Food for Thought: The Parallels Between Chefs, Security and Tech

woman chef on laptop in restaurant kitchen

A career in tech was not my original plan. I am a CIA-trained chef and thought I’d end up in the food business. But after working in the security space, it’s clear there are many similarities.

One commonality among these two disciplines is the importance of a strong work ethic and a need for organization. To make their dish successful and their lives easier, chefs have their mise-en-place.That’s a culinary phrase that describes all of your things, put together, for a successful outcome.

Your knife is sharp, tools collected, your whites (chef coat/hat/pants) are clean, and your ingredients are gathered and prepared. I definitely try to apply that to the way that I operate in the security arena.

Also, if you’re a chef, you have a preparation time in which you’re working on things. You put together your menu. You gather your ingredients. And then you have to execute very quickly.

There’s definitely a correlation between this process for cooking and work in tech and related to security. Some tech companies – like Chef – even have recipes for how to manage infrastructure. And experts in my field must move fast to prevent and contain security events.

Continuous improvement is another thing from which both chefs and security teams benefit.

That’s the message of a documentary called Jiro Dreams of Sushi, which tells the story of Jiro Ono, a Japanese restaurant owner who is considered the world’s greatest living sushi chef.

Essentially, the movie – one of my favorites – is about perfecting your craft. It’s about doing things consistently, getting better and understanding how you can continuously improve.

This message resonates in the security arena as well. Hackers continue to become more sophisticated in their attacks. That means security personnel must continuously get better at preventing and responding to bad actors’ efforts to capture our data, devices and networks.

During the pandemic there’s been an uptick in fraud. I’m referring to phishing emails that try to create some compelling event – such a fraudulent call for help from what appears to be an executive, like a CEO, asking the target to wire money immediately or a communication prompting the targeted individual to click on a link, which opens that person’s devices and data to hackers.

It’s helpful to educate people about this potential so they are vigilant when such events arise. At Collibra, we use a security bulletin in our company newsletter for that purpose. But education alone is not enough to safeguard your business. For example, organizations can leverage machine learning technology along with a next generation of anti-malware and anti-phishing technologies and services to get better at preventing phishing threats by gaining data intelligence.

But there’s a broader tech story of continuous improvement, and that has to do with data intelligence. Whether you’re in the food service, tech or any other industry, businesses succeed and grow when they understand customers, markets, opportunities and threats. They can do all that by understanding both what data they have and what that data means to the business, and then acting on that data intelligence.

There’s a smorgasbord of data out there. Organizations can employ it in various ways to empower people, lower risk, transform processes and enable progress. They just need to have the right partners, processes and technologies to help them discover, get visibility across, generate insights from, modernize workflows around, and secure that data.


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  1. Great read! I love the analogy used here, especially when the author used his personal story here. Love the content on this site!


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