One of the best moments in life is those first few seconds when I walk into a restaurant. Who would agree?!
The assortment of delectable smells wafting through the air, well, it’s just perfect. From the aroma of freshly-baked, buttery rolls to the richness of sauces simmering away in the kitchen, there’s a certain nostalgia to it all. None of which would be possible without the talented chefs behind the scenes.
There are incredible chefs worldwide. While some operate beloved “mom and pop” kitchens, others savor their experiences in high-profile restaurants or have hit it big as celebrity chefs.
Let’s express some true love and appreciation to chefs around the world — for all that you do to make the restaurant industry better and all that you have taught so many about life, leadership, and entrepreneurship.
Cheers, this one’s for you!
- Presentation matters.
I’m always in awe of the unique ways chefs present their creations. From attention-grabbers like fire or dry ice to the small, yet important details like garnishes or decorative sugars. First impressions matter, setting the stage for each encounter going forward, commanding attention, and drawing others in.
- Teachability sometimes trumps talent.
It’s easy for any of us who are involved in hiring to get caught up in finding the “most experienced” or “most talented” employee. You think, “They’ve got all of these skills. They’ll be perfect!” The reality is teachability can sometimes trump talent. Insightful chefs know that recruiting a candidate with a teachable and positive spirit can easily outrank a talented candidate with a know-it-all attitude.
- Perseverance pays off.
Perseverance is part and parcel of a successful kitchen and chef. I’ve heard tales of chefs remaking a recipe dozens of times before finally landing on the perfect mix of ingredients. Or scouring vendor offerings to find fresh meat sources or locally-grown vegetable farmers. They simply can’t rest until their edible creation is carried out to their exact specifications and standards. They have a vision, an unwavering commitment to excellence, and they persevere until goals are reached.
- Patience makes room for growth.
Similar to perseverance, patience also lands a top spot among chefs. They know that fine-tuning a recipe takes time, for instance — it’s a process not to be rushed. The same goes for curating a solid kitchen crew, uncovering their talents little by little and giving them room to grow, prosper, and find their own way. When you look at it from this angle, patience can actually be another way to show your team just how much you care.
- Service builds character.
Many of us have worked in service-oriented careers at some point in our lives. While in the midst of it, it can be difficult to see how deeply these roles can impact our character. It can teach us patience, conflict resolution, and hospitality, among several other traits. Chefs show up, day after day, in order to serve patrons a delicious meal and perhaps provide them a short, pleasant reprieve from life’s demands. Putting others first builds character, and ultimately, triggers a level of personal growth that is otherwise difficult to achieve.
- Strength in numbers.
Chefs understand that the kitchen isn’t a one-person show. It takes an entire crew of dedicated and talented individuals to run smoothly and if there is one missing link in that chain, then the entire team suffers. While chefs may be seen as the leader of their teams, they realize the whole is greater than each part.
- Know your secret ingredients.
The restaurant industry is extremely competitive, so identifying what separates your kitchen from the rest of the pack is important. The top chefs pinpoint this early on and incorporate it into everything they do. Whether you are interviewing for a position, leading a team, or starting your own business, knowing what sets you apart will carry you far.
- Focus on the end game.
If you’ve ever been in a restaurant kitchen, you know it’s a series of ups and downs, ebbing and flowing throughout each service and shift. While the day may start out on a high note, an unexpected incident — a pan left on the stove too long, ingredients missing, a staffing shortage — can throw a hitch into the best laid plans. But chefs tend to focus on the end game. Yes, each ingredient, each step in the process is key and setbacks will inevitably happen, though it’s achieving the overall goal that holds so much of the glory.
Thank you, chefs, for the valuable and impactful life and leadership lessons.