Chef/Partner of The Lambs Club & Point Royal, Author and TV Personality, Geoffrey Zakarian has worked with numerous hotels and restaurants throughout the years. For him, the possibilities in his chosen field are endless.
“Hospitality knows no limits. I love welcoming people into my home and my world. People are usually coming in open and ready to explore or relax, so we get them at their best.”
Colleges and universities across the industry offer hospitality programs and certificates that have paved the way for famous chefs and world-renowned hoteliers. Dining at three-star restaurants overseas was actually the turning point in Zakarian’s career path, which led him to the Culinary Institute of America.
“It all began in France,” he said. “I fell in love with the culture and hospitality of food, and the role that chefs played. It was like a food Hollywood.”
Zakarian started his career in New York City during the restaurant boom. He’s amazed by the industry’s evolution.
“It’s remarkable. I’ve been in New York City for 40 years,” he said. “The last 30 years have been a rocket ship of great restaurants, new concepts, and tremendous adaptation to new customer culinary needs.”
For students drawn to the hospitality field, earning a degree is an important step in embarking on a career. It can also expose them to new ways of thinking. Zakarian combined two sectors of hospitality when he opened Point Royal and Counter Point dining services within The Diplomat Beach resort in Hollywood, Florida.
“I believe resorts now are full-time facilities, devoted more to the customer than ever, so it made sense to capture the customer on his or her daily journeys,” Zakarian said. “It’s quite predictable how they set up these days on vacation like their habits back home.”
Chasing a dream
Like Zakarian, celebrated chef Anne Burrell is committed to pleasing others. From an early age, she seemed destined for a career in hospitality.
“Even when I was a little kid, I loved helping set the table on holidays,” explained the indefatigable star of “Secrets of a Restaurant Chef” and co-host of “Worst Cooks in America.” “I’ve always just loved the idea of entertaining people, providing for people, and making them feel happy. It spreads joy.”
Understanding the dos and don’ts
Burrell, a former instructor at the Culinary Institute of Education and best-selling cookbook author, says that success takes hard work and a willingness to always show up with a positive attitude.
“Ask questions, but keep your eyes open. Learn as much as possible and always leave the cell phone in your locker. Even when first entering the industry, I was always so driven. I was like a sponge, just trying to absorb as much as I could.”
Having studied in Italy and worked at some of the top restaurants in New York, Burrell says expecting overnight success is unrealistic.
“There are actually years of work that go in between culinary school and the first time you really are a chef. Those years are fundamentally important.”
Burrell also enjoys mentoring her reality show boot camp recruits.
“I love to see them really embrace the hard work and just get immersed in it,” she said. “I always tell every competitor, ‘Whether you’re here for a little or a long time, this show will change your life.’”
As for taking her own leap into the culinary world, Burrell has no regrets.
“I just really found what my passion was and have truly never looked back.”