“Daniel Boulud is like a father to me. I worked for him from ages 19-26. He made it possible for me to travel around the world and cement my craft, gave me my first Pastry Chef position and truly believed in me. When I was 25 he told me, 'Johnny, you will be a great Chef one day. As a Chef, others will look to you for guidance, mentorship, motivation and inspiration. Be sure to always make time for these people, do your best to be humble and never forget where you came from and how hard you worked to get to where you are today. Do your best to help others along the way.'„
JAMES BEARD FOUNDATION AWARD
We strive for speed and consistency as chefs, but sometimes that quest to be the fastest and the best trips us up the most. I have learned the hard way, as the saying goes, “haste makes waste.”
I wish I had the foresight 10 years ago to be more diligent in staying organized with digitally clean and clear dates, photos, collaborations, etc. Tackling this job now is a daunting task.
My first Chef really instilled in me the importance of working clean. Respect for my uniform and station are a direct reflection of who I am as a chef and a professional.
Always remember why you work as hard as you do. You don’t do it for your employer, you do it for yourself! If you're working many hours and making sacrifices, it should be because you’re doing something you love, have passion for, take pride in and aim to excel in.
One of my biggest fears in life is being mediocre. Cooking was the only thing that I could depend solely on myself to be a little better and a little faster than I was the day before, seeing continuous progress. It gave me purpose and the discipline I needed.
I was fortunate to spend some time at Ladurée with Pierre Hermé in 1998. They welcomed me with open arms and allowed me to work through all the stations. The kitchen set-up and the pride they took in the perfection of each individual piece amazed me. I make a pretty nice tart shell thanks to those guys!
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.
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