Chef Olivia Ostrow’s Unique Journey Unveiled in Exclusive Interview

Chef Olivia Ostrow
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Chef Olivia Ostrow started her culinary education at a much younger age than most. By the time she was a teenager, she already knew how to stuff geese and make delicious foie gras, a testament to her early exposure to the culinary world.

Beyond mastering French cuisine, Chef Ostrow had a strong desire to explore the flavors of the world. What better way to do that than to travel? She traveled around the world, and these adventures eventually led her to open her first restaurant, La-Rendez-Vous, in Greensboro, North Carolina, with her father, Daniel Binn.

A true culinary force, Chef Ostrow is now bringing a unique concept to Miami’s Buena Vista neighborhood: kosher French dining. Want to know some of her best-kept secrets for success? Read our exclusive interview!

Culinary arts run in your family; how did you know that it was the right path to follow?

Chef Ostrow: You never truly know, do you? Self-doubt lingers, even now. But here’s the thing: I believe this doubt actually fuels me. It pushes me to constantly strive for more.

Chef Olivia in her restaurant
Image courtesy of Chef Ostrow

What are the essential skills and qualities that aspiring chefs should focus on developing?

Chef Ostrow: Travel! It’s essential. I can’t imagine a great chef who hasn’t explored the world. Immersing yourself in different cultures, experiencing their flavors firsthand – that’s the key to truly innovative dishes.


How do you build and lead a successful kitchen team?

Chef Ostrow: Being a woman in the kitchen certainly has its challenges. Imposing yourself and earning respect can be an ongoing battle.

That’s why I have a few key rules I live by.

Number one: never tolerate disrespect. Don’t be afraid to let go of those who don’t treat you or your team with respect. Number two: value your people. They are the heart of your kitchen. Treat them with fairness and appreciation, and they’ll give you their all. Finally, number three: ditch the boss mentality and embrace leadership. Guide your team, inspire them, and create an environment where everyone can flourish.


What role do mentorship and continuous learning play in a chef's career?

Chef Ostrow: Mentorship and continuous learning are absolutely essential! There’s always room to reach higher. Push yourself, keep acquiring new knowledge and skills. Don’t feel pressured to completely reinvent yourself, but always strive for growth.

Burger by Chef Ostrow
Image courtesy of Chef Ostrow

 


How can aspiring chefs find mentors in the industry?

Chef Ostrow: Don’t be afraid to get your feet wet! Even if it means starting as a dishwasher in your dream restaurant, working alongside that inspiring chef you admire – do whatever it takes. Every role is a learning opportunity.


What inspired you to open your restaurant?

Chef Ostrow: A short answer would be – myself! My own passion has been the driving force behind everything. Throughout my career, it’s the desire to create truly exceptional food that’s inspired me to open restaurants. There comes a moment – a moment of pure confidence – when you know your dishes are so good, people would gladly pay to experience them. That’s the spark, the inspiration that fuels everything I do.


Can you share insights into the business side of running a restaurant?

Chef Ostrow: Front of house (FOH) and back of house (BOH)—they’re a true partnership, like a marriage. My experience as a food and beverage director and general manager in large operations showed me this firsthand.

A chef-owner can only truly succeed with a strong understanding of both sides of the restaurant.

You can craft the most incredible dishes, but if you can’t calculate food costs or ensure a seamless service experience, your dream might remain just that—a dream. It’s the full package that makes a restaurant thrive, not just the food on the plate.


What qualities do you look for when hiring culinary professionals?

Chef Ostrow: Hard work is undeniably the most crucial ingredient. Even if you’ve never stepped foot in a kitchen before, a strong work ethic is essential. This isn’t open-heart surgery; it’s mastering the art of cutting an onion. With dedication and perseverance, anyone can learn to do it perfectly.


How do you handle the pressure and stress that come with working in a fast-paced kitchen environment?

Chef Ostrow: It’s a full-on commitment, just like a football player’s career. You’ll put in the long hours, likely for a good two decades, before you can ease up a bit. But the key is to just dive in and focus on the work, not the clock. Get up every day and chase your passion!


What final piece of advice would you give to young chefs?

Chef Ostrow: It’s all about self-discovery. Finding your true voice and staying true to it—that’s the key to a fulfilling career (or life) in the culinary world.


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Throughout our conversation, Chef Ostrow’s passion for her craft was palpable. From her early travels that broadened her palate to her unwavering belief in the power of teamwork, her insights offered a roadmap for aspiring chefs and a glimpse into the heart of a culinary innovator.

Whether it’s her advice on building a strong kitchen team or her emphasis on continuous learning, Ostrow’s interview serves as a well-seasoned dish full of valuable ingredients for anyone seeking success in the culinary world. Her final message, urging young chefs to find their own voice, leaves a lasting impression. She reminds us that the most successful careers are often fueled by a unique blend of passion and dedication.

About Ostrow Brasserie

Miami’s Buena Vista neighborhood boasts a unique gem: Ostrow Brasserie, the brainchild of Chef Olivia Ostrow. This eatery offers a delectable fusion of French classics and kosher cuisine, a first-of-its-kind concept in the city. Helmed by Chef Ostrow’s three decades of culinary experience, Ostrow Brasserie promises an unforgettable dining experience for those seeking a taste of France with a kosher twist.

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