In this FW Confessional, inspiring chefs and entrepreneurs prove that mistakes can often lead to success. Here, Michelle Bernstein shares hers. 


F&W's #FOODWINEWOMEN series spotlights the top women in food and drink in collaboration with Toklas Society. In this FW Confessional, inspiring chefs and entrepreneurs prove that mistakes can often lead to success. Share your craziest mistakes and sharpest lessons using the hashtag on Twitter (@foodandwine), and you could be featured next.

Oh man, I am good at making mistakes! Not the little ones that are easy to sweep under the rug—big ones, the really messy kind that take more apologies, tears and hyperventilating to ever get over how I could monumentally F$%&* up that badly.

I am, however, a fan of mistakes. They make us stronger. Every single time I have slipped up, I have learned more than I ever could have if I didn’t. If someone in my kitchen screws up, it is a direct reflection of my lack of instruction or teaching. Okay, I’ll admit it, I can be a bit compulsive; I know that every time I make a dish, create a menu, discipline a group of people, I can do it better. There is always room for improvement, and only mistakes can show you and everyone around you the things that need to be changed or fixed.

1. Forgot to set my alarm clock…and wake up for my big first national radio interview (I still feel sick over this one). From then on I have always not only set my alarm, but my phone and my husband’s phone.

2. Blamed the wrong person for sending out a piece of raw chicken (it should have been me checking it in the first place). It still haunts me that I threw the chicken and the plate it was sitting on back at him.

3. Double book myself on numerous occasions. (Big stuff: food and wine events, dinners, interviews). I am actually not allowed to ever book myself anything again.

4. Told a reporter a little too much during an interview. Never ever take an interview when you are in a…funky state of mind or melancholy or pissed off. Just don’t talk to anyone during those emotional times.

5. Open a new business when I didn’t feel it in my soul. It was a small restaurant many years ago. I just wasn’t into it, and I did it for all the wrong reasons. Never ever again. I had never done anything for money before that, and I never will again.