A strong team is crucial to creating a firm foundation for a successful restaurant and hiring the best is only the first step to building up your team. A big responsibility of as a leader is to continually provide motivation to your team to improve. While it can be one of the most challenging roles you’ll encounter, it is a critical aspect for retaining staff. These leading chefs share their best advice for motivating a team from day one to years down the road.


"I keep my team inspired and motivated by coaching them. I work by their side all day, and spend time teaching them new tricks and techniques."

Philippe Bertineau, Former Executive Chef of Benoit

"I keep my team inspired and motivated through humor, a constantly changing menu, talking to them about food and seasonal changes, and asking for their input and thoughts. We work together on our menu instead of me dictating every dish."

Charlie Parker, Executive Chef at Alfred’s Steakhouse

“ It’s my responsibility, no matter how busy as I am with both restaurants, to share my desire, motivation and passion with my cooks and sous chefs. I like to get them excited about the arrival of every season by sharing my vision and creating new dishes with them. I also spend time in both kitchens and love to be in the trenches cooking side by side with my teams. At heart, I’m just a cook and that's what I truly love about the industry.”

George Mendes, Chef and Partner of Aldea and Lupulo

“ I keep my team motivated and inspired with my energy. I try to bring a warm and positive energy into the kitchen every day. I also make a huge effort to have a personal relationship with each cook on my team, and to know their strengths, weaknesses, and goals, in order to push them to keep them working towards their goals. This also allows me to hold them accountable!”

Kelly Fields, Chef Owner of Willa Jean

“ In yesteryear, it was up to you to keep yourself motivated. Thankfully that has changed. I like to keep my staff motivated by “learning by doing”. With this approach, it teaches you about responsibility and that you need to take ownership and have pride in your work, from prep to the line.”

Matthew Ridgway, Executive Chef of The Southern Gentleman and Gypsy Kitchen

“ I keep my team inspired and motivated by sharing my excitement. I love wine. It’s a passion and something that’s contagious. When your manager is excited about the wine and the food and the wine producers, his or her enthusiasm ends up being contagious. “

Michaël Engelmann, Master Sommelier and Wine Director for The Modern

“ I keep my team inspired and motivated by making sure people learn by being involved. I can give someone a recipe and tell them what to do, but it's more important to ask them about and involve them in the process - it's about giving my team ownership of what they're doing.”

Timothy Hollingsworth, Chef and Owner of Otium and Barrel & Ashes