By Margo Gabriel
The art of relationship building is crucial in this current climate where so many are suffering job losses amidst the pandemic. This soft skill is what has led chef Rahman “Rock” Harper to an incredibly successful culinary career. The San Diego native grew up in Alexandria, Va. and spent summers watching his grandmother cook delicious southern food such as angel biscuits, yeast rolls and apple butter.
Harper is a nationally recognized chef, community activist, educator, healthy food advocate, restaurateur and author. He’s worn many hats throughout his decorated 25-year culinary career that also includes being the third winner of Gordan Ramsey’s “Hell’s Kitchen” and executive chef for B. Smith’s in D.C. from 1999 until 2007.
In 2016, Harper formed RockSolid Creative Food Group, LLC, which focuses on helping chefs and restaurant communities attain higher levels of success. He’s the host of The Chef Rock Xperiment podcast, and a food industry radio show called Shift Drink.
During this interview, Harper shares gems about cultivating relationships beyond the networking stage we’re typically used to and approaching these liaisons with the intention of creating authentic connections. Even if they don’t pay off right away, be patient as they may in one, five or ten years.
He is candid about the advice he wished he could have told his younger self: slow down, develop discipline, listen more, talk less and ask more questions. With a mission centered around “entertainment, education and empowerment for the food industry,” it is evident that the principles and mantras he lives by definitely motivate the work he’s doing through his business.