Stories / Interviews

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

Hilary Deutsch

Hilary Deutsch

September 28, 2015


As we transition from warm summer days to cooler temperatures and the harvest that fall brings, we also welcome a formidable roster of culinary talent to the Beard House—including a few JBF Award nominees. Highlighting cuisines and techniques from across the globe, these top toques bring tastes of Venice, New Orleans, Jackson Hole, and Atlanta (just to name a few) to the Big Apple. We asked our September Beard House chefs to share the most memorable and encouraging advice they've ever received—read on to find out what tokens of truths these chefs hold near and dear.


September 10: Brian Mercury, Harvest Restaurant

"You can't get a clean cut with a dirty knife! It can be taken literally and figuratively."

September 11: Spencer Budros, Pistacia Vera

"Treat the process and your people with beauty and grace. The rest will follow."

September 11: Bill Glover, Gallerie Bar & Bistro

"My uncle Frank Ruscetti told me, 'The true secret to giving advice is, only give it when asked, and after you have honestly given it, be perfectly indifferent whether it is taken or not, and never persist in trying to set people right.'"

September 12: Braden Reardon, NYY Steakhouse

"When we were designing our menu and developing our concept, Michael Richey, one of my old coworkers from San Francisco once told me, 'Good chefs make money for their restaurants.'"

September 15: Adam Goetz, CRāVing

"My first day of work, at my first job in Manhattan, my chef asked what my most important tool was in the kitchen. When I showed him my knife, he said, 'WRONG.' He gave me a 3-pound box of kosher salt and told me if I could master this salt, it would make the difference between a good chef and a great chef. I'm still trying."

September 16: Noah French, Sugarmill

"What sets apart a great chef and restaurant from a lesser one is attention to detail in food AND service."

September 16: Kevin Grossi, Lola Mexican Fish House

"Find a hobby that you love. To get through this industry alive it’s important to have that balance."

September 18: Tim Ma, Water & Wall

“Believe. I know that sounds like a cat poster, but it's true.” —The Lego Movie

"Heard this after we opened our first restaurant, but it really falls in line with how we were living back then. We believed we could survive and open this restaurant, and we didn't take ourselves too seriously doing it."

September 18: Nyi Nyi Myint, Water & Wall

"My mom always says, 'never lie to yourself.'"

September 18: Neal Wavra, Water & Wall

"When I was 18, my father told me to enjoy my age because it was the last time I would 'know everything.'"

September 19: Enrica Rocca, Enrica Rocca Cooking School Venice, London, Cape Town

"Be passionate, be true to yourself, and be authentic."

September 25: Giovanni Rocchio, Valentino Cucina Italiana

"Work hard, work clean, be honest, be creative, and keep your integrity. I learned it from my father."

September 26: Todd Ginsberg, The General Muir

"My father instilled this in me, not in these exact words, but through the way he parented me: create your own path and listen to your gut."

September 29: Bryan Sikora, La Fia

"Things need to be simple and make sense—and remember to be respectful."

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