Can You Be A Successful Chef And Restaurateur?

Executive chefs everywhere can identify with the struggle – managing a world-renowned kitchen while simultaneously managing your culinary empire. Is it possible? Celebrity chefs, and self-promotional mavens, such as Emeril Lagasse and Gordon Ramsay seem to have it in the bag. Consistently revered as kitchen masters while singlehandedly sweeping the nation (and sometimes the world) with restaurant openings and celebrity hobnobbing.

Laurent Vernhes, co-founder of boutique website Tablet Hotels, chimed in as last week’s guest blogger for the NY Times The Moment blog. His posting, titled Chef Inc. takes a look at just how some chefs are making the money, and the grade. He asks:

How do they do it? If they’re culinary artists — and I’m certain that they are — then how do they delegate their authority? Are they Warhols, with each restaurant a Factory, turning out original artworks by the hundreds? Or are they more like classical composers, employing chefs who work like conductors at the head of an orchestra of kitchen staff?

Culinary entrepreneur and French chef extraordinaire Jean-Georges Vongerichten of Mercer Kitchen and Jean Georges just to name a few, had this to say about he manages to master it all:

“It’s all about the people around you, whom I treat like family… Chef and restaurateur are two different jobs. I love to pick my vegetables — cooking is my love, my therapy — but I am also an entrepreneur. I have dreams as well; I want to do things. It is a spread that is controlled. I never travel more than one week per month, and there are always things to adjust when I come back. The rest of the month in New York, I am at Jean-Georges every day, cooking for six hours per day.”

Read more on how Vongerichten makes it all happen here.

Chef and restaurateur – can you really juggle both responsibilities? For those of you managing to make it work – how do you do it?


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