For some there is still a way to obtain success and money for doing what you are interested in even without an education. A prime example is the chef Bobby Fley. His trendy restaurant in Manhattan is called Gato and don’t be surprised to see him at his place cooking that is if you are lucky enough to get a reservation there. He says he doesn’t make his money from his restaurant because he is always too busy spoiling them. On any given night he could whip up a free dish for all to taste at the bar that will include oysters, shrimp, lobster, clams, mussels, you name it, and it will be there.
He feels that it is his job to treat well anyone who specifically came to support his restaurant and see him. Most people only get to see him on TV. He thinks people do not take him as being a legitimate chef because he is on TV. In his restaurant, he gets to prove his worthiness. For most of the past 20 years, Fley has been a constant TV presence on a number of networks. I guess they keep hiring him because he is handsome and is a kind of kitchen gladiator taking control. On his latest TV show called Beat Bobby Flay people line up to be judged if their culinary creation is better than his. Growing up his toughest enemy was himself.
He is now 50 years old but as a child he always loved to cook. He got thrown out of a series of catholic schools and just wasn’t interested in passing any class. He did show up every day to Mimi’s Pizza Place on the upper west side where he got a job as a delivery boy at age 12. He tells people he graduated from UCLA but his UCLA is the University of the Corner of Lexington Avenue. The truth is that he quit high school and his father made him get a job doing grunt kitchen work at another restaurant. Instead of scaring him back to school, all his life he had been in training for a culinary career from the school of “hands on”.
Without a book he was learning to create dishes and always be complimented for his food. What could be better than that? By then he was excited and inspired and went on to cooking school and graduated from New York’s French Culinary Institute in 1984. Seven years later, he had a NYC place of his own at the age of 25 called Mesa Grill that became a huge success and now he has 25 restaurants. He had to go into cooking because he literally did not know how to do anything else. He feared that he would otherwise have a career at crime. For the past 10 years, he has been married to actress Stephanie March. He has a daughter, Sophie from a previous marriage who is now a college freshman.
He is proud that his daughter has surpassed him in the education department. It has not all been good for him. In 2008 a NY Times reviewer gave his Mesa Grill a bad review and took away one of the restaurant’s 2 stars. He bounced back and survived until the rent got too high and he closed it down last year. His Gato Restaurant is thriving and so is his career. He feels luck every day and thanks his father for punishing him to working in restaurants when he cut school. It all paid off for him.