Running a restaurant isn’t anywhere near as glamorous as TV makes it look.
It’s dirty. It’s sweaty. The hours are gruelingly long and hard. The money isn’t usually that great.
No one goes to work in a kitchen because they want to be rich or famous. They do it out of passion. The love of food—and creating it to share with others—is what keeps so many people coming back to one of the hardest, most unforgiving jobs on Earth.
Sometimes, though, a chef does become famous. There are some chefs who have become household names: Anthony Bourdain, Thomas Keller, Julia Child. One thing that celebrity chefs all have in common: They didn’t set out for fame, but became famous for being so passionate about food.
Those famous chefs are now our inspiration. When running a restaurant gets tough (as it absolutely, inevitably will), turn to these famous cooks to remind you that even though the journey will be hard, it’s worth it.
Cooking is a Labor of Love
One thing we could all be reminded of from time to time is that good cooking takes more than technique and the best ingredients. Without love for what you’re doing, not only will you not hack it in the kitchen—it’ll show in the quality of your food, too.
"Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all."
Harriet Van Horne
"A recipe has no soul. You, as the cook, must bring soul to the recipe."
"To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living."
You Will Make Mistakes
It’s amazing to see how many of the world’s most famous and renowned chefs talk about the mistakes they’ve made along the way. It might be one of the only things every chef—famous or not—has in common: They got where they are by taking a bumpy road, paved with the lessons they learned along the way.
“When you have made as many mistakes as I have then you can be as good as me.”
"Don't lie about it. You made a mistake. Admit it and move on. Just don't do it again. Ever."
We're hoping to succeed; we're okay with failure. We just don't want to land in between.
A great restaurant doesn't distinguish itself by how few mistakes it makes but by how well they handle those mistakes.”
Success in Cooking is All About the People Around You
No man is an island, and nowhere is that truer than in a restaurant kitchen. In professional settings, cooking is all about teamwork, something famous chefs know well.
"Working in a restaurant means being part of a family, albeit usually a slightly dysfunctional one. Nothing is accomplished independently."
"'Chef' doesn't mean that you're the best cook, it simply means 'boss.'"
“To me, there's no great chef without a great team.”
To Keep Learning is Absolutely Essential
Something we know about the kitchen is that it’s a place where your education never ends. There’s always something new to learn—and innovative chefs creating new dishes and techniques all the time, all over the world.
"Cooking is a craft, I like to think, and a good cook is a craftsman -- not an artist. There's nothing wrong with that: The great cathedrals of Europe were built by craftsmen—though not designed by them. Practicing your craft in expert fashion is noble, honorable, and satisfying."
“I believe that there is always something new to learn, in fact, that is one of the three reasons that I chose to become a chef, that my education is never over."
“I've been a cook all my life, but I am still learning to be a good chef. I'm always learning new techniques and improving beyond my own knowledge because there is always something new to learn and new horizons to discover.”
“When you're running a restaurant, you have to change with the times; otherwise, the times will change you.”
Success in the Food World is More Subjective than You Think
Striving for success in the food world can be a funny thing—because what does “success” really mean in a restaurant, anyway? According to wisdom from famous chefs, it can look like a lot of different things.
“I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate."
"No rules. Don't be afraid to do whatever you want. Cooking doesn't have to have rules. I don't like it that way."
“When you acknowledge, as you must, that there is no such thing as perfect food, only the idea of it, then the real purpose of striving toward perfection becomes clear: to make people happy, that is what cooking is all about.”
“Although the skills aren't hard to learn, finding the happiness and finding the satisfaction and finding fulfillment in continuously serving somebody else something good to eat, is what makes a really good restaurant.”
Of course, no matter what your definition of success may be, excellence is always something to strive for.
"Cream rises. Excellence does have its rewards."
The Most Important Lesson: Food Brings Us Together
The one thing that all chefs, no matter where they come from, agree on? Food is something that brings people together. It’s more than just for eating—it’s for starting conversations and building relationships.
"People who love to eat are always the best people."
"Cooking is all about people. Food is maybe the only universal thing that really has the power to bring everyone together. No matter what culture, everywhere around the world, people eat together."
One of our favorites, the great Anthony Bourdain, said it simply but maybe the best:
"You learn a lot about someone when you share a meal together."
Why do we make restaurant technology?
Popmenu knows restaurants because we love restaurants—they are the places where we spend a night off or a night out; where we toast to celebrations; where we reconnect and lose ourselves in mouthwatering meals and across-the-table conversations. We believe in the importance of our local favorites—and as the need for technology continues to rise, we’ve made it our mission to partner with restaurants and help them navigate the unknown.
We started with our now-patented, dynamic menu experience that unleashes the power of a restaurant’s greatest marketing tool: the menu. Since then, Popmenu has continued to partner at eye-level with restaurants to create easy-to-use restaurant technology solutions that attract and engage guests, drive more transactions, and build long-term guest loyalty. All that to say—we’re here to help.
Let’s tackle the next industry challenge together.