In most cases, success doesn't happen overnight. Instead there are years of hard work, dedication and passion happening behind the scenes. We asked hospitality leaders to reflect on past positions they've held that were most impactful to their careers (so far).


"My internship at Osteria Francescana by Chef Massimo Bottura and working at Ichi Ban Japanese Restaurant are two experiences that have greatly influenced my career."

- Diego Oka, Executive Chef at La Mar by Gastón Acurio

"I think the most important time in my career was working at Eleven Madison Park. It taught me accountability, organization, attention to detail and how working hard can take you to the next level."

- Leah Cohen, Chef / Owner of Pig & Khao and Piggyback NYC

"I started this career so very young. If we take it all the way back, I was slinging Blizzards at Dairy Queen at 15 years old. I'd like to think this is where I got my first taste of bartending! However, I started in my first full-service restaurant just a year later and never looked back. I was addicted to it. The excitement, the chaos, the challenge, the connection. It all fed me in a way that I don't feel I could get anywhere else. I have always said that the best hospitality people are those who are nourished by nourishing others, and that nourishment takes many forms other than food."

- Kayla Morrison, Director of Operations at Ballyhoo Hospitality

I think every job I have worked has been crucial to my growth, but I think working at One Market under Chef Mark Dommen was the most impactful. It was a restaurant that sparked my curiosity for a higher level of dining. I used every day, almost like practicing for a two or three star restaurant. Chef Mark also pushed me to go to New York and work at the toughest restaurant I could find to challenge myself. Without that, I would not be where I am today.

- Richard Lee, Executive Chef at Saison

"I will be forever grateful for the two jobs I had early in my career at Sons & Daughters and Frasca Food & Wine. Sons & Daughters was the opportunity of a lifetime and put me in the situation to sink or swim, which taught me so many valuable lessons. Moving to Boulder, Colorado, to work at Frasca Food and Wine was the most significant decision of my life and has allowed me to learn from incredible mentors every day and thrive in a growing company."

- Carlin Karr, Wine Director of Frasca Hospitality Group

"Each job I have had has impacted my life in a very specific way; from washing dishes as a high school student and becoming addicted to restaurant life and the push of service, to working in a Michelin starred kitchen for the first time at Cyrus and learning how quality, integrity and finesse are everyday practices in a kitchen at that level. The first time I stepped into Daniel Boulud’s kitchen I was able to understand the importance of tradition and dedication and what that really means to every cook he employs. Each step in my career has made me into the chef I am today."

- Aaron Bludorn, Executive Chef & Owner at Bludorn & Navy Blue

"Working for various chefs and service instructors while I was at the Culinary Institute of America really impacted my career. There were many on and off site events that would hire students as cooks or servers. I was even able to secure a few events myself, while in school, in which I gained a wealth of experience while being coached and mentored through them. Having that experience with the support of some of the best in the industry was invaluable. Many skills I learned from them and on those jobs I still use today."

- Danielle Alex, Private Chef, TV/Digital Content & Recipe Developer at Diversity Kitchen