Foodies Unite: My Humble Beginnings

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First, I want to thank you for supporting Fords Fluent N’ Food. It’s really funny — when people used to ask me, “Chef John, how are you?” I would always reply, “Living the dream.” Well, now I am “living the dream,” and I’m happy that our loving supporters have helped me to do so. Thank you!

My parents often say that I took the “scenic route,” meaning I journeyed down many paths before finding my true passion. I have had every role in the restaurant; I have been a busser, dishwasher, server, manager, line cook, Sous Chef, Executive Chef, and now, an entrepreneur. Looking back, I do not miss some of the jobs I had in the past – but they were the first steps to my humble beginnings.


My very first job was at an Italian restaurant where I was a busser. I worked my butt off for my tips, and by the end of the night I would go home and pass out. It was hard work, but it was honest work, and I was proud of my earnings. At my next job, I was a dishwasher at Shoney’s. Boy, did those dishes pile up, and I will never forget the amount of syrup in that restaurant — I had to scrub the heck out of those sticky plates. By the time I left the job, the very sight of syrup was revolting. I then worked as a server and a manager for a couple of years, but I knew I belonged in the kitchen.


Throughout high school and college, I loved to cook for my friends and family. They often told me how great the food was, but I never thought anything of it. Later, my best friend, Jacob, encouraged me to enroll in culinary school. Still unsure, I discussed the subject with my parents, causing them to nearly fall out of their chairs. “Culinary school,” my dad said. “Are you sure you are going to stick this, though?” After some deliberation, they decided to give me a chance to pursue this dream. They secretly knew I had a gift.

After culinary school, I spent many years working in the kitchen as a line cook. Pop’s Trattoria was the restaurant that gave me my lucky break — I finally got promoted to Sous Chef. I worked weekends, holidays, and pretty much every birthday in my 20s, but that was the starting point that allowed me to become an Executive Chef and, eventually, achieve my goal of owning my own business. 


Chefs work hard — shoot, we bust our asses — but a true chef is a passionate individual with an insatiable love for food. Food is fundamental and makes us happy, but food also brings families, friends, and entire communities together.


The bottom line is: being a chef is very hard work, but when you put your heart and soul into something, and you believe great things will come no matter what anyone says, you will prosper. I have had people doubt me and my abilities, but I never gave up. Life is not guaranteed to be easy, but it is how you react to the negative that will shape who you are. 

Always cook from the heart,

Chef John Ford

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