Though he’s a successful chef, business owner, TV personality, and more, Richard Blais still gets a kick out of determining the right recipe.
During a recent episode of Office Hours, Blais discussed his passion for the process – whether it's in a restaurant kitchen or in front of the camera.
After earning the title of runner-up during Top Chef season 4, Blais later became the champion in Top Chef: All-Stars in 2011.
Here’s how he learned to love the long game and keep cultivating creativity with his team.
1. Enjoy the process.
Finding a career you love is important, Blais noted. While frying fish in the fast food industry, Blais realized he loved it much more than his high school classes, which led him toward culinary school. His love for the business has helped Blais create and run multiple restaurants, with two new ones on the way.
“If it doesn’t feel like work, that’s a great indicator you’re doing something you love,” he said. “The restaurant business is so tough, there has to be a passion to it. If you’re running a business [it] should be something you also love.”
Whether he's assembling a team for a new restaurant or filming a TV show, making people happy ties his work together, Blais said.
“It is very simple," he said. "Whatever the situation is, I'm trying to, as an artist, make you feel something. I like to make sure that feeling is happiness and joy most of the time."
2. Be open-minded.
Being open to ideas and inspiration means new opportunities can come your way, Blais said.
“Strategize your way to victory by saying 'yes' frequently, taking opportunities, and not being afraid of failure,” he said.
Being part of a restaurant team is similar to playing on a sports team, he added, meaning everyone helps each other out. A willingness to try, fail, and get back up can be crucial – and no role is too small.
“It might mean dropping fries or making hamburgers or working the cash register or whatever it is, but that's teamwork, right? Everyone has a role to play," he said.
An open mind is crucial for starting a new restaurant, he added, noting it's hard to know a restaurant’s identity until it's been open for 90-120 days. Having contingency plans like adjusting price points can be important, he said.
"Until you have real live guests coming in, you don’t quite know what a restaurant’s going to become," he said.
3. Collaborate creatively.
Collaborations help Blais and his team craft creative ideas together. Every idea is worth considering, according to Blais – from the culinary team to customers.
“Don’t be afraid of other great ideas and people you may perceive as being challenging to you,” he said. “You might not make all the changes, but we do want the feedback. Even if you don’t agree, take the data.”
Additionally, each team member brings their own ideas and experiences to the table. For Blais, it’s key that business owners listen to them in order to learn and grow, no matter how much experience they have.
“Collaboration is so important and so hard in the archaic system of being a chef that was ‘my way or the highway,’” he said. “Surround yourself with greatness, and everyone together will become better."
Following a passion, being open-minded, and collaborating with others can be key to business success. For Blais, it also helps to not take it all too seriously.
“The most rewarding part for me has been to get away from feeling like food or one dish is life and death,” he said. “It is food, and it is super important. But I've learned how to be serious about my craft, not serious about myself."
This article is part of Office Hours, a series that connects you with entrepreneurs and expert tips for running and growing a business right now. Find their can’t-miss conversations here.