F&W's #FOODWINEWOMEN series spotlights top women in food and drink in collaboration with Toklas Society. Follow the hashtag on Twitter (@foodandwine). Here, star chef Susan Feniger shares five tips for being a good boss.
There’s nothing more important to me in this business than connecting with the people who work for us. The thing is, the restaurant biz is all about people. Clearly creative, delicious food is a huge part, but the people coming to our restaurants and the people working with us side by side create the dining experience. I believe if the team in the kitchen and in the front work scared, feeling not respected, not heard—if they get yelled at and treated like they aren’t important and don’t have a voice, then the way they put out the food and the way the guests get treated will reflect this. My motto has always been that I believe people want to do a great job. Of course there are the exceptions to that, but in general, I really do feel this way. So, if I am there for each person, with an open door and open heart, willing to get involved, the customer’s experience will be elevated, and personally I feel fulfilled and satisfied. To me, being in the business has always been about learning and growing—about food, about our environment, about people. No matter whether it’s a dishwasher, a server, a prep cook, a GM, a COO—everyone has a voice with important things to say. If I am able, as an owner, to participate with the team, be a part of their spirit, give and get back from them, it’s incredibly rewarding. To me, life is about sharing in this spirit. The ups and downs, highs and lows, the involvement with the people who work with me, is something very special and makes up my amazing restaurant family. I can’t imagine another job as fulfilling as this one has been the last 35 years. That, I think, is unbelievable to be able to say.