Hillary Sterling

Hillary Sterling

Chef Owner of Cayenne and Executive Chef at Ci Siamo

Cooking isn't just about taste, it's about learning to be one with the product that you're using. A good chef takes the time to listen and observe everything that's happening around them.

One of my first kitchen jobs was at a local Irish pub. I walked in one morning to find the owner, Nancy, flipping burgers on the line after someone called in sick. It really drove home how critical it is to be able - and willing - to work every position in the restaurant. You can't just be an owner or an executive chef, you have to also be ready to jump in wherever you're needed.
It's critical to set goals and find communities outside of the kitchen. I've personally found that through CrossFit and by competing in races and triathlons, including Chefs Cycle for No Kid Hungry - all great outlets for gaining perspective.
When hiring, I'm looking for someone who has a team-oriented mindset. I'm always interested in learning what people did during the pandemic - did they take up a new hobby? Spend more time with their family? Learn something new? I think seeing that side of a candidate can tell you a lot about what they might bring to the team.
I love discovering old cookbooks and finding new dishes or preparations that have somehow gotten left behind. Marcella Hazan and Joshua McFadden's books really helped me appreciate the power of simplicity in Italian cooking for their celebration of vegetables.

Disclaimer: Individuals featured in the Inspirational Career Timelines section have been nominated by peers, colleagues and/or other members of the hospitality industry. It is to the best of our knowledge that each individual has demonstrated leadership and acted as a positive role model for others.

Send Us Your Nominations

If you know of any extraordinary food, beverage and hospitality professionals who inspire others through their hard work and leadership, nominate them now!


Search industry jobs here

Get Inspired by Industry Leaders

Explore their unique career timelines and advice about what they’ve learned along the way

Pastry & Baking
Wine & Beverage
Office & Admin
Career Changer
International Experience
James Beard Award