Chefs Manage things & lead people.

One of my favorite quotes! But clearly misunderstood in our industry. The typical scenario is pretty much the opposite, wasting resources and micromanaging people. Read on below to see how some of our industry leaders have changed there ways, and embraced a new philosophy.

Chef Eric Ripert

Our featured image above is one of the Chefs I admire the most in the culinary industry. With the longest to date 3 star Michelin designation in North America, he co owns and operates Le Bernadin in Manhattan NY. Follow this LINK to view a short video about his transition from tyrant to leader.

In my own experience as an apprentice at the ripe old age of 16, I was introduced to tyranny, much like Eric was at Jamin with Joel Robuchon. If you pick up his book, you can read all the nasty bits! I really didn’t understand why my chef was so angry all the time….it’s just the way it is, I thought. Over the years with much solace and study, I realized it didn’t have to be this way….

The restaurant industry confronts many of the leadership challenges that other industries, corporate leaders and entrepreneurs face. Chefs and chef-owners play a significant leadership role in their organisations through a variety of operational and social processes. Among these leaders, only an elite group of chefs achieve the recognition to be best-in-class, by operating with excellence, innovation and delivering exceptional customer experiences.

The leadership styles of top chefs can be broadly categorised using the following three archetypes. Which best describes the kind of leader you are, or want to become?

Passionate Nonconformist

They integrate enthusiasm and optimism with a clear vision and purpose, unleashing intrinsic motivation to generate constructive action towards achieving personal and organisational goals. An optimist believes in a positive outcome, while a Passionate Nonconformist has a burning desire to drive positive results. They rely on the emotion-based leadership constructs of Enthusiasm and Optimism, Innovation and Creativity, and Flexibility. Nonconformist leaders are constantly looking to do better. They have a clear purpose and continue to take their dreams to higher levels.

Determined Eagle Eye

They can maintain a broad view of their operations, but at the same time, rely on their self-determination and ability to look at the details, preventing, anticipating or acting quickly with resilience and in response to day-to-day challenges. Their obsession with perfection drives them to fulfil their vision. They leverage the leadership constructs of Vision, Consistency with Ethics, Principles and Values (Walk-the-Talk) and Stress Tolerance. They lead with the precision and vision power of an “eagle eye” to see things objectively, the way they are, rather than the way they wish or fear them to be.

Trusted Coach

They integrate the leadership constructs of Interpersonal Relationship, Meaningful Work and Individual Consideration, including generous personal attention and mentoring across all levels of skill development, behavior and style. They strive to create an open and sharing environment where individuals can express themselves freely, collaborate and learn from each other. They instill respect and trust onto their teams as key elements to eliciting hope, attachment and fun.


To wrap this up, lets keep it simple. You have three choices, lead, follow or get out of the way! As a chef you have as the title to this blog suggests two jobs. Manage your resources (food & beverage) to earn your employer a profit. Secondly, in order to do this you have to create an environment that is positive, creative and reasonable. Leaders are not born, they are created via education and knowledge. Take interest in you team, find out there goals and aspirations, and help them to achieve them. Following these principles will create life long, positive relationships. Cheers, and happy cooking!