I asked my first chef mentor, “What’s the secret to your success from all of these years cooking for others?”
I expected something from the cooking Holy Grail of information or something. I mean, after all, this guy has done it all. Cooked on a cruise ship, entertained royalty and dignitaries, so I figured that this secret has got to be real good!
So what was his answer, quite simply, “Flexibility!”
What! Flexibility, what does that have to do with entertaining and cooking?
Well this guy was a bit of an eccentric so I thought it’d think about it and get back to him.
Later that night, I got an order from the dining room that was a bit unusual. One of my very “soigné” (that’s kitchen talk for VIP) customers had come in with his young son who really wanted pizza. So knowing that we baked our own bread for dinner service, he asked the head waiter if that would be possible make a pizza. Of course the answer, as is now in our team building business, is always YES, then we figure it out later.
The young man only wanted a simple cheese pizza, nothing fancy, but a pizza none the less. Even though we baked bread and had a bread oven that the pizza could bake directly onto, we didn’t have a pizza peel (flat metal or wood platform with a handle to build the pizza directly onto and slide in and out of the oven). So I used instead a poster cardboard which worked quite well in a pinch.
Bottom line, our soigné customer was so impressed that he left the waiter and the kitchen a generous tip in appreciation for the extra effort and flexibility. Later, while I was sipping the beer that our kitchen tip bought, I thought back to my mentor’s secret to success, flexibility. I got it.
By the way, that wasn’t the end of the story, the very next day, that grateful customer booked his company’s holiday party, with a large deposit because of the extra consideration and flexibility that we showed.
It makes you think, what other success would an organization have if flexibility was adapted as a key value to follow?