On a sunny Friday afternoon in June 2003, Rajat Gupta was greeted at his waterfront home in Westport, Connecticut, by scores of his McKinsey & Co. partners. They had come from London, Frankfurt, New Delhi and other cities around the world -- and brought along an elephant, which they tethered on the front lawn.
I left home at 14 to be a kitchen apprentice and spent most of my early career in some of France's best restaurants. If you wanted to be a respected chef, that was the best training you could have. By the 1970s, when I was at Ma Maison [a French bistro in Los Angeles], I decided to open my own restaurant. The easy choice would have been to open a French restaurant, but I decided on a pizzeria called Spago. I thought you could have fun with the ingredients and create delicious simple food, but newspapers ridiculed me, saying you couldn't create a gourmet experience around pizza. The editor-in-chief of Bon Appétit even took me to dinner to try to convince me not to open it. I had my own ideas, and it became a huge success.