How Leading American Chefs Define Success

Chef New York City

Donatella Arpaia operates three restaurants in New York City and has a clear vision for success.

At Pebble Beach Food & Wine, I asked eight chefs a pivotal question: “What will it take to consider your work in restaurants a success?” Their responses might surprise you.

Donatella Arpaia

When it’s all said and done, when I can go away for more than two days and come back and it’s being executed exactly the way I want it to be. It’s very hard to achieve that, to train my staff to think the way I do, and to see what I see, so I have a little bit of freedom. That rarely happens.

Justin Cogley (Aubergine)

For us, our first goal is to establish a destination restaurant. We now have people traveling to eat where we are, to show off our area and our local seafood. We do want Michelin to come down. They go to Manresa, which is an hour and 15 minutes away. We believe we are doing solid food, to be on that level. We have a larger team now. We have all our goals set. That’s definitely a dream of mine. It’s also to make all our guests happy.

Justin Everett (Murray Circle)

Just the continual dedication of our guests that keep returning. I’ve been able to spend more and more time getting to know our guests, and seeing them come back time and time again. That’s how I gauge our success, the guests that come through our front door.

Tyler Florence (Wayfare Tavern + El Paseo)

I feel like I’m a success. We have three stars in The San Francisco Chronicle. We just got a Beard nomination, Best Chef: West Coast. We paid our restaurant partners back and we’re flowing cash. I would say that’s a success.



Joshua Lurie

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

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