Chefs Without Restaurants

Advocating for a Better Foodservice Environment - Ray Delucci of Line Cook Thoughts

October 19, 2021 Chris Spear Season 2 Episode 114
Chefs Without Restaurants
Advocating for a Better Foodservice Environment - Ray Delucci of Line Cook Thoughts
Show Notes Transcript

This week my guest is Ray Delucci. He’s the founder of Line Cook Thoughts, a platform that shares the stories of food service workers. This is done through his website, social media, and podcast of the same name. Ray is an advocate for a better foodservice industry in regards to lifestyle and work environment, and believes that these workers’ stories should be heard.

Ray is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, and has been working in kitchens since he was a teenager. He recently left his restaurant job, and moved to Maryland to take a job in food manufacturing and R&D. We talk about that decision, and the current state of the restaurant industry. Our conversation touches on topics such as the labor shortage, leadership in the kitchen, work/life balance and why cooks are leaving the food industry. Ray talks about his podcast, and writing for Plate Magazine. At the time of our discussion, Ray was quarantining at home due to a breakthrough case of Covid. That lead us to talk about how Covid has affected the food industry, and we speculate about the what the near future might look like.

 Also, I was a guest on the Line Cook Thoughts podcast, and that episode can be heard here.

Looking to hire employees for your restaurant? This week's sponsor is Savory Jobs, a job site only for restaurants. For just $50, get unlimited job postings for an entire year. Use discount code SAVORY10 to save 10%.
 
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Ray Delucci and Line Cook Thoughts

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“How Hospitality Workers Identify and Manage Stress” - Plate

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Welcome to the Chefs Without Restaurants podcast. I'm your host Chris Spear. On the show. I have conversations with culinary entrepreneurs and people in the food and beverage industry who took a different route. There caterers research chefs, personal chefs, cookbook authors, food truckers, farmers, cottage bakers, and all sorts of culinary renegades. I myself fall into the personal chef category as I started my own personal chef business perfect little bites 11 years ago. And while I started working in kitchens in the early 90s, I've literally never worked in a restaurant. This week. My guest is Ray Delucci. He's the founder of Line Cook Thoughts, a platform that shares the stories of food service workers. This is done through his website, Instagram, Twitter, and podcast have the same name. raise an advocate for a better food service industry in regards to lifestyle and work environment and believes these workers stories should be heard. Ray is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and he's been working in kitchens since he was a teenager. He recently left his restaurant job and moved to Maryland to take a job in food manufacturing and r&d. We talk about that decision and the current state of the restaurant industry. Our conversation touches on topics such as the labor shortage, leadership in the kitchen, work life balance, and why cooks are leaving the food industry. Ray also talks about his podcast and writing for plate magazine. At the time of our discussion, Ray was quarantining at home due to a breakthrough case of COVID. That led us to talk about how COVID has affected the food industry. And we speculate about what the near future might look like. And I asked Ray if he had the choice to go to culinary school all over again, would he still make that same decision to go? I edited that part out of the conversation and plan to release it as a mini episode in the near future. It's a complex question that I get asked all the time and wanted to make it kind of standalone episode. Also, I was a guest on the line cook thoughts podcast A while ago, and I've linked that episode in the show notes. I hope you enjoy this conversation. I love talking to Ray, we've had a lot of great conversations over the past couple of years. Go check out his social media pages and definitely check out his podcast. And we'd love it. If you supported the Chefs Without Restaurants, podcast and community. There are a few ways to help. First, if you have a business or product, we're always looking for sponsors. You can also support our existing sponsors like savory jobs. If you shop on Amazon, we have our own affiliate link, or be like cool kids Matt Collins and Justin Khanna and consider joining our Patreon. If nothing else, it would be great if you subscribe to the show, rated it and reviewed it and maybe share your favorite episodes on social media. The links to all these things are in the show notes as usual. The support means everything to me. And now here's a word from this week's sponsor savory jobs. Did you know restaurants turnover employees four times faster than most businesses? What if somebody created an affordable and effective hiring solution for the restaurant industry? What if there were a job site that only focused on people looking for food service jobs? What if that site only cost $50 a year to advertise for every job your restaurant needed? Forget the big corporate sites like indeed and monster, our sponsor savory jobs has a job site exclusively for restaurants. The best part is savory jobs only charges $50 for an entire year, and you can post all the jobs you want. And for our loyal listeners use the code savory10 and get 10% off. So go to savoryjobs.com and discover the job site shaking up the industry. And remember to use savory 10 for 10% off. And now on with the show. Thanks so much and have a great week. Hey Ray, how's it going? Thanks so much for coming on the show.

