SINGAPORE — Fresh off the plane and straight off to the convention centre at Marina Bay Sands are well-known chefs Eric Ripert of Le Bernadin in New York; the 2017 World’s Best Female Chef Ana Roš; founder of Osteria Francescana, Massimo Bottura; the 2019 World’s Best Female Daniela Soto-Innes; joined by chef Tetsuya Wakuda of Waku Ghin. They are in town for the 18th annual edition of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, an event celebrates and awards outstanding chefs’ achievements and restaurants.
The chefs were on hand to share interesting nuggets of life philosophies and advice regarding work-life balance, career change and motivation on Sunday (23 June) at #50BestTalks, a 90-minute leadership event which stretched an additional 30 minutes, not that the crowd was complaining. Host Anita Kapoor moderated the session, and chef Tetsuya delighted the speakers when he served food on stage.
Here’s what some of them had to say.
Balancing family and work
Eric Ripert: “If you are a good member of your family, they will support you, of course. And if the family supports you, when you go to work, you will be supported by your team. So it basically works like that. And I think balance is very important. Inside the kitchen of a restaurant is very demanding; it's a lot of hours and can be very physical. It's a lot of challenges that we encounter during the day that can be very stressful, therefore, having balance makes a huge difference.”
Ana Ros: “After every rain, the sun comes out. And when the sun comes out, everything is so beautiful. My upcoming book is actually called ‘Sun and Rain’. Because it's all about that and this is how our life is told. This is how we cook; this is the way we live. This is how our mood is, this is the day again, our life. And this is what people who live with us need to learn about. And we try to help them. So we organise things to do together. Last Monday, we had a game of paintball. We’d go water rafting or milk the cows in the mountains. So we try to teach our people how it is to live.”
Asking questions to grow personally and professionally
Massimo: “You know, for a restaurant like ours, the most difficult thing is to create a team, as a team is everything. We have people from Florence, Dubai, everywhere around the world and I think the most difficult thing is to choose these people and to stimulate them in a cultural way to make them feel that they can grow and learn. We have an exercise in the restaurant - which is called, ‘Who are you?’ - as we are trying to teach the young apprentice as staff.
They learn to express themselves, just a couple of weeks after they arrived (at the restaurant). These young generation are really much better than me - they are passionate, devoted, they have culture, they have interest - so they give their lives to the restaurant.”
Massimo: “You have to help them; by being a leader, you have to show them that you are the first one to arrive and the last one to leave. If they see an example like that, they’ll see that we care about them.”
Daniela: “Well, it starts with us, right? If you want someone to act one way, you have to show the example. I think sometimes the problem that I saw, growing up in kitchens is being taught as a group rather than an individual. So it's really important to get to know each person, know how you talk to each person, as some people might react completely different if you say it one way, and to another person, the other way. So for me my responsibilities are to ensure that I get to know each person so they can work towards your vision, but with their own identity; it's really important to not ever change who they are. So being responsible is knowing that you have this talent that you have to shine, but respecting how they think, so, you can grow with them. And you can go back and forth. That's how you have a big family. So be a team.”
It’s okay to switch careers if you believe in yourself
Ana: “I studied International Science and diplomacy. When I graduated with excellence, that was the point when I met my husband, and they had a restaurant. My mom and my dad went into panic, saying, ‘Jesus Christ, she's not going to Brussels to begin the diplomatic career.’ We were dating for six months and I still didn't take the job in Brussels. And mom was like, ‘You’re going to cook.’ I said, no, I don't know how to cook. I often think about that when I saw how quickly things changed. And I saw what I needed to do, was to make it and that was a motivation.”
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