Stories / Interviews

Ask a Chef: November Beard House Toques Share the Best Advice They've Ever Received

Hilary Deutsch

Hilary Deutsch

November 24, 2015


As we bundle up and brace for the dropping temperatures, there's practically nothing we enjoy more than warming ourselves from the outside in by feasting on autumn's colorful bounty. With the frost setting in, we welcome a formidable roster of culinary talent to the Beard House. Highlighting cuisines and techniques from across the globe, these top toques bring tastes of Arizona, the Bay Area, Chicago, and the U.K. (just to name a few) to the Big Apple.

We asked our November guest chefs to share the most memorable and encouraging advice they've ever received—read on to see find out what tokens of truth these chefs hold near and dear.

November 2: Michael Langdon, Glenmaura National Golf Club, Moosic, PA

“To be a great chef, it takes the ultimate dedication and sacrifice. The true test of a great chef is how he can perform when he is weeks past exhausted.” — Chef John Tabone

November 3: Tony Ferrari, Hillside Supper Club, San Francisco

My parents didn't come from much and worked their asses off to raise us kids as normal as possible, and I admire what they’ve done for me. I often wondered and asked why they worked so hard, and they always say it was to give me and my siblings a better life. My mom always told me to stay strong and chase my dreams—so that’s what I've done—and she's always supported me. You have to go and get what you want in life; it won't just come to you. Put yourself out there and show people what you’re about. Be honest, be humble, and do the best you can every day.

November 3: Jonathon Sutton, Hillside Supper Club, San Francisco

My Italian grandfather, Mario Cicotti, always told me from a young age that whatever I decide to do with my life is up to me, and if I do it with integrity and passion, success will follow.

November 4: Brian Alberg, The Red Lion Inn, Stockbridge, MA

Josh Morris, one of my previous general managers, always said, “You get what you inspect, not what you expect…”

November 4: Adam Brassard, The Red Lion Inn, Stockbridge, MA

One of my CIA instructors, chef Mattel, once told me, “Cook from the heart and it will show on your plate.”

November 4: Dan Thomas, The Red Lion Inn, Stockbridge, MA

“You can do anything you want in life. Just make sure it makes you happy.” — My mom

November 4: Adam Zieminski, Cafe Adam, Great Barrington, MA

The best advice I’ve ever received was to literally turn the flame down. A great chef named Jeff Thompson from the Wheatleigh Hotel in Lenox, Massachusetts told me this. I learned how to slow-cook things under his tutelage.

November 5: Scott L. Jones, Menton, Boston

“Never second-guess yourself. And don't cook angry.” — Patrick Campbell

November 6: Walter Apfelbaum, NYY Steak at Seminole Casino, Coconut Creek, FL

“Treat everything you do with respect and show it love and care.” — My father

November 6: Jared Boller, Seminole Gaming, Hollywood, FL 

There's not a quote that particularly stands out, but my parents have always supported everything I've done in my life. They always allowed me and my siblings to think that we could actually do whatever we wanted in this world. With the parental support and love from my family, I was able to begin an incredible journey and have never looked back since I left Iowa.

November 14: Chris Mills, JOEY Restaurants, multiple locations in Canada and Seattle

Best advice I didn’t ask for: “The apprentice will soon be the master, and I will be coming for your job!” — Kevin Cherkas (a.k.a. my apprentice who kept me on my toes!)

November 17: Claudio Cardoso, SUSHISAMBA London, London, UK

The most powerful advice I’ve ever received is from my parents, who always encouraged me to have no regrets and to enjoy life to the fullest.

November 19: Ciro Longobardo, Piccolo Sogno and Piccolo Sogno Due, Chicago

The best piece of advice I've ever received was from my father. He told me that if I put passion into my work and I continued to work at it, eventually it would pay off. He taught me that it’s possible to translate your passion to customers.

November 19: Tony PrioloPiccolo Sogno and Piccolo Sogno Due, Chicago

“The harder you work the luckier you get. And don't give up—sometimes you fall down, but you will always get up.” — Gambino Sotelino

November 20: Kelly Fletcher, El Chorro, Tempe, AZ

"Never rely on anybody to promote you. You have to do that yourself." — Chef Chuck Wiley

November 20: Joshua Hebert, Posh, Scottsdale, AZ

Don't be afraid to fail.

November 20: Stephen Jones, Yard Bird + The Larder at Desoto Market, Phoenix​

Keep your head down and always have sharp knives.

November 20: Bernie Kantak, The Gladly, Phoenix and Citizen Public House, Scottsdale, AZ 

“Use it or lose it.” — Allen Mooney at SUNY Cortland

November 26: Jeremy Glover, Ceia Kitchen + Bar, Newburyport, MA

Lead by example.

November 26: Justin Shoults, Brine, Newburyport, MA and Oak + Rowan, Boston

The best advice I’ve ever received was from my father who told me, "Do it with passion. Dream, drive, and always keep your eye on the prize."

For upcoming Beard House dinners, check out our events calendar.


Hilary Deutsch is editorial assistant at the James Beard Foundation. Find her on Instagram.