It’s important wherever you are in the span your career, that you set future goals to set your direction. You don't want to just be lead around. Knowing there is something you desire at the end of the rainbow, and using that as your driving force while keeping open mind, will push you further along your path in ways you may not have imagined.
After moving to the Napa Valley in the mid-late 90s, I immersed myself working in the industry, and in my free time I was cooking and messing around in people’s cellars. I was surrounded by flavors, and I was exhausted from working around the clock, but I couldn’t be happier. During those moments I realized, this was the industry for me.
While working at the original Restaurant Michael Mina at The St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco, Chef Chris L'Hommedieu taught me a valuable lesson: "Everything can always be improved upon. Always. Love what you do and challenge yourself to do so."
It’s an industry of hospitality, and a big part of that is mutual respect. If you have a team that enjoys what they are doing and have the ability to execute their work with your company's vision in mind, give those persons the freedom to own their contribution of the process. Respect them by offering the opportunity to accomplish their goals with their personal touch and input. It's an organic process if you are always striving to move in a positive direction.
Try to retain as many bits and pieces of information that have rubbed off on you along the way. There are valuable lessons buried in the memories of even your least favorite work experiences.
Working hard is key. But my personal time, and time with my family is what keeps me going. It’s really important to turn off, and re-charge yourself.
Inspiration finds us! Keep an open mind and it kind of just falls in your lap. There’s plenty around you to always be inspired. We only stand in the way of ourselves.
There is an immediate gratification in watching your guests' mood undergo a positive transformation because of what they had just ingested.
"The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks" by David A. Embury is my go-to, classic cocktail book. Anything written by Mark Kurlansky is great; "Setting the Table" by Danny Meyer for service and hospitality; "Zingerman's Guides" for business management. I will always love Calvin Trillin's tales of eating-exploits. Old cookbooks and cocktails books always get my attention- the older and more obscure, the better. Lapham's Quarterly, Imbibe, and Lucky Peach magazines keep me informed and entertained. For blogs, etc. I recommend articles by Jeffrey Morgenthaler, and Camper English's Alcademics.com. I grew up watching Julia Child and the Frugal Gourmet, but now I enjoy "Mind of a Chef" on PBS. Documentary radio broadcasts are big for me: "This American Life," "Radio Lab," and "Snap Judgement," really get my imagination worked up.