The Best Advice Our Chefs Were Given

A king’s time as ruler rises and falls like the sun. One day, Simba, the sun will set on my time here, and will rise with you as the new king.”

Sound advice you receive at the beginning of your career can inspire you for the rest of your life. Whether it is from a mentor, a parent or even a book, wise words passed down can have a profound impact. We asked our chefs for the best advice they ever received and how it inspired them.

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Daniel Calvert – BELON

When I worked with Shane Osbourne at Pied a Terre, he told me, “Concentrate on building your repertoire before you start building your profile.” To my cooks, I always say, “Practice makes practice.” The more you strive for perfection, the more you must practice and practice.

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Palash Mitra – New Punjab Club

I am mostly self-taught, so the best advice has always come from books. Firstly, love the work you do, and you will not have to work a single day in your life. Second, If you wake up one day and do not feel like going to work, either there is something you are not doing right, or it is time to move on.

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Angie Ford – Buenos Aires Polo Club

One of my mentors, René Rodriquez, taught me a lot. When trying to climb the ranks in a kitchen, you need to devote yourself to the line. Be the first in the kitchen and the last one to leave. Watch your chef’s every move and always have a notebook to write down your observations, tricks, reminders. Ask a million questions. Try to help in all areas of the kitchen and learn every position. And most importantly, stay humble.

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Tony Ferreira – Black Sheep Restaurants

My biggest mentors are Regan Porteous and Christopher Mark. They never gave out inspiring quotes – trying to stay out of the weeds was inspiring enough for them. But I remember, “You are only as good as the hours you put in”.

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Lisette Magampon – Osteria Marzia

There are a handful of chefs who made me who I am today. Philippe Bertineau inspired me to become a better chef by encouraging me to get to know my roots and teaching me that being ‘old school’ is okay because that’s the fundamentals of cooking. I worked with Chef Justin Smillie for four years. He told me, “Always strive for what you believe in and set a goal for yourself.”

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Billy Otis – Black Sheep Restaurants

At Topolobampo, my head chef and mentor Rick Bayless told me “go to a city with a progressive food scene, immerse yourself and learn all you can. If you want it, do not wait, go out there and take it.” But the most important thing I learned on the way to becoming a chef was from my parents. They instilled a strong work ethic in me. At an early age, I figured out that your drive and hunger is the ultimate factor. It was through my parents and my mentor’s advice that I am where I am today.

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Gizzy Alesbrook – Hotal Colombo

The first chef I ever worked for told me, “Never take no for an answer”. There is always a way around something. There is no such thing as impossible; there is always something you can do

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Jad Youssef – Maison Libanaise

The best advice my mother gave me was never to waste food. I saw the care and love my mother put in her cooking, and I carry that with me today. My childhood memories around food are what inspired me to become a chef. My mother is a home cook with the sensibility of a four-star chef, especially when it comes to ingredients. Food is something to be respected.

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For more sage advice and pro tips, check out our chefs’ secret pantry staples or a chef’s guide to Shanghai Street.

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