I know of no chef who does not want to be successful. No right minded person goes into the kitchen to deliberately put out bad food and intentionally sink the ship. We all want the house full, every night. We want to hear rave reviews about our craft and creations. We want to see more money coming in than going out. But is this the only way to define success?
This topic of success is fresh on my mind this Monday morning, coming off our biggest weekend in our short 3 ½ year history. We made more in sales last Friday than in any given week in our first 6 months after opening. The small, seminal dream we had years ago is now a full-fledged reality.
And this is what we hoped for, but it’s a different view on this side of the river that when we first started out. When we pushed to birth the dream, we most certainly had success in mind. We had an idea of what we want it to look like, but it was still a concept. It was not yet reality. And as I look back this morning, with experience under the belt, being able to say “we did it.” I hold both views in each hand, making sure they match up.
The ability to define your success is an important part of the business plan. If you don’t, your success might define you.
I am fascinated by the personalities in my industry that our culture has dubbed “successful.” You can be considered a success and still have accomplished nothing. You don’t need to be a great cook. You don’t’ need to have a string of restaurants, or possess several Michelin stars. In many ways, you just need to be in the right place at the right time, get recognized and ride the wave.
Just how long this wave will last? When will we tire of celebrities showing how to take shortcuts in the kitchen and call it good? And how many cupcake shows can we consume before the schtick wears as thin as the bottom of an overscrubbed stock pot? Will our culture tire of elevating chefs on a pedestal and move on to another industry’s icon?
This is why I don’t think fame, recognition or celebrity should be a prominent factor in defining your success. I have control over my cooking; I don’t have control over what you think of me. I have control over how I treat my employees, and the kind of work environment I create; I don’t have control over public image.
At the end of the day, I want to be able to sit alone with my thoughts and enjoy my success. I can do that if my success is built on a foundation that is not dependent upon whichever way the wind blows.