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5 Things I Learned from Chef Zov Karamardian

Over the last two years, I was a social media consultant to award-winning restaurateur  and chef Zov Karamardian and her group of restaurants. Zov’s is a veritable Orange County institution with locations in Tustin, Irvine, Newport Coast and most recently, John Wayne Airport.  Almost bi-weekly, I visited with Zov and we chatted about what was going on in the restaurants, general news and most importantly, we tackled whatever questions she had about social media. Chef Zov is quite plugged in to the social media and tech scene. Her questions ranged from “How do you post a tweet?” to “ What kind of content do our followers most like to receive?”

Many people are surprised to find out that Chef Zov herself tweets, posts on Facebook and writes her blogs. But her energy, creativity and zest for life are truly amazing. While I may have taught her and her team a few things about social media, I definitely came away learning a few things myself.

Food Network Stars Chef Anne Burrell, Michael Symon and Chef Zov Karamardian

Here are the Five Things I learned from Zov:

1.When You Do What You Love, It’s More than a Job

Zov found out early on that her passion in life involved food. “I knew that food was going to be my career at the age of 14.  Running restaurants were not in my radar, but everything just evolved,” reveals Zov.

 2. Family Comes First

Zov wouldn’t be Zov without her family and her restaurants wouldn’t be as successful without the support of her husband Gary, and children Armen and Taleene, who all have a part in the business.

According to Zov, “ Family is number one in my life…. Yes, I waited until my son and daughter were of driving age before I started working outside of  the home.  I consciously made a promise to myself, that I would not work unless it was a (matter of) survival.  I did not feel I needed to work for material things, as long as we were able to pay our bills I did not feel I needed to work.  Raising kids is an investment.  You will reap the benefits later in life.  It is a wonderful thing.”

When asked what her secret is to working with family, she replied: “The secret to working with family is that each family member has a certain strength, each have to work with that strengths and we own our strengths and capitalize on it. We do not cross each other’s boundaries.  That is the only way it will work.”

3. Surround Yourself With Positive People

To be sure, the Karamardian clan are a positive and supportive bunch.  At one restaurant event, a photo exhibit by ….., I had the privilege of meeting Zov’s extended family and they were such a great group of people.

It is no wonder that Zov says, “… That is my mantra…..Positive people will always want you to succeed. Successful people will also want you to succeed. Napoleon said “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve”.


4. Don’t Stop Learning

A signature event usually held at Zov’s Bistro in Tustin is the Lunch and Learn series.  Conceived by Zov. it pairs a guest speaker and great prix fixe meal.  The Lunch and Learns are usually inspired by things that Zov is interested in: from alternative health to publishing to social media.

During our coaching sessions, Zov would take written notes in a notebook so that she could refer to them when she needed to. She is an astute student and perhaps the most tech savvy grandma of 4.

“What are your learning right now?” I recently asked her via email and she replied: “I am learning every single day.  I am now learning anything that is electronic.  iPad, iPhone Apps, Social Media, you name it!!! Twitter, Facebook, etc — believe me it is not easy, it takes a lot of time, but I am determined to master all of them.”

5. Take Risks

There are risks to starting, owning and running a business.  It takes a special kind of person to keep at it and succeed.

Says Zov, “The biggest risk that I have ever taken was opening my restaurant.  I have never worked a day in any restaurant in my life, never seen restaurant kitchen.. but I believed in myself.  All the odds were against me, but family, being positive, and working hard always pays off.”




4 thoughts on “5 Things I Learned from Chef Zov Karamardian”

  1. Fantastic insights into an incredible woman! Zov infuses all of those around her positivity, inspiration and delicious food. Her success is clearly no fluke, as evidenced by the content of your blog. Loved the post. Can’t wait until my next visit to Zov’s!!!

  2. Zov is truly an inspiration, to me and anyone who gets to know her – foodie and nonfoodie, young and not-so-young, social media lover or hater. I’m glad to read that we share the same beliefs. I started my blog when I became an empty nester – not quite as big a leap as opening a restaurant, but I’m proud that I did it and want to continue to learn every day, too. Great post!

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