Will Guidara’s Here to Help “Find Your Oxygen”
When you step through the door at world-class Eleven Madison Park; The Nomad in New York, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas; or even more casual Made Nice in NYC, you’ll be greeted as if being welcomed into a friend’s home. Then again, you could expect as much from a group of restaurants whose co-owner, Will Guidara, also hosts something called The Welcome Conference.
But this casual warmth is, of course, illusory. Like any of the best restaurateurs, Guidara and his parent company, Make It Nice, has intentionally focussed on genuine warmth as a universal principle. “Restaurants are all about relationships,” he says. “I think great hospitality is about is being present and being able to be so fully focused on the person you're serving that you're picking up on what they're saying, or not saying.”
Here, we chat with Guidara about creativity, finding your oxygen, and, of course, eggs.
By day, you’ll find me… running our restaurants. That includes everything from actually being on the floor, to the graphic design and interior design, to the hiring of our team, to training our people, to overseeing service and wine and cocktail programs.
One of the things I love most about my job... is that every day is different. It's hard to peg down what I actually do on any given day, but it could be anything from a tasting, to a creative or a design meeting, to just being in the restaurant serving food. I like creating and being creative. I think there's few other industries where you get to be creative in so many different ways as in the restaurant business.
To me, creating experiences… is about making little mini worlds. One of the things we say all the time in the restaurants is that we get to create these little magical worlds in the worlds that need more magic.
One of my biggest goals right now is… that I want to make hospitality and pursuing a career in hospitality cool. A great way to advance a craft is if a lot of people get excited about wanting to pursue it. Within our business, it's cool to be a chef. It hasn't been quite as cool to be a server. Unless you make something cool enough where the best and brightest get excited about wanting to give their life to it, there's no way for the craft to evolve.
The most important part of staying motivated is about… making sure you that figure out what fuels you, so that you have the energy you need to fuel others. It's about figuring out what your oxygen is. What is the thing that fulfills you?
I switch off by… playing the drums, ordering Chinese food and watching T.V., and just being silly and playing with my friends. I like all sorts of stuff. Depending on different days, it's a different things. Recently I've been getting into one of those online meditation apps.
On my days off, you’ll find me… maybe going on a long walk with my wife. I love cheeseburgers. So I really like going on road trips and just finding a fun, old-school burger stand. Or sometimes I like sneaking a bottle of wine into a movie theater.
If I could have dinner with anyone in the world… it would probably be my mom. She passed away when I was a kid and I would love to be able to eat with her. One of the things I remember is her bolognese that she used to make, and so as terrible as this sounds, I would ask her to do the cooking.
My relationship with exercise is… love-hate. I hate going but I love how it makes me feel after I go. I like my tennis and I like going to SoulCycle.
My relationship with eggs is… grateful. I'm not good at eating breakfast in the morning. And one of the things that my wife [Christina Tosi, the imitable chef, founder, and owner of Milk Bar] does for me is leave a dozen hard boiled eggs in the fridge. I can love those for breakfast any day.
My PECKISH spirit flavor is…. definitely Everything Bagel.