Ray Delucci:

Doing great and yeah, thanks for having me.

Chris Spear:

Glad to have another conversation with you. We've talked to a number of times now but this is the first time you actually will have been a guest on my show. It is I'm excited. Yeah, we did a show. I can maybe edit it at some point. I don't even know how it holds up. We did. Talk what back in December or something, but audio issues didn't really come out in our favor. I think it's hard when you try and do a roundtable and we had like four people on the call and there was a lot of noise and stuff. Maybe one of these days when I'm really good at editing, I'll get it cleaned up and we can release it. We can talk about the year of what 2021 was supposed to be in food, right? We were probably very optimistic that like, Oh, COVID will be over and it's gonna be a normal year.

Ray Delucci:

Yeah, I think I was in that boat.

Chris Spear:

I think we all were. Well, I usually start the show by getting a little bit of your backstory. I don't want to spend too much time on it. But I do want to hear about how you got into food and cooking. You know, did you grow up? wanting to be a chef? I know you went to culinary school. Can you give our audience a little bit of background about you? And how you got into the food industry?

Ray Delucci:

Yeah. So as you said, my name is Ray. I'm 24 years old from Buffalo, New York. I know I didn't really grow up wanting to be a chef. I really didn't know what I wanted to be growing up. To be honest. When I was a kid, I really liked music a lot. And then like a little bit later on, I was like, okay, maybe I'll like my cousin did engineering. So I was like, oh, maybe I'll go into engineering, but then I hated math. I honestly had no idea what I wanted to do. And I'd always love food. I love eating as a kid I was open to trying new things. My grandfather was a chef in the Navy and my mom always like clothes my dad cook, you know, like your traditional American meals. It was always like joke because you know, I love my grandparents. But my grandma who's like Italian never made fresh pasta. So I'm like, I never got my Italian grandma to make the fresh pasta, but she makes other good stuff. But yeah, junior year of high school, my mom was like, you know, you need a vocational course because I had no idea. Like, I don't know what I want to do. And she said, Why don't you go check out some classes. And so I went, and I checked out talking and I was like, Yeah, I mean, I really enjoyed it. And at the time, I was working at Wendy's as a fry cook. So um, yeah, kind of just found the place to where I started going into food. And then once I realized like, Oh, I like cooking, I got a, you know, I got a restaurant job. And I went to the CIA, and basically how I got into it.

Chris Spear:

And you're still really young. I mean, I say that, when you say how old you are, it's like, wow, you know, I think you come with a lot of knowledge. If people don't know you, or even know how old you are. It seems like you have years of wisdom. I feel like I feel like I was still a baby when I was your age when I think about like where I was at that point. So most of our people who listen if they know who you are know you from line cook thoughts. So what is line cook thoughts? And where did that come from?

Unknown:

Yeah, I cook thoughts is a brand that has definitely evolved since I first started it. It's basically just this media brand, and podcast and blog that is focused on talking to industry, people sharing their stories, you know, a lot of people in the back of house, Front of House even, they don't really get to share their stories a lot. So talking about that. But really, that's what the brand started when the brand started, I wasn't wanting to cook I was cooking in Buffalo, but since then I've gone into like management and other areas. But the mission has always been to just keep highlighting people in the restaurant industry food industry, and to keep promoting a positive and just more like advocating for like a better industry as a whole. Because, you know, I always kind of felt like I never really fit into restaurant industry in a sense where like, I'm not like, I was never really that aggressive. But yeah, I have my moments but like, you know, I I soon realize and learn to Connery school, like elsewhere that you can't just, like be rude to people in the kitchen. And, you know, I'm not someone who goes out a lot. And like parties, I'm very much like a homebody, stay at home, work read, do whatever. So, you know, for me, though, I would like see mentors, or I would see, just like colleagues or people in the industry struggling to, you know, just be happy in life and like have, you know, life balance. And so just trying to advocate for an industry that maybe offers up a little more, I guess, fairness to those who work in the kitchens.

