That’s the only thing that is guaranteed – your opportunity to believe in yourself.
Certified Master Chef Daryl Shular is one of the most talented and respected chefs in the country.
With competition being in his blood, stemming from a sports background, he has won over twelve gold medals, eight “Best in Shows,” and was on the ACF United States Culinary Olympic Team as they won top honors against 63 teams at the IKA “Culinary Olympics” and brought home gold.
As though the achievement of culinary Olympian wasn’t enough, Chef Daryl Shular continued to push himself to the highest level possible and came face-to-face with one of the toughest tests of all time, the Certified Master Chef examination. After a grueling 130-hour, eight-day test, Daryl solidified his legacy by becoming the first African-American to be awarded the designation of Certified Master Chef.
To this day, even with all the accolades, he remains humble and fiercely dedicated to giving back to the industry. He is consistently on tour throughout the US to empower culinary students to not just follow in his footsteps but to go beyond.
Excerpt of Chef Daryl Shular’s Interview
Drop the Sense of Entitlement
When I tried out for the Olympic team, I had a track record of winning competitions. So I went in with a sense of entitlement and thought, “I won all these competitions, now I’m ready to be on the Olympic team. I had a huge awakening. A sense of entitlement causes you to overlook the fundamentals. It caused you to not pay attention to the details. It causes you to take the little things for granted. It causes you to not push yourself that extra hour of training or studying or take the time to make sure everything is in place.
Every Level is a New Starting Point
I think a lot of young people, especially young professionals coming up, they feel because they’ve done well on a certain level, they believe that they could transcend to another level and be successful at that level as well. When in fact, each level is a new starting point.
Use Failure to Your Advantage
Failure can be your best friend if you look at it the right way. If you look at it because of personal ego, then you may think failure is your enemy. If you look at it as if you are assessing yourself and you put the blame on yourself, and no one else, then you can start to identify the areas you need to work on in order to get to the next level.
Anyone who’s going through a rough period, do not brainwash yourself to think you can’t do it because you can. Look at yourself first and don’t blame a kitchen, a judge, a product not being at the quality it should be. Put the blame on yourself and start to analyze what could you have done more, because you can do more.
Control Your Fears
During the time when I was trying to make the decision to either go for the Olympic team again or pursue the CMC exam, the reason why I was so reluctant of taking the exam was because I did not want to fail. That’s the reason why experiences like trying out for the Olympic team impacted me so much because I knew that if I went for it, I’d have to be willing to accept coming home unsuccessful.
I had to control my fears and my self-doubts and just put my head down and bounce back from failing to make the Olympic team. It meant getting back into the fundamentals of cooking – paying attention to the details, getting into the kitchen and really working on my setup and timing.
Don’t Be Afraid of Success
One thing I share whenever I go around the country and speak to schools and companies is the fear of success. It’s not so much about the fear of failure because we all know how to get up after we fall. You get hurt for a moment and then it’s over. When you are successful, the question is, “Are you really ready for that level of life?” Because you know what? Now you can’t really stay home and take a nap. Now you really can’t say, “Hey, you know I’ll push that off until the morning, or I’ll just wing it.” You can’t do that now.
Be the Example
With success, much is given, and much is required. You have to believe in the goal you set out to achieve, and you can’t do it for the wrong reasons. If you go after a goal because you know it’s a stepping stone for you to really help others, then you will be successful.
When you achieve great levels of success and you have a platform, it’s not so you can stand up and beat your chest as the “king of the culinary world,” because you’re not. You are responsible for standing up there to show others how to get up the mountain. And that means you have to through the rugged side in order get there.
Develop Listening Skills
It’s important to really listen to what people are saying and become interested in their background. You want to know their back-story because if you don’t know it, you don’t know why they do the things they do in different situations. For instance, when it’s busy in a restaurant or hotel, what’s their threshold? Where’s the point where an individual loses their cool or their focus? What causes the person to become timid? There’s something behind that back-story that will give you the answer to why a person does what they do.
Learn & Embrace Business Fundamentals
It’s so important that young culinarians, or just young professionals as a whole, embrace both sides of the coin. Be a tactician, be a skilled professional, but flip the coin over and be a strong-skilled business person and manage the bottom line and grow the business. Even if you have to work for a company and use them as practice platform, that’s fine. They’ll benefit from your efforts, and you’ll benefit from their provisions.
Look Ahead to the Future
I’d encourage people to really look ahead. Look to see what you want for your future, and begin building it today. For me, I’ve always wanted to own something. I wanted something to leave behind for my kids, I want a legacy, and I want to show people you can grow up a minority and achieve your goals from your hard work.
I want young culinarians and people from all different walks of life to look at their current situation and say, “I can own something, I can leave something behind,” because if you embrace both sides of the coin, you can.
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