The Industry

‘Bring Soul to the Recipe:’ wisdom from Anthony Bourdain and other top chefs

When looking for wisdom about what makes a great meal, you turn to the greats. Here’s what Anthony Bourdain, Thomas Keller, and other famous chefs had to say.

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."

Thomas Keller

"To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living."

Anthony Bourdain

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.”

Wolfgang Puck

"Don't lie about it. You made a mistake. Admit it and move on. Just don't do it again. Ever."

Anthony Bourdain

We're hoping to succeed; we're okay with failure. We just don't want to land in between.

David Chang

A great restaurant doesn't distinguish itself by how few mistakes it makes but by how well they handle those mistakes.”

Danny Meyer

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."

Joe Bastianich

"'Chef' doesn't mean that you're the best cook, it simply means 'boss.'"

Tom Colicchio

“To me, there's no great chef without a great team.”

Daniel Boulud

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."

Anthony Bourdain

“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."

Anne Burrell

“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.”

Jose Andrés

“When you're running a restaurant, you have to change with the times; otherwise, the times will change you.”

Gordon Ramsay

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."

Julia Child

"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."

Masaharu Morimoto

“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.”

Thomas Keller

“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.”

Mario Batali

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."

Anthony Bourdain

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."

Julia Child

"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."

Guy Fieri

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."

Anthony Bourdain

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.

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