I’m coming back from a week in New York (my old stomping ground) with some exciting news. I won the International Association of Culinary Professionals award for Entrepreneur/Business Person of the Year!
One of the things that excites me most about winning this award is that it’s not just about business, it’s about being a voice of integrity and encouragement to others within industry, which are goals I’ve aspired to my whole career.
Authenticity is my utmost core value, and I thought about it a lot over the course of the conference. I am so grateful to be surrounded by colleagues who bring an authentic voice and vision to their work. People like Cheryl Sternman Rule, who unabashedly writes for the pleasure of writing and enriches all of our lives as a result. People like Maria Speck, who brought her passion to life in a way that inspires me to stick unswervingly to my own call.
Big kudos to all y’all, because following your dream doesn’t just happen. It takes guts and close-your-eyes-and-make-the-leap kind of faith. Grant Achatz, the famed chef from Alinea in Chicago, reminded me of that at what I thought was one of the best sessions of the conference.
Grant is celebrated for pushing the envelope, but when he talked about bringing cellists into the dining room for a certain course to bring the element of music to bear on a certain dish, I had to wonder, “does he ever worry people are going to laugh at him, or critics are going to slam him, or his customers are going to think he’s crazy?” So I asked him.
He basically said he has that “you’re going to fail” voice beside him every day in the form of one of the restaurant’s leaders. His general manager—who is now his director of operations—always tells Grant his wild ideas can’t be done or are a bad idea. Grant said it’s become a sort of joke; that the ideas his colleague deems terrible are the ones that will inevitably succeed.
The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. In having the devil’s advocate at his side, it forces Grant to constantly define and defend his own beliefs in an external conversation instead of internal. The gem in that tale is that not only does Grant tolerate this person; he reveres him. To me, that in and of itself is courageous.
Those are the things I’ve been thinking about … and now I want to ask you what you’re thinking. If you’re new to NOURISH Evolution, what’s standing out and making you go “a ha!” and what’s leaving you feeling flat? If you’ve been a long-time follower, what are some ways that NOURISH Evolution has impacted your life? Is there anything you’re disappointed with? I’d really like to know. In going forward, I want to continue stepping out in my own authentic voice, while at the same time giving you tools and information that are going to help empower you not just in your kitchen, but in your lives.
Thank you, all my colleagues at IACP—and all you here on NOURISH Evolution–for the way you encourage, inspire and challenge me. And thank you for this validation that following your passion and being true to what you believe in is something worth celebrating.