Edit ModuleShow Tags

"I don’t believe that anything is a given right. It must be earned."

Deborah Scott is the executive chef and partner in the Cohn Restaurant Group. She recently opened her ninth restaurant, Coasterra Modern Mexican on Harbor Island. She’s a devoted dog mom.


You’ve made it. Your kind of success is something people strive for. How do you react to those who ask for help, mentorship, and advice?

I always try to put myself in the shoes of others. In my early years, I was rough around the edges and didn’t always think of the feelings of others. These days I like the gentle-but-firm approach. This quote by Maya Angelou is a message that I follow in my daily life: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Is identifying and appreciating your support group (or, Sheryl Sandberg says, choosing your mate) a big part of becoming successful?

Personal relationships are only as good as what you put into them. Don’t expect devotion if you are not able to give in return. My life partner, Sharon Bristol, is my sounding board... I run everything by her. She always brings me back in line, as I have a tendency to “drift” without sound advice and direction! The fact that she will always be there for me means everything. And my mom. Her strength, love, and devotion have been my anchor. At 90, she continues to be the one I love to make proud!

How do you feel about the idea that for women, success and likeability are inversely correlated, whereas the opposite is true for men?

This will not be the most popular answer but it’s an honest one. We make our own way in life. I don’t believe anyone is less likely to be successful than another. Granted, there are obstacles for everyone, but be the best you can, and good will follow. I don’t believe that anything is a given right. It must
be earned.

Do you think women need to make their own rules? I think you first have to define what success is. Is it money, influence, power?

For me, it is being happy and fulfilled. I find it easier to pave my own way instead of emulating the path of others.

What do young professionals need to know about failure, other than it is inevitable?

We learn our best lessons in our failures. I have had my share. I was working at the Monterey Plaza Hotel. We put out a banquet for 500, and I was in charge of BBQ chicken. Seems like a simple task. I steamed the chicken until I felt it was done. Well, it was still raw in the middle. Pretty much ruined the event. Relaying these stories to my team is the best way to mentor.

Photography by Flavio Scorsato
Styling by Cecelia Church
Hair & Makeup by Kristi Colby

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

Q&A: ‘A Way with Words’ Goes on Tour

Our copy chief gets a word in with the hosts of San Diego radio show A Way with Words

Celebrating Women: Meet La Jolla Playhouse's First Female Managing Director

Debby Buchholz broke a glass ceiling—but her daughters don’t think anything of it, and she loves it

Letter from the Editor: Cross the Starting Line

Editor in Chief Erin Meanley Glenny dishes on the January issue of San Diego Magazine
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. San Diego Magazine's Travel Awards 2019
    Cast your vote now for your favorite hotels, travel companies, and attractions
  2. Best Restaurants in San Diego: 2018
    San Diego's top restaurant owners, chefs, and bartenders name their favorite San Diego restaurants of 2018.
  3. Winter is Waiting in Montana’s Yellowstone Country
    Win a trip for two that includes roundtrip airfare from Long Beach and a stay at the Element by Westin in Bozeman, Montana
  4. Behind the Brands 2019
  5. First Look: Realm of 52 Remedies
    Wildly imaginative speakeasy cements the arrival of design to San Diego’s Asian food haven
  6. Incoming: The Hold Fast
    One of the country’s top sustainable sushi chefs is opening a handroll bar serving 100-percent local seafood
Edit ModuleShow Tags


Not Your Grandma's Orthotics

New year, new – shoe? Staying on your feet for long hours at a time just got a whole lot more comfortable with Wiivv’s BASE custom insoles

October is Rideshare Month

Join the Rideshare 2015 Challenge and get there together
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags


9 Questions Answered about Botox

Avalon Laser demystifies Botox myths and explains procedures

Win Tickets to the 41st Annual SDCCU Holiday Bowl

This year’s Utah vs. Northwestern match-up marks the Holiday Bowl’s second straight paring of teams that are ranked nationally in the top 25
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags