Lessons Learned

Alumni talk

Giuseppe Tentori, Executive Chef, Boka

"One thing Charlie told me when I was chef de cuisine: 'By Christmas you need to gain 10 pounds. Eat everything, try everything.' I gained five pounds. I went to Boka and then lost it because of stress."

David LeFevre, Chef and Co-Owner, MB Post

"I can’t explain to you the intense attention to detail that chef Trotter had. It wasn’t just about food. It was about everything. It was a mark on a plate. It was putting tape on the bottom of servers' shoes when we got new carpet so it would collect the lint faster. And it wasn’t crazy. It was just a way of looking at things that was very focused on details. And maybe a lot of those things the guests never even noticed, but if you accumulated all of them, and you didn’t pay attention to all those things, then you would notice."

Bill Kim, Chef and Owner, UrbanBelly

"Really as a cook, you never get to speak in public, and you zone into work and that’s all you do. When I was probably 25, Charlie put me on the spot and had me describe a dish. And I got through it and made things up, and he said to me, 'As a chef, you need to be a great cook, that’s a given, but you have to be able to speak in public and articulate your thoughts to be a great chef.'"

Karen Shields, Executive Pastry Chef, Town House

"He was a very detail-oriented man with a very keen eye, so I always thought, 'How could I learn from all his idiosyncrasies?' Like dusting the tops of light switches? He made a very strong point about shutting doors, like if you were to shut a door, never shut a door with your foot. If you have grace in your motions, working for him, working in his restaurant, at the end of the day, you will be a great chef."

2003-end of 2007

John Shields, Executive Chef, Town House

"A line that I read a long time ago, was, 'If it’s not broken, break it.' I think it was on the back of his Lessons in Excellence book. That’s when I knew I wanted to work for someone like that. Okay, we’ve done that, so smash that, and let’s do something else. I learned about always pushing yourself, not just riding it out. Not just patting yourself on the back."


Mindy Segal, Chef and Owner, Hot Chocolate

"I was making ice cream base, and I was scooping ice to put into my water bath. I think I was doing that really loudly, so he came up from the office and he suggested that maybe if I did it with care and thoughtfulness, I would be more graceful. I think what he was trying to say was the best way to hurry up was to slow down, and I always think about that moment, about how I can do something more gracefully and better."