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National Restaurant Association - Starting out in foodservice? Read these 4 tips for success

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Starting out in foodservice? Read these 4 tips for success

When the newest Culinary Institute of America graduates received their degrees July 24, National Restaurant Association chairman Ken Conrad offered them a few “secrets for success.”

Conrad, chairman and owner of Libby Hill Seafood Restaurants in Greensboro, N.C., delivered the Institute’s commencement speech, telling the graduates success is theirs for the taking if they recognize the following:

  • This is not a one-size-fits-all business. Conrad cited the stories of Atour Eyvazian, who arrived in the United States from Iran in 1979 unable to speak English and without any money, and today is managing partner of the largest Jack in the Box franchisee; and a family friend, also a CIA graduate, who found his calling not in the kitchen, but selling specialty produce to chefs every day. He also talked of his own experience, starting as a dishwasher in his father’s restaurant and buying a failing restaurant at age 23 that he has turned into a thriving, 17-unit restaurant company.
  • Hard work is how you do it. “When we start climbing the ladder, we start on the lowest rung,” he said. “But because of all your work here at the CIA, you are really starting nearer the second floor. And that is great! Take advantage of everything you’ve learned here.”
  • Don’t lose faith even if it becomes a difficult journey. “There will be some curves in the highway and sometimes you will have to back up. But in the end, I believe in you, the faculty at the Culinary Institute of America believes in you, your parents, spouses and mentors believe in you, and most of all – you have cause to believe in yourselves.”
  • Do what you truly love to do. “The restaurant industry will give you the pathway to the American Dream: owning your own business or just living the life you’ve been dreaming of. But you will work for your success. Just make sure you are doing something you truly love. Remember, if you do what you love you will never be bored a day in your life.”

Conrad said the restaurant industry is a great place to achieve career goals and make dreams come true.

“No matter what direction you take, you have the opportunity to achieve your dreams. It’s been a wonderful career for me and I hope it will be as wonderful for all of you.”

Teamwork, multitasking and customer service are among the lessons employees learn early on in their restaurant industry careers. Share your #FirstJob lessons with @WeRRestaurants on Twitter.

Pictured, top right: Ken Conrad

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