How to become successful?

Joined Feb 10, 2010
I graduated from the Orlando Culinary Academy. I was a great student. I thought that being one of the best student will benefit me in the future, and that I would be very successfull right after graduation. Now, I work as a cook, and not as a chef. I still think that I can be successful. However, I don't know how. I tried to be part of different chef's association, but none of them work. I tried to cook for friends and people that I don't even know for free. Does anyone know how to become successful?
Joined Sep 18, 2008
If you are "working", you are successful!

If you mean you aspire to be a "chef", keep working, keep learning, keep advancing in skill and knowledge, study personnel management, bookkeeping, finance, business law, and in 1020 years you'll get their ;)
Joined Feb 13, 2010
have to agree, just because you have a culinary degree does not make you qualified to be the exec chef. I spent over 10 years busting my butt, learning, and working hard before I got my first exec gig. The trick is to work hard, take the right jobs, look for opportunities to further your education, and network. Build some time in the kitchen, learn what it takes to actually run a kitchen. Maintain the attitude you had in school, to be the best! If you still haven't gotten an exec position in 10-15 years, then ask what went wrong.

On a side note, this is why I generally hate to hire people straight out of culinary school. The culinary degree may get you an interview, but the "world owes me" mentality will get you a swift trip to the front door.
Joined Dec 4, 2008
I agree about if your working your successful. For my head chef, and from others ive talked to, culinary school does not equal real world experience. It's good to have, but until you get some experience under your belt you wont move up right away at least.
Joined Jan 23, 2010
now that you have proper culinary tuition and grade to go with it, work at gaining as much work experience as you can for the next 10 years and study cooking theory in your spare time too.

nothing beats good practice plus a good theoretical knowledge about cooking too :)
Joined Jun 29, 2004
When you are irreplaceable and making your owners a ton of money, then you'll be successful. Coming out of school you're just another cook, and thus not worth as much to them.

Cooking skills are a small part of being successful in this business... At the upper level, you need to know how to sell yourself and your product (this means conceptualizing your business profile and menu, advertising, etc...), how to make money (ie. maximizing revenue and keeping costs down), how to deal with people (employees, owners, media, customers, etc...), as well as cooking.

Some creativity (not just on the plate) is required too - for instance, alot of fast food or street food concepts (ie. a hotdog or taco stand) can make a ton of money...

Myself, I started out as a cook in fine dining restaurants, switched to pastry (it allowed me to work the hours I wanted to), and now I'm in more of a corporate chef type roll (doing desserts and breads for multiple restaurants).
Joined Sep 26, 2009
Come and work with me for a year (for free of course):smokinJust kidding!LOL
Like the others say, work hard and learn, learn, learn...there is no magic formula that I know of:chef:


Joined Oct 12, 2009
:talk: Find an older Chef that cooks by taste and not recipes. I had a Chef tell me once "Good Cooks Never Go Hungry" I have been doing it for over 50 years and I have never been fired or laid off or asked for a raise in pay or an unemployment check.
It use to be you had to apprentice under a Head Chef for 7 years. then you had to "trail" in the best houses (work behind another cook) before they would hire you, to get a good position. Now because of insurance and labor laws you can't do that any more. Education is great if you use it as a tool but, nothing beats experience. When I was young because I had a family I would work a "day job" and "trail" at nights or work a "night job" and "trail" days but you can't do that anymore, It's a shame because you can't get experience out of a book. And at the wages they have to pay today you have to have experience to get a job. On job training is just about a thing of the past. I didn't find anything in the chefs associations either, except politics.
How to become successful? A lot of it is being in the right place at the right time.
Be patient, sometimes it's not the Destination but, the Journey that's the most fun.:)
Joined Oct 10, 2005
Time....more time....and a little more time.....after a good many years, you'll find it's not about money at's the instant gratification you get from pleasing others with what you prepare or create. Set your goals five years out and follow them. Who gave you the idea that you would fall out of school into a well paid job as a head chef? Just curious.
Joined Sep 2, 2009
the sad thing is the culinary schools paint such a rosey picture of industry in genral......This is alot of hard work. This is an industry that takes time to get established in. So to think you can come out of school and be sucsessful right off the bat , probably is'nt going to happen unless your really lucky or have someone with a huge bank roll to buy you your own place.....I feel sorry for alot of students that go to school, plunk down 40 or 60k and have to take a line or pantry job for 10 bucks an hour......sorry did'nt mean to be a downer but thats just how it is....Hang in there and if you have real passion, a great work ethic and a little luck you'll be ok...
Joined Dec 4, 2009
-- Be very specific about your goal. What EXACTLY do you want to achieve (and trust me, it ain’t money that defines success)? Write it down. And keep asking yourself what success means to you.

