Why I've Learned to Celebrate the Daily Successes

Why I've Learned to Celebrate the Daily Successes

To stay successful is to find balance in your life between your work and your personal time. I am naturally a workaholic — working nearly all the hours that I am awake. That means the metric for success is finding time to set aside work for my family. Specifically, I think of how much time

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Why I'm Working on Time Management Outside the Kitchen

At the start of the calendar year, I am always reflecting on the previous year, but also looking toward the new year to make important changes in how I operate and accomplish my goals. I’ve received a lot of great advice over the years and people have definitely guided me in becoming more skilled and creative — both in the kitchen and in business. 

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This is the Year When Chefs Will Become Front-of-House Educators

There are many challenges that chefs face as a result of a multitude of factors — our industry, the environment, consumer wants and needs, and most importantly, our vision and artistry. Fortunately, chefs are wired to find creative solutions to difficult problems. As I look toward the new year, I am excited by the potential that chefs have to help train and grow our own employment pool and drive sustainable practices as solutions to many of our world's climate and environmental challenges. As restaurants fill their seats with more experienced and savvy diners, the industry is facing a shortage that impacts us all; skilled workers. One of the organizations I spend time working with addresses this directly and will be hugely influential in 2016.  C-CAP, Careers through Culinary Arts Program, provides culinary training for under-served youth and helps students to gain entrance to culinary schools, find scholarships and eventually jobs in the work force. They do so by asking industry leaders what training should be mandatory and then turning this into a teaching strategy. The success rate is high and the personal stories coming out of the program are incredible and inspiring. C-CAP benefits not just the restaurants like my own who are challenged with finding reliable and passionate employees, but it benefits the student, the culture of urban American cities and it chips away at the jobless rate in neighborhoods like my own.

Bringing in young talent also gives me the opportunity to teach and elevate the conversations in the kitchen to a dialogue about food waste and efficiency. When I think about Harlem, I see that there is even more possibility for growth in practices that sustain local markets. I speak with my team on daily basis about embracing our neighbors. Communicating with local vendors and farmers help to sustain people within the community and when we utilize local markets to create specific menu items — it reinforces that message to our guests in the restaurant. It's exciting to see dishes in my restaurants, Red Rooster and Streetbird, that were created specifically for what is available locally and seasonally. I truly believe that chefs can be the voice of these kinds of messages — messages that encourage models that are moving toward more sustainable practices in the food system.

In the next year, chefs will be challenged to think creatively about how to use all parts of the plant or animal and make serious considerations for sourcing responsibly. It is critical that as we learn, we teach others what we have learned, through programs like C-CAP. 2016 will challenge us as chefs, to utilize our platform in order to educate each other and reinforce the important messages of sustainable practices in the restaurant and beyond.

This post was originally published in series of posts by LinkedIn Influencers. In this series, professionals predict the ideas and trends that will shape 2016. Read all of the posts here and be sure to follow Marcus on LinkedIN.

Notes from Linked In: Obesity Rates Expected to Double

This article was first posted on LinkedIn on December 3, 2012.

A friend forwarded me a link to this slide show (it's at the bottom of the page) and it was startling. Created by the Center for Disease Control, it simply shows the changes to the geography of U.S. Obesity from 1985 until 2010. As you sit and watch, this simple set of maps starts from nearly all blue and just gets redder and redder, effectively and dramatically showing the yearly increase of American wastelines. While we've all heard the phrase "Obesity Epidemic" being thrown around, this visual really hit home for me how recently and dramatically this excessive weight gain has happened in our nation.

To put this information in number form: In 1990, according to the CDC, no state surveyed had an obesity rate of more than 15%; by 2009, only two states, Colorado and the District of Columbia (not a state, but still) had obesity rates of less than 20%. Furthermore, according to the Trust for America's Health, by 2030 obesity rates in states like Mississippi could be as much as 67%. 67%! That's 2 out of every 3 people that are not just overweight, but obese. And it's not just American adults being affected. Childhood obesity is up; global obesity rates are skyrocketing (2.3 billion overweight people by 2015); even animals living close to humans are getting heavier. And it's not necessarily the weight that is the issue but rather the chronic diseases associated with this type of lifestyle that are costing billions of dollars and millions of lives.

With all this frightening data, what can we do about it? As a chef, I think an effective individual step is simply taking a few extra minutes each day to think critically about what we are putting in our bodies. "Healthy" food can be both incredibly nourishing and delicious; we just need to take the time to make sure what we eat fits both of these criteria, whether it's through cooking at home or simply choosing a more wholesome item on the menu.

Perhaps this is too simplistic, and of course there are many other factors to consider when battling obesity, (genetics, activity level, socioeconomic issues, etc), but it's amazing how far a little purposeful thought can take you.

What do you think? How can we combat obesity and ensure future generations lead healthier lives?