$100 Conversation with Chef Geoffrey Blanchette

I paid $100 to Chef Geoffrey Blanchette to share the wisdom he’s learned throughout his career with me. Chef Geoff is an American Culinary Federation Certified Executive Chef, has been to 9 world competitions, has 57 world medals, and has been working in the cooking industry for 36 years.  He’s currently the owner of RBI Steakhouse in The Philippines.

Chef Geoff’s Coolest Culinary Experience

Doing a party for Jimmy Buffet with Donald Trump and Jeb Bush

Chef Geoff’s Favorite Chef Movie

No Reservations

Chef Geoff’s Life Wisdom

More money doesn’t make you more happy.  You have to take time to figure out what happiness and success means for you.  Is it really money?  Is it fame?  Is it family time?  Is it health?  You should figure out what drives your happiness before you continue on a career path.  You have to figure out on your own what you really want in life.

Chef Geoff’s Chef Wisdom

Pursuing a career in culinary arts has been over glamorized.  Being a chef is NOT glamorous.  It’s 100% work, 100% of the time.  When everyone else is off, you’re working.  You work on nights, weekends, and holidays.  You will give up a lot in life to be a professional chef.

Having a passion for cooking and a passion for creating food for people to enjoy is what you need to become a professional chef.  If you’re not committed to being a chef long-term, then you shouldn’t start.

One benefit to being a chef is job security.  People always have to eat.  The turnover rate in culinary is huge.  You won’t make a ton of money, but you’ll always have work, and it can be fun.

These are 4 of the main types of chefs:

  • Working Chef (spends most of their time in the kitchen)
  • Executive Chef (managing bigger operations, usually lots of business and travel involved)
  • Chef/Owner (runs a restaurant, does everything)
  • Celebrity Chef (competitions, television, building your personal brand, very time intensive)

Chef Geoff’s Wisdom For Someone Attending Culinary School

Learn every area of culinary arts and be as well rounded as you can.  Compete, compete, compete.  Get involved in every event.  You’ll learn more from competitions than you will at school.  And, networking is the key to everything.  When you graduate, find an establishment with a great chef and get mentored.  Start at the bottom, and respect every level.  Join the American Culinary Federation along with other associations, and be involved in your community.  As you prove yourself, you’ll move up.  Expect to make $30k-60k.  If you’re in it for glory, go to competitions.  It took me 20 years to find success.

Chef Geoff’s Wisdom For Someone Opening a Restaurant

Don’t do it.  

But, if you really want to:

Location is #1.

Networking is #2.

Branding is #3.

Do your homework.  Research demographics.  Know your client base.  Have a business plan.  Invest in good signage and marketing.  Have enough money to run the restaurant for 6 months before you open.  Have a niche.  If it’s steak, have the best steak in town.  If it’s pizza, make pizza that no one else makes.  

The biggest mistake I see people make when opening a restaurant is having a poor opening.  Before you open you should be advertising and handing out business cards to everyone you meet.  Before you open your doors thousands of people should know who you are.  Build buzz and anticipation before the doors open.  Your grand opening should be huge!  When I opened my restaurant I gave away over $5,000 worth of free food.  It’s similar to seeing a movie on opening weekend…if the theater is empty it loses momentum.  If it’s packed, the movie will be successful.  Also, if you’re in the kitchen the whole time, you’re doing it wrong.  The owner should be talking to everyone in the restaurant having genuine conversations every day.

Published by Nevan Hooker

I'm a Hooker from Las Vegas. I write news commentary and analysis at http://www.nevan.com.

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