It’s not often that I come across a well-known chef and meet a celebrity ‘restaurateur’ with a proven track record of success within the food and entertainment industries. Such individuals are hard to come by, due to their demanding lifestyle, schedule, and reputation that prohibit them from reaching out to journalists. Meeting him was one of the most inspiring moments in my journalism career.

I’ve always been fascinated about food, especially because of my Italian heritage and family roots in the heart of Sicily. Without a doubt, the Mediterranean is an epicenter of culinary delights and cooking is an integral part of everyday life and its culture.

For quite some time, I’ve been inquisitive about the new-age term ‘restaurateur,’ and how this profession is represented among popular TV shows like MasterChef, My Kitchen Rules, and Hell’s Kitchen. My curiosity about this word also makes me think of the possible affiliation with the word ‘entrepreneur,’ and the character traits that these successful individuals possess in the world of food, entertainment, and business.

In an attempt to satisfy my curiosity, I did an interview with celebrity restaurateur George Calombaris on InspireTalk.

During my 30-minute discussion with George, I was able to explore how ‘love’ and ‘passion’ for food inspired this Aussie icon to establish his reputation as one of the 40 most influential chefs in the world. Some of his accomplishments include appearing on MasterChef, as well as building his restaurant/food empire with The Press Club, Hellenic Republic, Jimmy Grants, Gazi, etc.

I also looked deep into the insights and experiences of this humble and passionate man and closely explore the journey he has taken as an entrepreneur within the food industry, as well as how he draws his inspiration from his Greek and Cypriot heritage.

The secret formula


Making an appetizing dish requires the correct mix of ingredients, a careful balance of herbs and spices, and a proven recipe. Best known for founding the fast-food chain Kentucky Fried Chicken, Colonel Harland David Sanders was well known for his famous quote “The 11 Secret Herbs and Spices.”

This American businessman leveraged his reputation around this quote and built a global food franchise empire. By the time of Sanders’ death 1980, there were more than 6,000 KFC outlets in 48 countries worldwide, with $2 billion ($5.8 billion today) of sales annually.

Apart from a healthy recipe, I soon discovered that George’s talent, expertise, and cultural background were even more critical factors in preparing a ‘master’ dish, which would appeal to the majority of culinary judges or food critics.

Without a doubt, George has mastered this art that explains his global reputation. So what does it take to master your career, become an industry influencer, or simply build a world ranking brand?

His ultimate recipe for a successful career, hinges around these ten common threads:

1. Never stop dreaming and love what you do
2. Embrace leadership and invite others to support your vision
3. Influence those around you and create your community
4. Nurture your people and empower them to achieve their success
5. Don’t be afraid to stretch yourself and work outside of the comfort zone
6. Work hard with a sense of purpose
7. Believe in yourself and don’t be discouraged by the skeptics
8. Have a point of difference and know your target market
9. Be authentic and have integrity when dealing with people
10. Make a difference in the world and care for others

While many skeptics would argue that ‘luck’ plays a crucial part in achieving ultimate success, I have the simplistic view that ‘mastering’ your career, is really about perseverance and hard work.

As Gordon Ramsay once said, “Put your head down and work hard. Never wait for things to happen. Make them happen for yourself through hard graft and not giving up”.


This article has been exclusively written by Federico Re for Silicon Valley Globe magazine for the March, 2017 online edition.