Finding Balance with Los Angeles Chefs

Chefs Los Angeles

Loteria Grill founder Jimmy Shaw joined chef Saul Cruz at TOTNLA. [Loteria Grill]

On June 10, at Taste of the Nation Los Angeles, I asked participating chefs, How are you able to maintain balance in your life, if you’re even able to? Find out if and how they’re finding balance.

Brendan Collins (Waterloo & City, Larry’s Venice +Palihouse)

I’m not. Between owning Waterloo & City and having a management company that takes care of two other restaurants, my wife is very patient and my daughter is very patient. We have a goal as a family, and as an individual, there are things I want to achieve in life right now, while I’m still young, and I’m going to work very hard to make sure I achieve those goals.

Greg Daniels (Haven Gastropub)

I can’t say that I’m able to, but I did have a meeting with some of my managers recently and we were just talking about work ethic and stuff like that. The restaurant industry is really hard and it requires a lot. I have a list of things, miles long, of things I’m supposed to do. I try to prioritize and get some of them done. I know that some of them I push aside are never going to get done, or they’re going to get done way late. Each day, I’m just going, and the stress drives me. I think I would be bored to tears if I wasn’t stretching myself thin.

Tony DiSalvo (Whist)

We’ve implemented something called summer hours. It’s funny because traditionally at the hotel we get busier in the summer, but we’ve really made an effort to come in at least an hour later than we typically did, just so we can get a run in, or a bike ride in. It has to be forced. Sometimes it’s not always the best decision work-wise, but I think if we commit 80 hours per week, it’s pretty much our threshold. We definitely have to make a conscious effort, so we remind each other quite often. You have to be unselfish and give other people that respect too. When you take it, hopefully people understand. We definitely are aware of how much we work, and if we have to work short-handed for an hour, that person better be enjoying that time.

Mark Gold (Eva)

There’s no balance, buddy. The only way I can keep any kind of balance is that I live right behind the restaurant. That gives me a little bit of balance. I get to see my kids once in awhile, and that’s the only saving grace, that I live so close.

Perfecto Rocher (Lazy Ox Canteen)

It is very difficult. A chef works from like 7 o’clock to 2 o’clock in the morning every day. You need to be strong, and you need to love what you do. It’s like poker. Some people play for money, and some people play because they love to play. For me, I love poker.

Hourie Sahakian (Short Cake)

I wouldn’t say that I have balance right now. I’m working on it. It’s a goal of mine, but I love it, so it doesn’t matter.

Jimmy Shaw (Loteria Grill)

By putting great people around me, hiring people that are better than I am. That’s the key. And then saying, on the days I have to do something, that’s what I have to do. I work it into my schedule. And as much you can achieve balance, I think part of it is planning for it.

Joshua Smith (Blue Cow Kitchen)

I’m not able to. We’re still kind of in opening phase. There’s definitely some turnover, still, and I work like crazy, so no balance.

Diana Stavaridis (BLD)

Surfing and working out.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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