Ambassador Nic Bash is a professional chef and consultant for restaurants and food startups, but if you had asked him a few years ago where he would be today, he might not have told you that. As a business management major in college, Nic spent the first part of his career working in mobile advertising. It wasn’t until he truly tapped into himself and figured out what he was passionate about that he was able to “pivot” into the food industry and go back to school at San Francisco Cooking School. Learn more about how Nic found his grey below:
How did you find your grey?
My path to cooking has been a lot less than linear. I studied business in college and took a tech job right after looking for growth, opportunity, and the chance to learn in a startup environment. Though I got all of those things, I recognized after a few years that it wasn’t anywhere close to my passion. In a somewhat risky move I left my job and dedicated all of my time to figuring out what I was passionate about.
The effort paid off. I was able to think about what I enjoyed doing and where my strengths were. One of those areas was cooking, and by chance I ended up spending a night in a professional kitchen. It was awesome, one of those moments where things just clicked. The energy, the organization, the preparation, the food, the customers—it was everything I love about business in a creative and social environment. I knew that night that this was the industry for me.
What motivates you to grow and do great work?
I come from a family that prioritizes public service, and I think that has resonated with me a lot. I am inspired to help people, and I get really excited about solving problems related to our communities and beyond. Food has been an incredible outlet for this. I also love learning, and find a lot of fun in conquering new challenges.
How do you live in the grey?
Cooking is really universal, so being able to learn, teach, converse, travel, and see the world through my passion allows me live in the grey. Cooking is social and brings people together. It lends itself well to seeing friends and family, and I enjoy having the opportunity to practice generosity. There are also endless avenues for creativity. I really like that cooking offered me a way to bring together the priorities in my life.
How has working in your field helped you live a fulfilled life?
Working with food has opened more doors than I could have imagined, and I think that is key. I make sure to choose opportunities that will continue my personal development as well as offer me an opportunity to do the things I love. I like that idea that if too many days in a row are bad, it is time to change things up.
What is your favorite part of your work?
I love learning and being creative, and food allows me to do both. Creative latitude is really important for me, as I’ve learned in the past when I didn’t have it. I also love the kind of people that the food industry attracts. I have been so impressed by the incredibly talented chefs and restaurateurs I’ve met. If you meet the best in your industry and aspire to be them, it’s a good sign.
How did you become qualified enough to do what you love?
I am always pushing myself to become more qualified, constantly evaluating and looking for ways to grow. I honestly go into most opportunities a little scared (though confident) that I am out of my league. But that approach has worked well so far, and it’s pushed me to grow and rise to the challenge at hand.
What’s one thing you do every morning to get ready for the day?
I review my notes. This is easily the most important thing I do each day. I look over my schedule, review what needs to happen this week versus the weeks ahead and see how I am progressing towards my goals for the year.
What are three things you try to do everyday?
I cook, I find someone new to meet and connect with, and I learn something new in food.
Continuing to learn and grow is a huge part of loving what you do, and I had a chef tell me once “you have to be obsessed.” So learning and practicing are really big for me. Meeting and connecting with others who share my passion is really important too, and I’ve had a lot of great experiences venturing out to meet strangers.
What’s something you wish you had known at the outset of your career?
How to self evaluate for weaknesses. Recognizing your weaknesses, and really taking the time to tackle them is huge. I have to challenge myself to focus and stay on task. I am goal oriented so I design lots of little goals that work toward the larger ones. This keeps me moving forward on target, and notes are a huge part of this.
How have relationships played a role in your career and what advice do you have about building them?
I owe a lot of my success to relationships. I think forging new relationships and constantly reaching out to new people is a great way to grow. Managing friends, confidants, mentors, colleagues, and family is equally as important. I remember thinking that certain groups of people were off limits, say executives or industry leaders. It took me a while to realize that they were exactly the people you want to try and connect with. It’s essential to find people who have succeeded in your passion area and learn from them.
How do you ensure your intentions become actions?
Discipline. I have a million intentions every day, so staying focused on a goal is really important and it requires discipline.
Rewarding and celebrating the small and big successes is another big part. Teams also help with accountability, so there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
What advice do you have for beginners in your industry specifically?
Expose yourself. Work for as many different people and places as you can. Food is a massive industry and there is no limit to how you can express yourself or find your way of making a living. The most successful chefs I know, own their restaurants because they were brave enough to try doing something on their own. For almost none of them was it their first try, and they had all done something else at one time – baking, hospitality, the arts, other careers. I think in each case it gave them a creative advantage or uniqueness. It also gave them the courage to pave their own path.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard?
Samuel Beckett - “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”
Connect with Nic on Instagram here.
The Live Grey Ambassador Program is a collective of grey individuals dedicated to spreading the Live in the Grey message and helping others to blend their personal and professional lives. This series offers some of the wisdom they have to share as they progress on their journey.