Food is fashion in America, and cooks have gone from servants to masters," says Cory Schreiber, chef-owner of Portland, Oregon's Wildwood Restaurant & Bar and himself a cookbook author and television personality. "To succeed, you have to learn to think like a business person."
Boy, have chefs done exactly that. A generation ago, chefs rarely poked their noses out of the kitchen - and even more rarely did they own those kitchens - but now they are multimedia stars and CEOs of miniconglomerates. The Food Network alone is a nonstop shrine to the cooks who have turned themselves into megabusinesses.
But the failure rate of restaurants still tops 95 percent, and even those that succeed don't necessarily produce a chef-cum-business empire. Exactly what do today's celebrity chefs know about climbing to the top in a treacherous business? Read on for heaping servings of wisdom from celebrated cooks.
Little Things Count
"The hottest table in town" - that's how Gourmet magazine describes Babbo, Mario Batali's signature restaurant in Greenwich Village. Batali himself just may be the hottest chef around. His other Manhattan eateries (Lupa and Esca) are always full, he has his own show on Food Network ("Molto Mario"), and he's just introduced a line of pasta sauces at the Trader Joe's gourmet shops.