-- Develop a strategy, a course of action. Be clear about your vision and purpose. If you have a well-defined action focus, you will attract the right things. If you do not, you will only find more confusion in your life. Set SMART goals: specific-measurable-achievable-realistic-Time senstive.

-- Take consistent, persistent action. Be focused. Life is full of distractions; make decisions when you are confronted with them: will THIS lead me to the success I want? Find the willpower. Learn to defer, delegate and delete. If a certain activity can be put away for a later time, defer it. If that activity can be done by somebody else, delegate it. And if it does not really need to be done at all, it can be deleted. This kind of close examination of each activity will help in keeping you focused on the things that are really important.

-- Plan on failures and setbacks and turn them into feedback and challenges. Don’t fall down and if you do fall down, get your *** back up again.

-- Believe in yourself. How are you different? How are you better? Lack of self-belief is one of the biggest hurdles that many people need to surmount in order to become successful. Most people have a lot of baggage due to their upbringing. This baggage generally consists of self-limiting beliefs, which can actually prevent them from finding the success they seek. People are often bogged down with notions like they are not good enough, or not smart enough, and even not worthy enough. Success can only be achieved by shedding these self-limiting beliefs and replacing them with positive self-beliefs. It is an established fact that if you think you can do something, you will, and conversely, if you think that it cannot be done, it will lead to failure.

-- Cop an attitude. Being successful or unsuccessful isn’t about how much money or status you’ve achieved. It’s an internal quality. It’s your attitude.

-- Commit to your purpose. This often involves being willing to pay the price that everything has. This is an important factor because no one wants to put all their effort into doing something only to discover later that the price they paid was too high. The price may not be in monetary terms; it could be sacrifice, effort, time, and also money, or maybe something else. The point is that in order to become successful, you must be fully cognizant of the price involved and be ready to pay it.

-- Take action. Nothing can be achieved until action is taken to achieve it. After all the above steps of deciding on a course of action, having clarity of vision and purpose, setting goals, making plans, staying focused, being committed, and creating self-belief, you will need to go ahead and act on what you want to achieve. By putting your plan of action into play, you will get to what you set out to achieve: becoming successful.

Life is exactly what you make it. Nothing is handed to you on a silver platter.

Joined Jan 29, 2010
Maybe I'm the exception to the rule, I was an executive chef three months after I graduated from culinary school, of course I was 22 when I graduated and had already been cooking (paying my dues?) for 8 years by then. Now I've been an exec chef for 7 years.
How'd I get that first exec chef job? Well that's a rather interesting story (to me anyway). Basically I was hired as the sous chef of a city restuarant, three weeks after being hired the executive chef had a "family emergency" and had to go to Florida, I was thus left to run the kitchen, I took this opportunity like a bull by the horns. I created more creative specials that sold really well, ordered effectively and precisely having a great effect on food cost and was able to run the ship without any catastrophes. This and my ability to work long hours, for less money and with more care, enthusiasm and dilligence then the former executive chef got me the opportunity to run my own kitchen.
So you have to position yourself to be the go to guy and then when opportunity strikes make sure your abilities exist, don't let your ego fool you, being an executive chef is difficult, demanding and not glamorous at all, but if you love it it's worth it. I've always felt bad for people that are stuck as chefs.
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