Accounts of people “lifting themselves up by their bootstraps” have been around for more than a century, since the phrase took on its current meaning. Critics say that hard work is not enough, but true stories of success from unlikely starts abound.
Thierry Marx, French chef of the year in 2006, is one of those stories. He was a poor student from a bad neighborhood. His grades weren’t good enough to get into hotel school, and he dropped out of a school for building trades. “I was furious…,” he told The Figaro, a French newspaper. “I messed around, got into fights. I ran away, I escaped to Paris … Champigny-sur-Marne, the city where I lived, was a ghost town, a wasteland.”