a cook, you hire personalities,” Troy continues. “You hire individuals that bring character. It’s like building the Power Rangers.”

Lessons Learned

As veteran chefs, both Jeffrey and Troy understand that kitchens can become volatile environments if expectations aren’t set or the right people aren’t in place. One way they’ve managed to avoid the typical high-pressure kitchen environment is to use it as a place to teach. “You shouldn’t leave the kitchen until you’ve learned something,” preaches Jeffrey, a consummate culinary student and master chef. “I never went to culinary school. I learned everything I know from being in a kitchen and I want to share this with the next generation of chefs,” he continues.


Finding Harmony

Beyond the people and how they operate is one final pillar of mindfulness that Jeffrey and Troy hold dear to their hearts, and that’s the passion. “We cook, that’s all we do. But we get the opportunity to do something with it to make someone happy,” says Troy. “If you like doing that, it’s not stressful, it’s therapeutic,” he continues. The harmony in the kitchen is infectious and spreads throughout the entire space. We are about creating an environment of escapism in busy Dubai and for Jeffrey and Troy that always starts in the kitchen.

'Being able to talk about things, and the freedom of open speech, we’re able to help build confidence' Click To Tweet

Reflect, Respect and be Yourself

When speaking about reflection and mindfulness, Jeffrey and Troy shared a simple, but extremely effective exercise. “At the beginning and end of every day, you shake hands and you hug,” says Troy. Then they gather the entire kitchen staff and have an open forum-style conversation. It gives everyone an opportunity to share their thoughts, and strengthens the feeling of family; and if a family member isn’t happy, you find a solution as a group. “By being able to talk about things, and the freedom of open speech, we’re able to help build confidence,” says Troy.

As successful world-class chefs at The Sum Of Us and Tom & Serg, both Jeffrey and Troy are very appreciative of what they have in their life. But when asked specifically about what they are grateful for, it’s not the industry fame or restaurant write-ups, “I’m most grateful for my family. And not just my home family, but my kitchen family,” explains Troy. And for Jeffrey, it’s “being given the opportunity to be in the kitchen and be myself.”


Based on how they’ve built their teams and created a family-oriented culinary experience, The Sum of Us and Tom & Serg feels like the perfect place to find an incredible culinary experience.

Jeffrey & Troy’s questions for the KYŌ App:

  • What are you passionate about?
  • What are you grateful for?
  • How can you be yourself today?

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