15 Pieces of Advice Valley Chefs Would Give to Their Younger Selves

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Welcome to Chow Bella's Bites & Dishes, where Valley chefs and restaurateurs respond to a question New Times food critic Laura Hahnefeld has on her mind. Have a question you'd like to ask? E-mail laura.hahnefeld@newtimes.com.

With the New Year now officially underway, it's tough not to reflect on life lessons learned, experiences undergone, trials and tribulations endured, etc., during our brief existence on this planet up until now.

What advice would Valley chefs and restaurateurs give to their younger selves -- and younger human beings in general -- on the secrets to culinary happiness, success, and well-being? Here are 15 of their philosophies.

See also: Food and Drink Trends for 2014 as Predicted by Valley Chefs

Chef Matt Taylor, Market Street Kitchen

Slow down. Being a great cook is a wonderful, noble, and respected profession. Don't be in such a hurry to grow up. Keep learning, travel, and do what you love to do -- cook. There is plenty of time to become a great chef.

Sadhana Raj Chef and Owner, 24 Carrots Natural Café & Urban Juicery

Dear self: Turns out you're not going to be a biochemist. Go to culinary school.

Rick Phillips Owner, Bootleggers

Work hard now -- the real fun comes later, and for that you will need your energy.

Sous Chef Maurice Gordon, The Westin Phoenix Downtown

Be more aggressive with learning new techniques from chefs. I've always been willing to learn new things, but instead of digging for the information, I would let it come to me. I could have learned these things earlier and been able to master the skills better if I had only asked.

Chef Gregory Wiener, Top of the Rock

I would wait to have a serious relationship until I was able to give equally of myself. The restaurant/hotel business can be taxing on any relationship, especially when you're more devoted to your career than the relationship.

Deborah Schneider, Chef and Partner, SOL Mexican Cocina

Follow my instincts and damn the torpedoes!

Chef Rich Hinojosa, The Wigwam

I would tell myself to spend my money on traveling and experiencing different cuisines and techniques of other cultures. It becomes harder to do when you're older, have kids, and have more responsibilities.

Christopher Collins Owner, Grassroots Kitchen & Tap

We restaurateurs are always moving at such a fast pace that it seems we hardly take the time to appreciate all the great things around us. I would tell myself to stop and enjoy the show -- that life is short, and if you don't enjoy all the little things along the way you can miss out on what makes life worth living.

Charles Wiley Chef and Food and Beverage Director, ZuZu

Take the time to learn Spanish and put $20 a month into a retirement account.

Chef Jorge Gomez, The Vig

Write down everything! I have done so many recipes in the past and I always think I'll remember them later. As soon as you have something, put it on paper, in the computer, or even on the phone with a photo, but write it down.

Saul Velasquez Executive Chef, Blanco Tacos + Tequila

Stay humble. Humility is one of the many skills that a good leader/chef needs to have to succeed.

Don Carey Corporate Culinary Chef, TQLA

Step and think outside the comfort zone.

Ryan Peters Executive Chef, Tonto Bar & Grill

Never take any job for granted and learn everything you possibly can from the restaurant where you're employed. Your job title has little to do with how much you want to get out of your job and career. It's about how much you really want to push yourself to be the best at what you do.

Chef Herb Wilson, Sumo Maya (opening in 2014)

Have patience and develop your own culinary voice.

Joey Maggiore Owner and Chef, Cuttlefish Ocean Kitchen

I would tell my younger self to become an attorney.

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