According to his personal website, Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten is not only regarded as one of the best chefs in the world, but he is also a savvy businessman, who runs over 15 three- and four-star restaurants around the world (but has opened approximately thirty in total), including, New York, Bangkok, Bora Bora, Mexico, Singapore, and France (Jean-Georges Vongerichten, n.d.). Vongerichten grew up in a food-oriented home (where mom and grandma cooked every day), but his choice for a career in the culinary world became cemented after celebrating his birthday at a 3-star Michelin-rated restaurant in Auberge de L’ill (Wikipedia, 2014). He was 16 at the time and has been in pursuit of his culinary dream ever since. He went on to study at a program in Auberge de L’ill and continued to work side by side with some of the top chefs in the world, including Paul Nrocuse and Loius Outhier. Between 1980 and 1985 he managed to open 10 restaurants and has since also published four cookbooks. He currently lives in Waccabus, New York with his wife Marja Vongerichten and their young daughter Chloe. Jean-Georges also has two adult children from a previous marriage, one of whom is also a chef.
As mentioned above, not only is Jean-Georges a very talented chef, but he is also a fearless and extremely successful businessman. From unique innovations and brand integrity, to employee retention and balancing home and work, Jean-Georges has been able to build a culinary empire that deserves some attention. This paper will, therefore, provide a brief overview of how and why Jean-Georges has become (and remained) so prosperous for over 25 years.
In a recent interview published on Huffingpost, Jean-Georges describes some of his tactics that have lead to his success. One of the most important aspects to his business approach is his personal involvement in all aspects of the business, including menu development, hiring and training of employees, and architectural design (Florida, 2012). He stated that he personally takes the time to choose the “best partners, employees, and locations.” He further stated that because employee retention is one of the hardest (yet one of the most important) aspects of the restaurant business, he does his best to keep employees motivated and by providing them with continued opportunities for learning. He also said that he likes to “promote from within,” allowing employees to work their way up the latter from within the restaurants. He stated that he likes to hire young and talented chefs because they “have no habits and are moldable.” As far as recipes, Jean-Georges stated that he is constantly inspired, especially when he travels and visits new places. He also takes inspirations from the changes of seasons and cookbooks of his peers. While balancing home and work proves to be difficult, Jean-Georges stated that it is important to do so in order to be successful, and he achieves this by spending his weekends with his family and friends in the country.
Another sure reason for Jean-Georges success is his wide variety of cuisines and innovative takes on traditional foods. Most successful entrepreneurs make sure to diversify their services or products so as not to put all of their “eggs in one basket.” For example, he spent a lot of time working and traveling in Asia (not to mention the fact that his wife is part Asian), which has inspired a number of his restaurants. In 1995 he opened his first Vong restaurant, which showcases his unique take on Thai-French cuisine (“All-Star Weekend”). He has also opened several French restaurants, including Jo Jo and Café Martinique. Jo Jo was a great success because he worked to replace traditional heavy ingredients (such as cream and meat broths) with lighter ingredients, such as vegetable and fruit extracts. He also has a very successful steakhouse in Las Vegas, which features some of the best steaks in the area and an American-spired restaurant in New York City. He has also diversified his restaurants by mixing up the types and styles of his establishments. Jean-Georges has opened bistros, fine dining restaurants, and bar-inspired places, which not only cater to a wide variety of customers, but also make his business more resistant to global changes in gastronomic taste.
- Florida, Rena. “Your Start-Up Life: Jean-Georges’ Ingredients for Success.” Huffingpost. 24 October, 2014. Web. 19 October, 2014.
- MGM Resorts. “Jean-Georges Vongerichten.” All-Star Weekend. N.d. Web. 19 October, 2014.
- Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Jean-Georges. N.d. Web. 19 October, 2014.
- “Jean-Georges Vongerichten.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 13 October, 2014. Web. 19 October, 2014.