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John Doherty  

Former Executive Chef at The Waldorf Astoria, Cookbook Author and Leadership Speaker

Perhaps it was prophecy when the graduating class of 1978 at the Culinary Institute of America voted John Doherty as student most likely to succeed, because by the time Doherty turned 27, he was named Executive Chef at The Waldorf Astoria.

The year was 1985 and Doherty became the youngest person ever named to the position of Executive Chef in the New York landmark's notable history. Today, more than 23 years after his appointment to the post, the passionate, affable culinary leader holds the distinction of having cooked for more presidents, royalty and heads-of-state than any other chef in the country. While holding the reigns of the Waldorf Astoria's famed kitchen, Doherty elevated the quality of food to a level that positioned the Waldorf as one of New York's dining hot spots. Doherty released the Waldorf Astoria Cookbook in 2006, featuring over 120 recipes that showcase the best in the Waldorf Astoria dining experience.

Beyond cooking technique and creativity, Doherty's admirable leadership abilities were the key to the success of The Waldorf's culinary operations, which garner more than $100 million in annual sales and are responsible for cuisine at some of the country's loftiest galas, events and fundraisers; 24-hour room service; and three distinct, successful restaurants, Peacock Alley, Bull and Bear, and Oscar's. His management approach has also endured as Doherty inspired a culinary team to greatness by giving crystal clear direction, setting measurable expectations and holding people accountable which Doherty says are “essential criteria for a successful team.”

Doherty's Chef's Table has been the focus of the PBS show, "At The Chef's Table" and Doherty has appeared in numerous Travel Channel, A&E and Food Network programs. Other television appearances include The Today Show, CBS, CW11 and numerous appearances on regional affiliates. He is a frequent guest speaker at national culinary and hospitality colleges and industry events. He is an advisory board member to New York's City Harvest, The French Culinary Institute and the Culinary Institute of America. He has been awarded an honorary Doctorate degree from Johnson & Wales, an honorary Masters degree from the Culinary Institute of America and a Leadership award from Niagara University as well as Food Arts Magazine's Silver Spoon Award.


In his one hour seminar, John Doherty will inspire his audience to discover the Leadership qualities within themselves and demonstrates simple and effective ways to improve every aspect of their lives, using the tools he will empowers them with. He will introduce techniques that will inspire those around us to deliver their absolute best every day.

During his presentation, John will elaborate on the following topics:

*Understanding that when we don’t get the desired results we are expecting, it is time for dramatic change and that must include those around us.

*Transitioning from an effective Manager to an Inspired Leader

*Creating an Inspired Team by:

 -Creating a clear vision of what will be

 -Creating a knowledge-based team

 -Creating a culture of change

 -Communicating by listening and setting crystal clear expectations

 -Recognizing and celebrating exceptional work

 -Addressing issues by helping people see, asses and solve the problem

*Achieving success, even in today’s challenging economic climateThis entertaining and powerful presentation will include stories and examples from John’s journey of transforming the Waldorf-Astoria Kitchen into a World Class Culinary Operation.

After being awarded “Student Most Likely to Succeed” upon Graduating the CIA, Doherty headed back to the Waldorf where he performed his Externship at age 19. It was there that he overcame the immense challenges of succeeding as a cook and Chef in an extremely controversial environment and eventually became the Executive Chef at the age of 27.  He tells of being a young cook where he formed his vision, core values and a strong commitment to quality. After being made Executive Chef, he set off on a mission to change behavior, and raise the quality of the food product and in the process but his true success came when he discovered how to inspire greatness to those around hi through his own natural Leadership.

Program options

1. A lively demonstration with practical cooking tips and Waldorf kitchen and presidential stories.

2. Team building exercise where a group is split up to create 2-4 teams where they would create a dish, prepare it for the group and be graded on creativity, team work and taste. The winner takes the prize!

3. A Presidential Dinner is served, comprised of dishes that where served to our country’s Presidents over the last two decades. A course description with Presidential stories is delivered before each course is served.

4. A Waldorf Astoria Cookbook Signing

John's Client List



The Yale Club


Certified Angus Beef

Cornel University

Michigan State University

Penn State University

University of Niagara

Johnson and Wales

Culinary Institute of America

St. Michaels Food Festival, Maryland


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