The Finesse Cuisine Hour

On his podcast, The Finesse Cuisine Hour, Jon Wool interviewed restaurant owners, culinary experts, and successful entrepreneurs. We've collected some of their lessons and advice below.


Click on each name to listen to their full conversations.

[On transitioning from a background in Ireland to working in the USA]

"Any kind of good business acumen can transcend. You certainly have to adapt, but if your foundations and fundamentals are good, you can go anywhere. The hospitality industry is one of the best for travel: you can start off in Europe and end up in South Africa or Asia and then come back to America....You can go anywhere with good fundamentals in hospitality."



- Billy Lawless

Restaurateur and Entrepreneur

The Gage, Chicago, IL

[On time management for restaurant owners]

“As a chef and a restaurateur, you get to a point where you have to decide ‘What’s next?’ or ‘How do I manage my time?’ That has been a challenge but I have an incredible crew that allows me to work on a new project and develop [new initiatives]. But at the end of the day, I think the satisfaction of cooking and creating something that is well-received – that’s still the ultimate for me so that’s something that I just need to incorporate into my time management.”

- Paul Virant

Chef and Owner

Vie, Western Springs, IL

Perennial Virant, Chicago, IL

Vistro, Hinsdale, IL

[On ambition and encouragement]

"I would come home and say 'I want to be an engineer' or 'I want to be a mechanic' or 'I want to be a ballerina' and my mom would never say no.... She never was one of those parents who told me I couldn’t do something and that’s really, really critical. A lot of people get raised and their parents say 'You need to be a doctor or a lawyer or you need to follow a particular path' and there’s so much more to do in life. When you’re really passionate about something, success follows quickly."

- Katrina Markoff

Founder of Vosges Haut-Chocolat

[On writing negative reviews]

"The assumption is that we critics love to write negative reviews because it’s so much fun to be nasty. And it’s certainly easy to do that. But I don’t think it’s that much fun and I never enjoy doing a negative review. For one thing, if I’m doing it, it’s because I’ve been very disappointed by at least two restaurant visits, probably three!"

- Phil Vettel

Chicago Tribune Restaurant Critic

[On preparing for a presentation, sales pitch, or public speaking]

"Most of us are better and safer if we’ve practiced. Take some time and prepare. It doesn’t take long and the more often you’ve prepared, the shorter the preparation time each and every time you do it, even though you’re talking about different things."

- John Vautier

Business Communications Consultant

Vautier Communications

[On how to become successful]

"When I was at Kendall College, guidance counselors used to say to me all the time “I’m going to send you my most creative kids.”  And I would say “Well, they’re going to flunk out in the first six months…Send me your most anal kids” because culinary skills, in the first couple years, are learning how to execute, over and over again, at a high degree of excellence, a very serious number of very practical skills. It’s only years later that you get to exercise creativity. First you have to just be tremendously professional and polished at your craft. This is a message that is central to any kind of business success. You have to understand that excellence – at least doing the best you can do, every time – and professionalism is really what’s going to drive ultimate rewards."

- Howard Tullman

Entrepreneur and Educator

There are many more fascinating interviews:

Tony Fitzpatrick, contemporary artist, playwright, and poet


Dr. Gary Gabel, entrepreneur, founder of Infinite Learning, and author of the hit book Personal Takeover


Peter Burdi, attorney and realtor turned restauranteur of Hinsdale's Il Poggiolo

Tony Abou-Ganim, best selling author of The Modern Mixologist and 2007 champ of television's Iron Chef

Michael Roman, President/Founder of Catersource Magazine, Conference & Tradeshow

Laura Schwartz, media expert, author of hit book Eat, Drink, Succeed! and creator of White House Strategies

Bridget Brennan, marketing expert and best selling author of Why She Buys

Dr. Dan McCole, Professor of Commercial Recreation and Tourism, Michigan State University

Mathew Mandeltort, restaurant researcher extraordinaire of Techonomic

Ellen S. Rogin, financial expert and author of the popular book Great with Money: The Women's Guide to Prosperity

Ron Hawking, celebrated entertainer, vocal stylist, star of mega hit show The Men and Their Music

Chef Michel Bouit, internationally acclaimed creator of gourmet adventures and founder of The World of MBI