What Drives a Chef?
This is a question that every chef needs to know the answer to. My favorite part about this question is that every chef has a different answer. This in a way helps many chefs stay current. It is very easy in this business to become common. By common I mean nothing changes, you run the same menu for years, you come in have a routine, and then go home. This is my biggest fear as a chef.
My fire inside the kitchen is a family thing. Being a third generation chef I was always looking for the approval of my parents with my father being a chef and my mother was a General Manager for restaurants. Once I started cooking full time that was my goal to hear my father tell me that I had done it, I had become a better chef. Now that my dad has passed away I still look to him for my driving ambition. When I am confused or stuck I simply ask myself what would my dad would do in this situation. Then I take that idea and make it better or put a twist on it.
I had my father and mother out for a private dinner once I had become an executive chef one night. I gave them the treatment a six course tasting dinner. At the end of the dinner I sat down and had a night cap with them. That’s when it happened. The words that I had been looking for (with tears in his eyes) Clint you are going to be a great chef, much better than me. Now that I have his approval as a chef I use that to never disappoint him. To this day and for the rest of my life I will always look to my father for advice and approval which will cause me to keep driving forward and never become common.
Now my drive is helping young chefs. I am a culinary arts teacher at a local career center for high school juniors and seniors. 95% of my kitchen staff are students from my culinary program that are interested in culinary arts or are continuing their education for a culinary degree. By being able to put out three star food with students is a huge success in my book. I know not know one restaurant within a hundred miles that can do this. Most of our diners have no idea that they are eating food from local high school and culinary college students. They think I have a highly trained kitchen staff.
My personal drive is to keep my family happy, be able to help others, and provide amazing food.