Chef Peter Sproul

Associate Professor - Chef Instructor,

Utah Valley University Culinary Arts Institute, Orem, UT



What role does mentorship play in the culinary world?

The most successful chefs have taken advantage of a mentorship relationship whether they knew it or not - that’s how they’ve become successful chefs! Mentorship plays a huge role in team success, individual development and continued growth overall. Exec Chef to Sous; Sous to CDP; CDP to station chef; etc…. however, whatever works as long as there is a pathway for young individuals to receive information/knowledge/experience, process it through engaged learning and interaction then interpret and retain the useful bits for future development.  That’s mentorship.  Each young individual is different with different dreams, goals and vision; funny thing is those of us experienced enough have something to offer to most all of them.  Mentoring young cooks and future chefs has made me a better chef, a better leader and a better communicator, hands down!

What do you think are some of the most important lessons for aspiring young chefs?

First and foremost, young chefs need to know and understand that we are in the hospitality / guest service industry, and although their creations need to be spectacular and satisfy guests while representing themselves and their ability, they must understand that we work for our guests/customers/members.  Understanding that adds a perspective and grounds young chefs to better comprehend that it goes beyond themselves and their ability.  Secondly, young chefs need to learn that this industry is fluid, ever changing and that they represent our future. Learn, absorb, and grow, but develop it and evolve for the future.  Keep pushing themselves and, in doing so, continue to push us mentors to rethink our own processes.  This has developed great outcomes with Lyn.  She has driven me to rethink my history and re-write it to a new, higher level.  Then she adds her vision and WOW – greatness.  That’s true mentorship, in my opinion.  I think it’s important for young chefs to know that the relationship is a closed loop, the teacher helps the student and the student (most times unknowingly unless told by the teacher) inspires and motivates the teacher to new heights as well.

How have your mentors helped you and inspired you in your own culinary career?

As I get older I realize mentors come in all shapes and sizes, and you can never have too many! Unknowingly, my mother, who was afflicted with MS during my whole life, mentored me to know and understand how to push on in the face of adversity, how to overcome fear and insurmountable obstacles, and to never quit. This serves me well every day in any discipline!  Chef Daniel Lemaire taught me to utilize my resources (namely Sous Chefs) and learn from both positive and not so positive experiences.  Restauranteur Harvey Edwards mentored me on developing my own style while satisfying customers.  GM Martin Hale mentored me on how to be a worldly diplomat and still achieve your goals while building a true team….  I could go on and on…

Each experience/opportunity that you are exposed to from a colleague or co-worker is a learning experience.  Getting young people to recognize and make purpose of those moments is what mentoring is about. Unfortunately  many young cooks don’t realize this until years after they’ve left your team but thankfully they realize it!  Sometimes they even stop by and say, I get it now – Thank you.