Career Lessons from the World’s Best Chefs

Katy Montgomery

Katy currently serves as the Global Director of the Career Development Centre at INSEAD where she manages career services professionals across three campuses: Abu Dhabi, Fontainebleau, and Singapore. Katy previously served as the Associate Dean for Student Development at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School.

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I close my eyes and I want to understand where I am, cooking is about emotion, it’s about culture, it’s about love, it’s about memory.

Massimo Bottura

The greatest lesson came with the realization that good food cannot be reduced to single ingredients. It requires a web of relationships to support it.”

Dan Barber

I am famous in my little food world, one of the top 50 chefs, but I don’t want to look back in 10 years and think that I didn’t use my voice.”

Alex Atala

Netflix has created an original documentary series, Chef’s Table, profiling some of the world’s top chefs including Massimo Bottura, Dan Barber, and Alex Atala.  These chefs are James Beard award winners, featured on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants List, and have been awarded Michelin stars.

Can you imagine being the very best in your profession? What does it take to be the best? What makes the chefs profiled in the series the best is not their technical skills; it is something much, much more:

  • Passion. They are passionate about what they do. They love food, they love cooking, they love the history of farming and agriculture, they love creating the very best dining experience for their customers. They are stimulated by their careers and strive to do their very best every day.
  • Willing to Take Risks. They are bored by the conventional and willing to buck tradition. Moreover, they put their comfort (regular working hours, consistent pay check, long personal vacations) aside to make their dreams a reality.
  • Sense of Responsibility. The chefs feel obligated to something larger: larger than themselves and their families and even larger than their employees and customers. Most of the chefs felt a responsibility to sustainable agriculture, ethical business practices, the environment, and honoring the culture and food of their home countries.
  • Intellectually Curious. Every chef has a deep and persistent desire to know: know more about how food is grown, know more about the history of food in a particular culture, know more about why something tastes the way it tastes.
  • Highly Self Aware. These chefs know their strengths, weaknesses, what keeps them engaged, and why they respond in a particular way in a particular moment. They are receptive to the people and reactions that constantly surround them.

What can make you the very best in your profession? Have you thought about what is beyond what you are learning in the classroom?

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