Like most good things in life, reaching your Aspiration requires hard work, dedication and sacrifice. Becoming a world class chef is an extreme example of this. Everyone knows that chefs live unique lives, we miss weekends, special events, when everyone is off, we are working. When everyone’s working, we are off.
It’s a sacrifice of our social lives and in most cases, a sacrifice of friendships, relationships and everything that comes with that. On top of all of this we get paid very low wages for most of our careers and as a result live month to month scraping by.
Personally I started very late, at 23, I left for Switzerland to study Culinary Arts. 18 months later, I started my first job at the Ritz Hotel in London. Wow, what an absolute shock to the system, I was a confident South African male, who excelled at most things in life and now I was just a Commis Chef, being spoken to like a dog by 19-20 year olds, while being paid £14k per year. Not enough to survive in London.
I can’t count how many times I considered quitting and leaving the industry, during my almost 3 year stay at the Ritz. Yet, I stayed because I needed to understand each and every element of “the Kitchen” . True excellence is built on a solid foundation of hard work. Hard work has continued throughout my career and still does today. I never make a role move unless it is thought out and for the greater good of my career.
My wife is pregnant and our little family is now growing. This is all part of the plan. It also means that I have limited time to work the hours required and still spend the time I want to with my family. I knew this from the beginning and I have planned accordingly. So I make the sacrifices now, so I can spend the time with my family later and still have the career I want.
I have just recently had the choice of heading up two Restaurants, one on the 32nd floor of a building in the city that has been around for a few years. I’d work 7 shifts a week, with a strong team already in place, decent money, a bonus, health and gym cover.
The alternative, a new restaurant with incredible potential, a slightly higher profile, but will require 10-11 shifts per week in the beginning, to build a team, fix a menu and manage all the teething issues that comes with starting something new. Now every normal person would go for the established restaurant it’s safe, but chefs are not normal and I’m ambitious. I want to succeed and I am willing to make the sacrifices to ensure that I reap the rewards later. So I went for something new, something aspirational, something inspirational.
the lives we dream of. It all boils down to what we are willing to sacrifice to get there and where our priorities lie. I personally don’t want to wake up when I am 80 and think that I never gave life my best effort and didn’t chase my dreams. So my parting advice is, write your goals down, believe in yourself, get off your ass and……chase your dreams. Life is too short to dream small.