In response to the overwhelming amount of inquiries we receive from aspiring chefs seeking advice from Mario, we’re giving you that… and then some!! Here’s a little insight into the masterminds that make up Mario’s team of chefs. We’re inspired… and hope you are too!
What are some learning experiences as a chef you’ve had over the years?
Mario Batali: There is always a new flame to be sparked. It’s imperative to practice and explore new ideas. I learned very early on in my career to be the first one in and the last one out.
Andy Nusser: Stay cool, never scream or yell. Food runners will be coming any second now. New creations happen only when old ones have been defined in detail and delegated. Be ready at 8:00 because its going to be busy.
Frank Langello: It’s not always about your cooking, it’s also about being a leader, a mentor and a teacher.
Mary Giuliani: Doing what you love will make no two days feel the same. No question is a wrong question. It’s in the moment you are handling giant curve balls that you find your greatest growth.
Dan Drohan: Simpler is usually better, pay attention and don’t get an ego. Don’t rush to be the chef or sous chef… enjoy being a cook as long as you can. Don’t take money over experience because the experience is more valuable in the long run.
Matt Abdoo: I think that the longer you cook the more you appreciate taking the time to truly study and learn about the cuisine that you are focusing on, and not to rush your advancement for title sake. Have a great attitude, an appreciation for learning, and an open mind and great things and opportunities will come your way!
Cruz Goler: Keeping your emotions in check will work in your favor.
Jason Neve: Build relationships with people that “make” food: farmers, ranchers, etc. It will make you a better cook and in the end we are all just cooks. Without the other people we don’t have jobs.
Josh Laurano: I think this comes from repetition. You may know how to filet a fish, but you don’t really know until you have done it a few hundred times.
Mark Ladner: Consistency is very difficult to achieve.
How have you overcome failures in your career?
MB: There’s always room to learn and improve. Once I realize something doesn’t work or wasn’t as successful as I thought it might be, I go at it with a different approach. If that attempt doesn’t work out, I may go at it again with a much different approach.
AN: Failures will always happen. It can be a lousy dessert that never should have been made or a dismal financial month from too much snow. We learn from them and move on knowing that we can do better.
Mario LaPosta: By never settling and always expecting more out of myself. I always ask myself, how can I get better, how can we improve as a restaurant? It is important to be objective when evaluating yourself.
FL: You learn a lot by failures and working harder so you don’t make the same mistake twice. Always keep pushing forward and keep your head up. Failures will make you stronger!!
Matt Molina: To know that failing is part of the overall learning process gets me over the hump every time.
DD: By keeping focused, having a good support system and knowing that nothing is the end of the world.
Rob Swirz: Failure at some point is inevitable. Everybody makes mistakes. Sometimes the worst thing to do is get mad. As a chef, rather than dwelling on the failure you need to pick the best course of action to remedy the problem and move on.
JL: Keep on keeping on…
ML: A beginner’s mind coupled with perseverance and tenacity.
Fitz Tallon: Every aspiring cook will be yelled at or disciplined in a manner that will make them feel terrible. It is an adrenaline filled, high-stress atmosphere but at the end of the day, it is just food. It is how you respond to failure and move past it that matters.
What keeps you going after a rough night in the resto?
MB: Making breakfast for my boys the next day and accepting that if it doesn’t feel organic… it probably isn’t quite right.
MG: All I need to see is one happy client and I am reminded that no matter how challenging the day was, I am doing what I love! It’s a great gig when you can make people happy by serving them something that you created…that’s just good stuff.
CG: A nice bike ride home, a bowl of late night ramen, a book about fly fishing or all of the above help to decompress.
AN: I am influenced by music and movies. Finding Nemo’s “Keep swimming, keep swimming” is my mantra.
JN: Bad night = beer with my sous chef to reflect and find errors, then lots of coffee in the AM. And passion, because it probably wasn’t the first bad night and probably won’t be the last. Welcome to the kitchen.
DD: Knowing tomorrow is another day and problems are meant to be solved.
JL: That I have a beautiful wife and son who I love dearly. That at the end of the day, no matter how rough or stressful, I am passionate about what I do and can’t wait to do it all over again.
Rebecca DeAngelis: What keeps me going after a tough night is a creamy bowl of macaroni and cheese. Or telling myself that nothing is perfect and sh*t happens. Get a good night’s rest and remember tomorrow is a new day.
ML: A short attention span.
- Mario Batali
- Andy Nusser, Chef/Partner at Tarry Lodge and Casa Mono
- Cruz Goler, Executive Chef at Lupa
- Dan Drohan, Executive Chef at Otto
- Fitz Tallon, Executive Chef at Eataly NYC
- Frank Langello, Executive Chef at Babbo
- Jason Neve, Culinary Director of B&BHG’s Las Vegas Restaurants
- Josh Laurano, Executive Chef at Tarry Market
- Mario LaPosta, Chef at Tarry Lodge
- Mark Ladner, Executive Chef at Del Posto
- Mary Giuliani, Mario by Mary
- Matt Abdoo, Chef de Cuisine at Del Posto
- Matt Molina, Executive Chef at Mozza & Chi Spacca
- Rebecca DeAngelis, Pastry Chef at Babbo
- Rob Swirz, Sous Chef at Babbo