When popular musicians are interviewed, an invariable question is “Who were your influences?” Both the Beatles and the Rolling Stones named Delta Blues legends like Howling Wolf and Muddy Waters as their early influences. One of Elton John’s namesakes was the legendary Long John Baldry.
Positive influences can inspire and philosophically change attitudes and perceptions – especially when the road is hard.
Success in the Hospitality business can be an arduous and challenging journey. Long hours, low pay and sometimes-stressful environments have taken their toll on many aspiring culinarians.
Not all my memories of climbing the career ladder are positive, but a few kind words and good direction along the way helped me endure and succeed.
My first mentor was Swiss Chef Karl. Chef Karl’s sage advice was “If you want to be successful in North America, learn how to make a good cup of coffee and a good hamburger.”
How very true this statement was – good coffee and gourmet hamburgers are embraced by the dining public.
Years ago, another wise chef advised me to “never throw in your apron.” Chef Veronica had a suggestion for what to do if I was ever that angry. “First cool off. Count to 10 forward and then backwards. Then take off your apron, fold it into a neat square and ask to speak to the Chef.”
During my career, I neatly folded my apron countless times, but I never threw it in. And I didn’t have to speak to the Chef either – composure saved the day!
Today as I embrace the principles of “pay it forward,” I try to be thoughtful and encouraging to culinarians pursuing their dreams. Mentoring is not only an act of kindness, it’s an age-old philosophy of gifting knowledge and retaining traditional values.
Have you received some good culinary advice you’d like to share? Leave a comment!