Yep – another year, another moment in time to reflect on where you are and where you might be going. To many people a resolution is a futile attempt at changing poor behavior, lost opportunity, broken promises, and failed attempts at positive change. Making a resolution is often a noble attempt at making corrections, while knowing that there is little chance that you will actually follow through.

The three most perplexing statements in life are: could have, should have – didn’t. Most of us can relate to this assessment of a previous year, an assessment that is depressing and self-limiting when we expect that it might be the norm – just the way it is. What is even worse is when we relegate the responsibility for inaction to others: “I didn’t do that because so and so – held me back, placed limitations on me, didn’t support me, or got in my way, etc. More often than not, the responsibility for inaction is ours alone.

“We don’t grow when we stay inside our comfort zone.”


So, if you choose to set a path for the future, knowing that you are in control – then here are some thoughts:


Have a goal, determine what will be needed to achieve that goal, set a course, and work the plan. So, if you know you don’t want to be a line cook all your life and have a desire to be a chef of a property some day: talk with other successful chefs and ask what it takes to get to that point. Should you build your skills by seeking out cooking positions working with certain chefs or restaurants? If this is the case – then send out your resume and ask for an interview. Should you develop your background in some type of culinary program? Then apply to a school and sign up for any scholarships available. Should you enroll in an apprenticeship program? Then do it – you can’t win the lottery unless you buy a ticket. If you really want to reach the goal – then you can. So much of success is attitude and commitment to stay the course. Take the leap!

“If it doesn’t challenge you it won’t change you.”



This is probably one of the most frequently defined resolution and one of the first ones to fall by the wayside. Make this goal realistic if it is to stick. Try a one-mile walk every day as a start. Sign up for “myfitnesspal.com” (it’s free) and start tracking your calories towards a weight loss goal. Ride a bike to work, cut back on the after work drinks, take the stairs instead of an elevator, start with 10 sit-ups each morning and add two more at the end of each week. Do something that allows you to have a goal and reach a goal. Small steps work.


Try not to bottle things up inside. Life is stressful – so is working in a kitchen. To some – the kitchen is a safe haven, a place to escape to, an environment where everyone is accepted and where you can push aside all of life’s challenges and focus on the task at hand. When work is over then all of those life challenges rear up their ugly head and they can be overwhelming. Some are able to cope, while others hit a wall. Some of those challenges are ones that can be rectified by seeking physical assistance or identifying a new source of funding, while others are far deeper and more difficult to address by yourself. Share your issues with a family member, friend, welcoming ear of a coworker, or in some cases – professional help. This is a serious societal problem, but one that there are solutions for. Don’t try to deal with it on your own.


If you fail to commit to improving then you relegate yourself to a stalled career. Adding a skill can be invigorating as well as career enhancing. Align with a coworker who is accomplished with a particular skill and commit to learn, attend a workshop, read a book, watch a YouTube video, stage’ with an expert, and then practice until you get it down. The pride associated with mastering a skill should never be downplayed. Do it for yourself.


Take the pledge: “I promise, from this day forward, to strive for excellence in all that I do. To treat the smallest task as if it were the most important, and treat the largest task as if the details were just as important as the volume of work. Excellence is a habit – not a goal.

[]         FOCUS ON TEAM

Life is a team sport and life in the kitchen is an ultimate team sport. Spend more time developing the attributes of team: listening, respecting each others strengths, and helping every member with their weaknesses, jumping in when and wherever needed, offering critique without being critical, applauding others when they exceed expectations, and patting them on the back when they fail – this is what it means to be part of something bigger than yourself, this is what it means to be part of a kitchen team.   Invest the time in this process and it will pay back in benefits.


Commit in the New Year to finding ways to balance your kitchen life with a daily routine that takes into account your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. Commit to finding that balance point of spending time with friends and family, clearing your head, exercising, taking part in a hobby, reading, listening to music – something that gives you a chance to take a deep breath, push aside the challenges of the job, and feel good about yourself.

[]         DON’T SETTLE

If you wake up in the morning, look in a mirror and think: “what am I doing”; if you walk through those kitchen doors and feel the drudgery of the “same old, same old”; or if you find little excitement in what you are doing or how you are doing it – then make a change. You know what you are capable of, even if others may not – never feel as if “this is it” and relinquish control of your destiny. You have the ability to step out of your current situation and move to something that inspires, aligns with your capabilities, challenges you, and brings that excitement that makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning. Even if it means moving on from the food business – DON’T SETTLE!

[]         SIGN MY WORK

Anything worth doing is worth doing well. Everything that you do carries your signature and is a reflection on your personal brand. No matter how small or large the task – do it as if it were the sole determination of your professional reputation. Peeling onions – make them perfect and do it fast – this is your signature. Filleting fish – do so with care and speed, paying due respect to the fish. Make sure that you work at being the best fish butcher around – this is your signature. Plating up orders on the line – do so as an artist would while presenting a painting – this is your signature. Anything worth doing is worth doing well.


Stay above the fray – don’t succumb to the pettiness that sometimes takes place in the workforce. Don’t criticize others behind their back, don’t allow your work habits to stray from being exceptional, never demean others, always be on time, make sure that you look the part of a professional cook and earn the respect of others in the process. Be the example for others to follow.


If there are parts of being a cook and a caretaker of Nature’s ingredients that are important to you, then don’t set them aside when it is convenient or inconvenient. If they are important then they are part of your character – this is how you want to be perceived and how you are perceived. Stay true.


It may seem easy to drift from viewing your cup as half full and begin to look at life as if it were more difficult than it is. Remember it takes far more facial muscles to frown than it does to smile. In the big scheme of things it is always much more gratifying to find the positive in a situation than to relegate your attitude to being negative.


“Is what I’m doing right now bringing me any closer to achieving my goals.”

Happy New Year!


Harvest America Ventures, LLC

Restaurant Consulting

www.harvestamericacues.com BLOG


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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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