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How to make bank in the restaurant business

From the outside, the culinary world seems like a glamorous and artistic profession. The truth is − it is a lot of hard work. Chefs toil long hours in cramped, hot kitchens. Their job is a pressure-cooker of physically demanding labor and constant time constraints.

At culinary school they teach chefs how to fillet and flambé; how to braise, brine and broil. But, who teaches them the art of organizing their payroll, negotiating contracts and marketing their menu? How do chefs learn the business skills they need to keep the open sign lit and actually turn a profit?

Chef Deb Cantrell, executive chef and owner of Savor Culinary Services, has been in the culinary industry for 15 years. She recognized that training gap and began mentoring chefs 10 years ago, teaching them how to effectively “make bank” in the restaurant business.

Her leadership in training culinary professionals has been noticed by the United States Personal Chef Association. They awarded her the title “Chef of the Year” last June. Larry Lynch, president of the United States Personal Chef Association says, “Deb Cantrell’s unique approach to coaching and supporting chefs as they grow their culinary business is vital to their success.”

“Chef Deb” recently wrote a book So You’re a Chef Now What? that quickly became a #1 Bestseller on Amazon. The book is a culinary business blueprint and especially useful in training non-traditional chefs to run their own culinary business. This past year she also launched her Savor Culinary Services website, where she offers a variety of coaching programs to help culinary professionals grow their business.

On March 10 and 11, eleven chefs from around the country will be flying into Fort Worth for a two day culinary business training event which Cantrell holds twice a year.

The chefs in her upper-level Master and Private Chef programs convene in Fort Worth for this two-day training which includes a mastermind group and a full day of workshops where Cantrell and other experts teach them various business techniques such as closing sales, digital marketing and branding.

This two day event is only a small part of their program, but it is a great way to interact and learn from one another face-to-face. A nice dinner is always included as well and this time the chefs will be dining at local restaurant, FW Market + Table where they will be treated to a special tasting menu by Chef Kalen Morgenstern.

The training is jam-packed. The first day begins with each of the eleven chef-participants getting one hour devoted to expressing the precise challenges facing their business. “In the past we have redesigned logos, gotten legal counsel involved in contracting issues, constructed digital project plans, and even made hiring and firing decisions,” says Cantrell, “They will leave with an executable action plan.”

Savor brings in the experts on day two of the training. “Sessions explore everything from branding to digital marketing and product design. We have sales and closing experts on hand to train in that area, and we really focus on how to drill down to their target market,” she says.

“There is a real need for culinary business coaching in our industry. This is a very intensive training. Our Mastermind component includes weekly phone calls, strategy sessions, problem-solving, and most importantly a chance for chefs to collaborate with one another and learn what strategies are actually working,” says Cantrell.

Culinary Business Mechanics Checklist:

Determine your business mission

Determine your business promise

Create Business Name

Determine Business Status.

Register for Fictitious Business Name Statement

Bank Account Set-Up


Resale License

Legal Advisory


Accounting and Tax Services

See if trademark is available for name and tagline

Create Logo Design

Develop your website

Create your program or develop your product

Determine how you will see clients/customers


Virtual Assistant

Create your BVP Long Term and Short Term Strategy

Create your Marketing/ Branding Strategy

Create your Sales Strategy

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