Since her first day as a culinary graduate student, Stephanie Izard knew that she had found her calling in the food industry. As the owner of five restaurants, including Girl & the Goat, Izard has a wealth of experience not only cooking professionally, but running multiple businesses. On a recent Office Hours episode, Izard talked about how taking risks helped her business goals become a reality. In this bonus Q&A, she discusses how she stays organized, handling adversity, and work habits.
Workspace & Routine
If you’ve spent more time than usual at home this year…
Do you have a workspace or office at home? Tell us about it. Did you have this space before the pandemic?
Stephanie: When the restaurants were closed for six weeks, I found myself in my kitchen, which is my workspace at home. I did more video content and at-home cooking than I had done in a long time, and I even made myself a downstairs gym. You have to make use of the space you have and turn it into something that you can use every day. The space was there before the pandemic, but I turned it into something useful.
Are you someone who needs an organized workspace, or are you comfortable with a little clutter?
Stephanie: I live a life of clutter.
What bad work habits (if any) are you guilty of & how have you overcome them?
Stephanie: Trying to take on too many things at once. But I've learned to trust the amazing people around me, and do more delegating and working with my team, rather than trying to do too many things myself.
Do you consider yourself more of an introvert or extrovert, and how does that affect the way you work?
Stephanie: I think it depends on the situation. Over time, I've become more of an extrovert when I’m “working” and doing cooking demos, or if I’m out and about with people who enjoy our restaurants. But when I'm working on new dishes - or in the kitchen and really trying to be creative - I'm a little more of an introvert and get very nervous to share new creations with members of the team.
Time & Organization
How do you approach time management for a workday? Is it one solid block of time that’s over at 6 p.m.? Or is a workday a few blocks of scheduled tasks with personal time interspersed?
Stephanie: Not sure that chefs would be able to use the same approach to their workday. Our workday starts early in the morning and ends late at night. We try to fit in as many things as possible as the day goes on with attempts at planning, but it’s impossible to plan, with all the fires to put out as the day goes on (people calling off, new hurdles to jump over). Basically, being a chef is trying to get everyone through the day, and as much as you try to plan, you just can’t.
What are three things you do to gear up for your workday?
Stephanie: Work out, have a little morning fun with my five-year-old, to remember the true happiness of life, and get a nice, big cup of coffee.
Can you name a few ways that you keep yourself organized during the day, e.g. an app, a planner, a physical to-do list?
Stephanie: I used to lose my physical planner or notebook, so I now set different alarms in my phone at different times of day when I know a meeting is coming up, or I have someplace to be. It helps remind me in the midst of something else that I need to be somewhere else.
How do (or don’t) you separate business tasks from personal ones?
Stephanie: As a chef, a lot of the people I’m connected with in life also work with me, so it’s always a little interconnected. But when I go home and spend time with my little one, I try my best to disconnect.
Many business entrepreneurs say hard work and luck are the main ingredients for success. Can you tell us about a time when things didn’t go your way, and how you responded?
Stephanie: To be honest, it took me a moment to answer that because so many moments are popping into my head: little things along the way that didn’t always go the way they were planned. But for me, it’s about not having a plan and not trying to guess exactly what’s going to happen next. Just take each day one at a time and try to find success in every day.
Just for Fun: Out of Office
We business professionals devote much of our lives to our careers. But what we do with our time off from work can tell us a lot about who we are as people. Please tell us…
In your spare time, do you prefer winding down – meditation and movie nights – or gearing up, e.g. rock climbing, traveling, etc.?
Stephanie: A combination of the two – rock climb to a movie?
What does an ideal vacation look like to you? What activities are you most likely to engage in?
Stephanie: What’s a vacation? Just kidding; I like a combination of beach time, adventure time, and exploring fun, new, tasty foods.
What’s one thing you’ve done in your time off that has stuck with you as a defining moment for you?
Stephanie: During my travels to Southeast Asia, I can still remember sitting on a street corner eating a bowl of razor clams and sipping on a beer. It was 95 degrees and sunny. I could taste all of the layers of flavor of that bowl of razor clams, and it only cost one dollar. It just reminded me of everything that there should be in every bite of food that you take. Simplicity combined with the complex layers of flavor is how I like to think about food.
What’s one place – a country, vacation spot, landmark, etc. – that’s high on your bucket list?
Stephanie: Paris. Yep, I still have not been to Paris.
This interview is part of Office Hours, a series that connects you with entrepreneurs and experts and tips for running and growing a business right now. Find other can’t-miss conversations by visiting our Events page.