To Succeed In Business Be A Chef, Not A Cook

I have a lot of irons in the fire. All of the successful entrepreneurs I know, do too. If you have the mind of an entrepreneur, you are constantly seeing new opportunities. You come up with business ideas like authors come up with story ideas. Good business is art.  To create great art, you need to experiment.

There is a difference between having a lot of projects going at once, and chasing your tail with distractions and not accomplishing anything. That’s where the art is.

Business is a lot like cooking.  There is a big difference between following a recipe and creating one. Anyone can be trained to read a list of ingredients and follow directions telling you how and in what order to prepare them. That’s what a cook does. A chef knows what ingredients go well together. She knows how different cooking methods will make something taste completely different. She knows how the look of a dish will impact the taste. She creates art. See the difference?

I saw a story on 60 Minutes about Chef Jose Andres.   He pioneered a cooking technique called molecular gastronomy.  He looks at food at the molecular level and uses things like liquid nitrogen to prepare it.  Here is a man that took one of the oldest professions on earth and approached it in a way no-one had thought of before.  He’s an immigrant that came to America with $50 and a set of knives, and his creative way of looking at the science of food has brought him to the top of his profession.  He has successful restaurants, money, he even teaches a course in culinary physics at Harvard.  Chef Andres is an entrepreneur.

So don’t be afraid to try different things.  Don’t distract from your core business, but if you have an idea for a side project, pursue it.  Follow through though.  Get it out.  Fail fast, or succeed and move forward.  Side projects allow you to experiment with ideas.  They allow you to pursue ideas that may be too risky to try with your core business, where there is more to lose.

But please don’t be a cook, be a chef.  If you ever think your industry or your niche is in the commodity stage, where consumers look at all the products or services and the companies that provide them as equal, and where the only differentiation is price, think of Chef Jose Andres.  The picture in this post- that’s a bagel and lox.  You can innovate anything.

1 reply
  1. kiruri says:

    It is interesting that the chef work implies that a chef knows all ins and outs of a cooking profession. He is not only an entrepreneur, but a skilled professional too.

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