Food Network Star Geoffrey Zakarian Distills the Entire Hospitality Industry Down Into Just 48 Words

“I tell people what they’re doing wrong — isn’t that what we all need?” 

Geoffrey Zakarian

megastar Geoffrey Zakarian is joking. Kind of. The mythical chef and restaurateur spent a long time perfecting his craft in kitchens (making tens of millions of diners happier and fatter within the intervening time) and has long gone on to use his culinary genius to best-selling cookbooks, a consulting industry and unforgettable activates displays like Chopped, Iron Chef and The

Now he is were given a new display, Big Restaurant Bet, that mixes his hospitality and into a contest that can depart meals marketers all over drooling. Zakarian is giving 8 the danger to win an funding of $250,000 of his sources to assist propel their emerging megastar within the eating place global. “We really put them through the wringer,” Zakarian says. “We put them in real business restaurant relationships, not telling them just to cook, but to cook with a purpose. To cook with a lot of things in mind, like making a profit, running the front of the house, the back of the house. It’s not easy, and the winner gets myself and my wife and our company to help them with all this stuff that they don’t know how to do yet.”

Related: Explosion Cake Mastermind Amirah Kassem Reveals Her Creativity Secrets 

As the contest takes to the airwaves of Food Network (watch new episodes right here), Zakarian took a couple of mins to sit down down and communicate meals and industry on the newest episode of the Get a Real Job podcast. Here are excerpts from the dialog, that have been edited for duration and readability. Bon appetit!

Being a cafe proprietor comes to much more than cooking

“Being a great chef doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to be a good restaurant owner. When you’re a great chef — and all these chefs on our show are really talented — you get a paycheck every week. And whenever your shift is over, you check out and have no responsibility. You’re not responsible for the payroll, the P&L, HR, staffing problems, heat, electricity bills, rent management, furniture, breaking refrigeration, cooling, stoves and maintenance. You’re not responsible for any of that crap. But the minute you open your own restaurant, you’re responsible. For all of it. And you don’t get a salary. So it’s sort of like this ridiculous equation that you have to swallow. But here’s the thing: Entrepreneurship is a gamble, but it’s the best gamble, because you’re gambling on yourself.” 

A chef by no means stops cooking

“I have been involved in the business of for a long time, but my passion for cooking has never gone away. It’s like asking a musician if they don’t play the piano anymore. Cooking is what I do. The range is my piano. I’m there every day with my kids, and I cook every day for the family. I’m always working on recipes and projects and retail things to sell. Everything has to do with what’s around the table and in the kitchen. My deep passion for food got me in this business in the first place.”

Why we want eating places greater than ever

“Whether you’re a lawyer or you’re a coder, you want to go to the hottest restaurant, and you want to have fun. You want to go out and drink. You want to go to a place where you can forget your stresses and just enjoy it. That’s my job. And when I want to go out, I’m the same way. I want to have a good time, so I love trying to help these entrepreneurs. I love mentoring, and I’ve been mentored myself and, you know, been pulled out of the mud many times and learned a lot of valuable lessons. So I want to give back as much as I can, and what a great way to do it with all these great American chefs.”

Related: The Incredible Story Behind Chef Derrick’s Waffles and Whatnot

His recommendation to younger eating place homeowners

“If I were just starting out as a restaurateur, I would go after a guy like — a real nuts and bolts guy who has done this a million times before and can do it in his sleep. I’d say, ‘Listen, I want to open my own restaurant. I’ll take whatever deal you are willing to offer. Just do everything that I don’t know how to do. And if the first one’s successful, then we’ll change the deal on the next one.’ That’s what I would have done. I advise people to do that because, look, 10 percent of a wet is much better than a hundred percent of a dry.”

Building a spot the place folks wish to be

“Hire people who have self-respect, who are very well-mannered and who have a sense of urgency. Those are the best people. And you can’t teach that. Come to me and say, ‘I’ve never worked in a restaurant before. I have no idea what I’m doing, but I love this business. I want to kill myself.’ That is a much better statement to me than, ‘I worked at Le Cirque, I worked at Daniel, I was sous chef over here, and blah, blah, blah.’ Anyone can learn this business, because hospitality is very basic. You learned it from your grandmother, right? Going to your grandma’s house, is there ever a doubt that you will get well fed and taken care of? It’s going to be warm, you’re going to have a drink right away, and everything’s going to be perfect and ready when you get there. There’s no doubt. And that, in a nutshell, is the restaurant business.”

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