If you could imagine a formula for success in any field it would certainly stem from these four factors: Talent, Passion, Discipline, and Hard Work. When all four are in place – incredible results are inevitable, but ironically talent becomes the icing on the cake. There are numerous examples of individuals who have been very successful through passion, discipline and hard work even without the gift of talent; but on the other hand those with God given talent who are unwilling to muster up the passion, discipline and hard work find only meager results.

In the kitchen, as is the case in music, sports, art, mathematics, science or a multitude of other careers – there are far more people who work extra hard to compensate for a lack of natural talent, but still achieve remarkable success because they are driven – fully committed. Great cooks, as an example, are rarely born – they are made through dedication and extraordinary effort. Here are some guiding points for those who have their eyes pointed in the right direction, heart in the right place, and body fully committed to working their ass off.

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

-Calvin Coolidge


Success will rarely come if the individual is not passionate about what he or she is doing. I always reflect on the movie “Rudy” knowing that his eventual achievement stemmed from his absolute passion for the sport, for Notre Dame, and for being a part of a team. When you find your “Rudy” career then nothing will get in the way of putting in the effort to succeed.


Successful people are self-reflective – they constantly take inventory of the areas where they excel, make sure that they continue to put energy into this – and understand where they fall down and work even harder to understand how to make corrections as well as dedicate the time and effort to improve. These individuals don’t take offense when others point to their weaknesses, but rather take to heart what is necessary to improve or compensate.

[]         HAVE A PLAN:

Successful people don’t seem to take their success one day at a time. They approach life with direction – a roadmap that includes where they want to be, what they need to do to get there, what they need to learn, with which they need to partner, and what incremental improvements look like so that progress can be measured.

[]         WORK THE PLAN:

Successful people take heed of this message every day:

“Is what I am doing right now bringing me any closer to achieving my goals?”


Practice does make perfect – or at least bring you closer every day (unless you practice at failing). The most successful individuals whether they are blessed with talent or not, make the time to practice and demonstrate constant improvement. This becomes an integral part of their everyday routine.

“I’ve always considered myself to be just average talent and what I have is a ridiculous insane obsessiveness for practice and preparation.”

-Will Smith

[]         BE YOUR OWN CRITIC:

The best chefs, musicians, painters, scientists, and writers never wait for those outside critiques (although they always welcome them). These individuals are always self-critiquing their work. Successful people look at what they have done and automatically ask: “How could I make this better tomorrow?” Be forever under-satisfied with your own performance and get back at it.


I can’t emphasize this enough – make the time to improve. Do you want to become a very good golfer? If this is your goal then you must play a round of golf – two or three times every week. Do you want to be able to play an extraordinarily difficult piece of music? If this is your goal, then make sure that you build non-negotiable time into your schedule to practice that piece every day. Do you want to master the preparation and flavor profile of a dish on your menu? Then make that dish countless times under the guidance of a chef who has already master its preparation. Do you want to carve perfect tourne potatoes, and do so with speed and dexterity? Then take home 50 pounds of potatoes every week for a month and carve away. Invest the time.


The most successful people, at the end of the day, are tired and maybe sore; they may be troubled that their performance is not yet up to par, but when they look in a mirror they can smile and say: “There is nothing else that I would rather do.”

I always remember the great football coach, Marv Levy – who at the start of every game that was painstakingly prepared for, meeting with bruised, and anxious players, would say: “Where would you rather be than right here, right now!” Those who dedicate themselves to the work involved in success – relish what they do.

“The game of basketball has been everything to me. My place of refuge, place I’ve always gone where I needed comfort and peace. It’s been the site of intense pain and the most intense feelings of joy and satisfaction. It’s a relationship that has evolved over time, given me the greatest respect and love for the game.”

-Michael Jordan


Perfection and success at any level does not come without some level of pain and disappointment. We all fail, but then again failure is a great teaching tool. Those who fail and choose to use that as a teaching moment are the ones headed in the right direction.

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

-Michael Jordan


Finally, the most successful individuals in any endeavor are those who not only put in the effort, but surround themselves with the type of people who are equally committed (talented or not). There is a support mechanism that keeps everyone on track when those who want it, work it, and believe in it – unite as one body. If you want that golf game to improve then play with golfers who are passionate and committed, and better at it than you. If you want to become an extraordinary musician then throw yourself in with other extraordinary players who have the passion, the drive, and maybe the talent.   If you want to become an excellent chef then work for and with those who demonstrate their total immersion in the craft – volunteer if you must, accept a lesser position if necessary, but make sure that you pick those people with whom you want to work who are the very best at what they do.


Harvest America Ventures, LLC


Restaurant and Culinary School Consulting and Training

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About Me

PAUL SORGULE is a seasoned chef, culinary educator, established author, and industry consultant. These are his stories of cooks, chefs, and the environment of the professional kitchen.


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