Chris Spear:

And I think it's kind of surprising the difference between maybe the environment of professional culinary school to when you get into a restaurant, you know, like I went to culinary school, it was regimented. Everyone there wanted to learn to cook, I felt like there was a level of respect in the kitchen and classes. And then you got into the world and you're working with a lot of people who are maybe rough around the edges maybe aren't looking to be in it for life or learn it's just a job. And it was kind of a shock to me that I was filled, that the kitchens that we're working in, were filled with people who really didn't want to be there and the environment was not something I loved.

Unknown:

Yeah. I mean, I've, I've been in those kitchens. But I've actually been very lucky to have a lot of kitchens where people were very just like, you know, even if it was just a job, they were like, they knew that the job meant something and so I felt very lucky to just have a lot of cooks and people on my team to, you know, rely on and also you know, just give them common respect and that's a big thing with like kitchens is like you have to give respect and you have to be a human and you know, I was in a management position before COVID for about a year and a half and yeah, I mean like the biggest thing like was just like having empathy for people and yeah, like so you know, it's hard to be empathy. It's it can be difficult to be an empathetic leader can be difficult to be leader who's not like ruling with an iron fist I think you get I think sometimes you can get faster short term results if you're aggressive if you're rude if you're like not, you know being great to your employees do you see that all the time with people you know who get a lot of success and then burn out very quickly because it turns out they're the foundation they built their kitchens on are good, but to actually have those relationships and take the time to build them like it's important especially with those people that it is just a job like you can't expect everyone in a kitchen to be there and be like oh my god, this is my passion that's my dream because the restaurant industry has a lot of positions where it's just a job for someone to make money to do something else or to support their family and it's like it you can't expect everyone to have that same goal in mind as you

Chris Spear:

and I don't know that there's enough focus on leadership and even management in kitchens. You know, a lot of times it's you're the sous chef or the lead line cook and they move you up into a managerial position but what kind of training Did you get especially as you get into single unit places you know, I worked in corporate food service there was a lot of training stuff but I think in a lot of restaurants people become like a de facto manager without even having trained for that like what was your experience with that were you trained on how to be a good leader are where did those leadership skills come from?

Unknown:

Yeah, I mean I won't say the exact name of that place but I was in just to give man I actually started out as a manager and training position to where I was I learned like literally like went through every station in the restaurant including dishwashing but there was a literally a week where I just did dishwashing learn every station built a reputation with my team and yeah i mean i was able you know I like the global is like you know, be able to do anything at any time and obviously like the cooks that have been there years can do better than me I'm not like I wasn't like I wasn't confused as like oh I could definitely have in line and like do this better than you like there's no way but this did give me the foundation to then be able to like you I was managing orders I was writing schedules I was basically running a kitchen and this training program lasted like you know half a year and then I was just got very I got a really good opportunity about Brian you're like month seven to actually go from just as a sous chef to managing my own kitchen so yeah, I mean I felt very prepared obviously but then there's like a lot of stuff you're not prepared for and you know those first that first like few months I was doing and it was like I was in the kitchen way longer than maybe I should have been and more days than I should have been and it's like yeah it would definitely was like you still have to put in that work and that time but um you know, I was very it was a very good program to learn.

Chris Spear:

I still think that's a rarity. I mean you see it more with companies you know, I worked for IKEA and it was the same thing like when I was brought in I had to work in the dish room but I don't know that if you just worked at a single unit restaurant in most cities that they have a training program like that, at least not that I've seen

Unknown:

Yeah, this wasn't sequel You know, it was more like a larger group but um, I mean, yeah, you know, I you starting to see that there was like, some single unit restaurants having kind of a manager and training position, I think it's good. can definitely be hard especially like right now it's easier said than done. But um, I think it really does help get your like management team, that experience that they need and sets them up for success.

Chris Spear:

We are definitely like on the ground talking to the line cooks the people who are in the trenches every day. What are you hearing? Are there common themes, common concerns, like what's going on out there? In the restaurants?

Unknown:

Yeah, I mean, you know, I think it's like why I like my thoughts is I talked about you said the cooks I don't really I talked to chefs but it's more so like just people and a lot of times people reaching out whenever there's like you know, it's like that like if someone leaves a review they're probably like really like pissed off. The same thing goes for like when people reach out to me sometimes they're really just like pissed off their situation. But you know, for me, like the biggest thing is just talking to people that right now are just like burnt out, overworked, you know, due to labor shortages, like, it's not like these people at work are like getting time, you know, like, their workload is just increased. And I think it's like important to recognize that as well. And so like just hearing from a lot of people like, they're tired, they're burnt out, they don't want to do it anymore, or that they just feel like they're being treated unfairly or they're just trying to break into different sectors of the industry. And so that's kind of what I'm hearing a lot right now. Of course, there's a lot of people that like still love cooking. I mean, it's an industry. I mean, I still love cooking. It's an industry to be passionate for but I've noticed over the last year, a tremendous amount of cooks wanting to leave I mean, I just I just interviewed someone yesterday. They literally just quit yesterday, and they're like yeah, like I just I can't do it anymore. Like my mental health and my mental well being are just not there. So that's what I've been hearing is just a very, a lot of struggle. So

Chris Spear:

and that's so disappointing. I mean, it's such an early age to be like, burned out and leaving the industry because we're not talking about that, you know, when you look at people and other careers, they have 30 4050 years in an industry and you know, you're like 24 and you've already essentially left like restaurant restaurants, you know, and seeing kind of people starting as teenagers and by the time they're in their early 20s, like they're already over it, like we're just kind of turning and burning. And it's sad to see because I don't think that's a good thing for the restaurant industry. Unless this is the big shift we need, like, when are we all going to say, as a whole enough is enough? And we need to revamp this whole thing? And can we even do that?

Unknown:

Yeah, I think a big thing for me, was my personal decision was, you know, when I was managing restaurants, or when I was working in restaurants, you know, there was a lot of stress involved in that, like I said, you know, being young being, you know, managing it, you there's a lot of stuff you have to learn. But I remember like thinking like, it just like looking up to like people in the same realm, like people I looked up to. And they're all like mentors who are chefs, or they're all people who are managing in that in these in the restaurant group, or just, you know, managing elsewhere and the restaurant industry, and I looked up and I was like, Oh my god, like everyone, everyone that I look up to, is feeling the way I feel like they're still like, going into work 6070 hours a week. For me, like, you know, you, as I've told you before, like one of my passions is writing one of my passions is food media. And that's not like what I want for the rest of my life. You know, I don't want to be at a kitchen 70 hours a week, like, there's other things I want to do. And so while that gym, I love that job, and like, it was like, very, like good for me. I was like, you know, like, I can't, like when the pandemic hit, I was like, I had to make a choice. I couldn't just keep going along with it. And it was a very difficult decision, a part of that decision was like, at the time I was seeing someone and so like, I was moved out of the city we were living and I was like, well, I feel like I should go back with them. And like, it just I put my wife first for like, the first time since starting restaurants. And like, it was definitely like, difficult. But yeah, I mean, with restaurants, it's just, there was never there has not been an answer to people. When it's like, well, when does it enter? When does it get better? Never. It seems like it never does. For most, it seems like this grind your entire career. And like, yeah, you have to work hard. I don't want that to be sounding like I don't want to work hard. But there's a difference between working hard and then just like not having a life at all, like your entire life. And I think a lot of people feel like that right now. Like, other professions, like you said, most people grind in their 20s and their 30s. And then like, yeah, I mean, yes, they're still working hard, but they have some sort of life, a lot of people in the restaurant industry will grind into like their 50s. And they're still like, barely able to make rent. It's like, yeah, people aren't really looking for that. Yeah. I remember like, when I was at a job, I was trying to go to for my grandmother's birthday. And it was like, you know, something like, it was like, well, there's like an important thing going on. So I literally have like a like a day and a half to fly to, to Buffalo and like, there was a storm. So I slept in like the DC airport, actually. And then like this was like, a couple years ago, but I remember just like I have literally had like this like 20 hour window to where I can see my grandmother for 80th birthday and then get back to the restaurant. I was just like, this is ridiculous. Like I like I put in all this time as I can, I can take two days off to go see my grandmother and you know, I mean like there's stuff like that, like, really bothered me like in restaurants. It's like, I know I'm not gonna be there for every birthday. I'm not going to be there but like for everything but there's like something you got to get to give people something, you know, like they can't just be like all or nothing, you know.

Chris Spear:

Now what's the reception been from chefs to Lyon cook thoughts? Are you hearing from chefs who kind of push back that, you know, this is the way it is, or it's just a bunch of whining because I'm sure that there's still the old guard of people who do not feel the same way as you.

Unknown:

I mean, it's mixed. You know, you get like, you get those people that are like, you know, well the week are like being filtered out of the industry, only the strong will survive. And I think that's like a really weird sentiment because it's like, you know, what I always thought was like crazy about restaurants is that not restaurants, it like, you know, just like when I was in food, it's like, we're taught to love the struggle of cooking, we're taught to love the struggle of living as a cook as a chef. And it's like we don't like we can love cooking but we can also be like hey, this kind of sucks sometimes, you know? So you get people that are like that that are just totally like you know what, this is what it is even though they're probably unhappy even though maybe they you know if they're happy, whatever but it's just like this weird like judgmental thing that if you want like a life outside of cooking, then you're somehow weak, which is like, really strange to me. So you get that you get you do get some chefs that are like, you know, but you said like this is how it's always been like easier said and like I don't own a business. I don't own a restaurant. So like this is just my perspective as someone you know, who's now outside of restaurants who's worked in them, but who talks to people daily. So I can only say like, you know, I only base when I go off of like, my own experience and like what other people tell me, but I've actually had some operators that like reach out and are like, hey, why do you think folks are leaving, like, give me the reasons and like, they're very receptive, so it's been mixed. I would say it's more receptive than unreceptive. Especially right now because everyone's looking for an answer to shortage of labor. So, I would say right now, people are in a position where they kind of need to Lesson.

Chris Spear:

So what's your advice for operators who need to get people in the door? Staff wise? Do you have any really great advice for them?

Unknown:

I mean, it's like I said, it's tough, especially when you don't own a restaurant, and you're giving advice to people who do run a business. So like I said, only speaking from like, what, like, what cooks are looking for, like, a better schedule, better work life balance, and like, yeah, we they understand, like, they're not saying they don't want to come to work and not work. But when they leave work, they shouldn't leave, they should be able to leave work at work. So like, you know, better work life balance benefits, you know, all the stuff that we've talked about for years better pay, health insurance, you know, like, just like the, I was, like the basics of what you would expect out of any other job, really. But I also think it's just like this idea. You know, we're talking about unemployment ending and how I've heard the sentiment unemployment ending. So we're going to hear see a lot of people go back to kitchen. And I don't think it's going to be like that I like, I think where people get confused is that a lot of people in the restaurant industry have gone to other sectors of food or have left entirely, I don't think there's going to be this mass return. I feel like there's a lot more people that have left restaurants that have actually like gone in like that are on unemployment right now. And I think a lot of people have gone elsewhere, I've seen all my colleagues pivot elsewhere, to be able to just like pay the rent, and make money. And so I don't like see this like giant wave of people coming back in. So I think that's like, the other thing is just understanding that your labor pool right now is very limited. And if you know it, when possible, offer those benefits. And those just, you know, at least an attractive job offer. And like, I don't know, like, I wouldn't be setting up stages right now. Like if I was a if I was a cooking industry right now, there's no way I'd be going to start without being paid. There's no way it was like, you know, and I don't like stopping to begin with, I've done it. But there's no way I would be starting right now. There's so many jobs out there willing to pay you. And that's that's the biggest thing is like this before COVID, we operated on a system that was like, people will go in and start people going to work. And it's like a privilege to go start and work for free. It's a privilege to go learn under these great chefs. That's but that's not the case anymore. Because at the end of the day, people need money. And like, as passionate as you are, if you can't pay your rent, if you can't, you know, buy food at the end of the day, then passion doesn't mean anything. So that's like, the biggest thing is like, we have to get off of this like idea that, Oh, well, people are just going to work because they're passionate about cooking. Like, that's cool. But also people are passionate about like, being healthy and having a good life. So yeah, I think that's like the biggest thing is don't don't like stop relying on this, like passion thing that I hear sometimes it's, it's not we're not pretty COVID anymore. I don't think that's how the industry is gonna operate anymore.

Chris Spear:

Well, and it's not just about pay, right? Because what I see now is all these places are so desperate now they're finally like, Oh, well, you know, what's $12 an hour, but now it's maybe 15 or 17. I'm seeing these ridiculous things like $20 an hour for dishwashers, and I still can't find people and I don't think it's the pay as much as it was like a terrible environment and fix that problem. I mean, not respecting people and not paying them what they're worth is a respect issue or whatever. I mean, there's financials, obviously, but like I left a really good job, ultimately, because of the environment. Like I was there for 10 years, I was getting paid really well and had really great benefits. But at the end of the day, I was miserable. And I took a big cut. Like when I started my own business, I wasn't making what I was making there. But it was like, just a better environment for me mentally and physically and just not going through the stress and drama. And I don't think people understood that even my friends are like, why are you quitting this job, it's like, cuz that it's horrible. Like, I'm just done with working in the industry.

Unknown:

That's how I mean, that's how it was for me once COVID hit, I mean, I was in a job that I was getting paid, you know, very well, and I was, you know, like, career wise, doing long, from that place doing well. But the workload was intense, especially once COVID it was like a double and I was like going to a new city. And I was just like, you know, I remember like, thinking, that whole job, like I would do anything for that job. And so COVID hit and and I like kind of just was like, wait, like, I do have an option here to not do this. And yeah, it's gonna be like, difficult financially. But it's also going to be like me, taking taking myself and putting myself first in a crisis right now. So I feel the same way. It's so yeah, I took that cut. But I mean, now like, I'm able to, like, have time off days, I have like three, I have three days off on my week. And like, I'm able to create content, and I'm able to, like still do something. I love my job now and I'm very passionate about it. And I'm learning a whole new skill set. It's like it's really cool. So So what are you doing for work right now? Yeah, so I'm, I work as like an r&d chef, kind of. So it's like food manufacturing r&d mix. So basically just like making sure I'm kind of like person that takes an r&d concept to scale in a food manufacturing setting. So that's kind of what I do. So as well, a lot of r&d is a lot of like, food manufacturing. It's kind of like working with my team. Some data so yeah, I mean, it's a whole mix of things, but it's definitely like something that I'm really interested in.

Chris Spear:

Is that something you actively went looking for? Like, how did you find this job?

Unknown:

Yeah, I never, I definitely wanted to get into r&d. I think, for me, it's very interesting. I'm very interested in consumer goods, I'm very interested in like, feeding a lot of people, if that makes sense, I'm very interested in the business of food, I would say, and so I really wanted to at least go into something that was a little different than restaurants, I didn't really know where, you know, for like, six months, during a pandemic, I was a manager for instacart. Because I had, I wasn't on unemployment, I needed to get a job. And I was like, well, this opportunity is here, I might as well learn what it's all about. And that was even that was cool. But um, I really wanted to get into something that was more so like back to cooking, like, you know, I can still cook, I can still be with food, in a sense, but also, I can still have this like, opportunity to learn a whole new skill set about like, you know, food business, and you know, how it all operates, and, you know, direct to consumer goods. And so that's kind of what I was looking for just like a new challenge. Maybe now, I didn't know exactly what the role is gonna look look like, but definitely want to get into an r&d setting. Because eventually, that's what I'd like to do. And there's a lot of opportunity, you know, here, we'll take that skill set anywhere. I'd love to, like, go live in different places. I'd love to work on different concepts. And so yeah, that's kind of what I was looking for last year.

Chris Spear:

Well, and we kind of jumped over it. Line cook thoughts. We talked about being a community you're you also have a podcast, how many podcast episodes do you have now?

Unknown:

Do you know offhand? Today will be 141. Wow. So

Chris Spear:

you've been doing that? So you've built this whole community around lion cook thoughts? You also talked about content and writing. So I know you've written for plate magazine a bunch? What are you kind of doing in the writing, podcasting and content space?

Unknown:

Yeah, so I guess starting with writing, um, you know, I've always loved writing even as a kid, I think I think though, there's really one thing I've always wanted to do in my life. That was right. So I love writing, I write for plate magazine. I've been writing for them for about a year, and just like backhaus issues. I just reshare it on my Instagram actually. article I wrote that was basically saying, like, just to give you an idea, this article was leaving restaurants doesn't make you a sellout. Is it topics like that deal with like back house issues, or maybe what people are thinking, you know, also just like working on a book right now, I know, I emailed you recently, basically, what my idea for this book is, is to take my idea of local thoughts, this idea of sharing stories daily, and just make a book like, you know, going over different topics, having chapters about certain topics, and having cooks and people in the industry, like, comment on them. And so that's the idea for the book. And then podcast wise, I mean, the podcasts been going for almost three years. And I'm just, you know, it, interviewing industry people, and just having a really interesting conversations. There's no criteria for who can be on it's literally like, sometimes I'll have just like Coke starting out. Sometimes I'll have like, you know, people very like well off in their career. And basically what the podcast is just really just a gateway for me to talk to people in the food industry and get to know more about them. Do you anticipate keeping that going for a while? Yeah, I mean, definitely. I have stuff lined up, obviously, for the next few months. But yeah, I don't ever really want to stop because I meet so many cool people. And there's so many cool opportunity. My opportunity for writing came from the podcast and like, I just, I love doing it. So.

Chris Spear:

So any other big things you're working on? Or is this enough on the table right now,

Unknown:

um, merchandise will be dropping soon. I didn't do it before but I was doing it kind of by myself. But now I have a system in place to where merchandise will be back up and running. So really looking forward to that YouTube starting to put up actual recorded videos of the podcast, which I've never done before. So doing that, and yeah, like the biggest thing I think right now on top of mine is this running fundraiser. So for the month of October, myself and whoever wants to join I'm going to be running 40 miles to represent the 40 million meals that world Central Kitchen had, you know, served during COVID-19 relief. So that's been the biggest thing to the fundraiser in October raising money and raising funds for one central kitchen.

Chris Spear:

That's an amazing cost. Did you do that last year,

Unknown:

I did that last year for No Kid Hungry ran 47 miles to represent the 47% of households with kids that were experiencing hunger during that time. So Wow,

Chris Spear:

that's a that's a lot of running.

Unknown:

Yes, I've picked up running last year during the pandemic It was like June. I always wanted to like run but I hated running so I'm like one day I just started running. I think last summer I ran like 130 miles between June and September so think like it was very therapeutic for me last summer to be able to run and just like listen to music and have my own you know your your it's a different feeling when you're challenging your own physical body to do something and so I think that was a really fun.

Chris Spear:

It's my time to listen to podcasts or catch up on music and stuff like that. I really enjoy that like one hour in the morning like I try and go walking as soon as I get the kids on the bus like have my headphones ready to go start the day before it gets to be 100 degrees this morning is beautiful. If you haven't been out yet

Unknown:

yeah

Chris Spear:

Well I also like to find out a little bit about people and their culinary style like what do you like to cook What do you like to eat? What's your what's your style?

Unknown:

I mean eat or anything except ranch dressing I hate ranch dressing I can't I'm from Buffalo so wings and ranch dressing is like a original sin but yeah I mean I'll eat anything i mean you know really just depends I feel like all like chefs are kind of the same that like we just like stuff that maybe isn't I don't know like I'll go in like I love sushi like sushi is a big thing for me but also have like food trucks and I love going to taste new places I'm not really like a chain guy so much I mean I do like there's like this little like running joke my friends I do like olive garden I know hate me for it but no I definitely just like going out to and try new things but you know if I were to think of like one meal if I could like if I had all the money and all the time I would definitely be sushi I love sushi so much they're just Japanese food in general but yeah I mean cooking styles you know it's it's interesting because you know if I'm cooking I love making like basic stuff like pasta pizza like when I had friends over like three weeks ago I made pizza It was like really delicious and I really enjoyed it so like I like stuff like that you know I really loved when I was like in corner school and like going to fine dining restaurants I loved like really intense like fine dining plates and I definitely like still once in a while have the urge to like make something that's like a like that would be considered like elevated but for me it's just like really like stuff has basic and tastes good like making soups or like when I'm at home I said making pasta and like I live by myself so there's not like a demand for me to like really go out or just making something that tastes good but I'm definitely like pastas or pizzas and at home are definitely like some of the things I like but I also like trying new things to like oh, I definitely in the next month plan on making ramen out of the Ivan ramen cookbook again I made it like two years ago and I was like an all day affair so challenges like that, but um, that's kind of what I like to cook.

Chris Spear:

That sounds fun. I have the book but I haven't made it yet. I have way more books that I look at for inspiration that I've never made anything from. You probably need to either stop buying books or start making more food

Unknown:

that's fair. Save here though.

Chris Spear:

Are you still someone who tries to learn things like for your media type stuff? Like are you learning how to be a better writer? Or are you trying to learn how to podcast better and if so, like where are you getting information from?

Unknown:

Yeah, I mean I'm always trying to I mean I read a ton of books to start just about different topics. I think a big thing has been more so my personal growth personal development, but anyway podcasting you know, just like YouTube videos are online. Like how to upload a YouTube video I was watching a YouTube video on how to do that I'm writing working with my editors. You know Liz Caroline Chandra, who was at played before our very you know, great people and just like really love working with them reading other people's work with writing, listening to other people's podcasts seeing how they do it. And then just like for a workflow yeah always asking questions always being open to new things you know, having meetings with people that necessarily aren't in my department just learning what they do you know, I definitely think like you have to remind yourself a lot of times to keep learning because you can get so consumed in your life into what you're doing but uh yeah I'm always definitely open to learning and listening and you know, progressing because yeah, he said I'm 24 years old I have a lot of time hopefully knock on wood left so I keep learning and so just being open to the opportunities that come my way and not ever asked him like I know everything which is tough because ego is a very difficult thing to put down sometimes.

Chris Spear:

It most definitely is I love Ryan holidays book ego is the enemy of you right that it's my favorite

Unknown:

book of all time. Yeah, really? Yeah. Yeah, that book is amazing.

Chris Spear:

Well, what do you want to leave our listeners with today any

Unknown:

nuggets of wisdom? nuggets of wisdom um,

Chris Spear:

or just anything in general that we haven't gotten into?

Unknown:

Yeah, I mean, I love to kind of enter how much time we have but I love to kind of like get your thoughts on or maybe just talk a little bit about what we like where we see the industry going. I know we had this 2021 podcast that we probably all got wrong you know with COVID without like, I don't know if you noticed but I actually am just recovering from having COVID unvaccinated and like the last like I got I had a breakthrough case and in the last two weeks I've just been kind of this is my this is my last day of quarantine right now.

Chris Spear:

That's scary stuff like that's what I fear so much.

Unknown:

Yeah, I mean it started I was like it was weird because I had felt I felt odd but then I was like well maybe you know this is very like bad sinus weather right now to at least like down here for me like I like the pollen count is high.

Chris Spear:

Like I'm on to allergy medicines and I still feel like crap every day.

Unknown:

Yeah, so like, I thought it was allergies and then the next day I kind of got like chills, there's a guy this is definitely my allergies. So then but and I supposed to actually go on a business trip or work trip. And so I was flying out the next day. I was like, No, I'm vaccinated. I know I don't probably don't have it. I'm gonna go get tested and turns out I was positive and I mean, I lost my sense of smell, which means I lost I mean, I have some of the back but it's not like 100% just fatigued a lot of stomach issues. Luckily no fever luckily No, like respiratory issues, but yeah, so I mean, like, you know, just like in getting COVID even with being vaccinated, like it's kind of just shaking, whatever, you know, like I'm still I feel like I'm safe and obviously I'm healthy and like, I didn't have it terrible, but it's like, you got I got vaccinated, and I had this like sense of like, you know, I still want my mask and whatnot. But I was like, yeah, I'm pretty good. And maybe now that I've had COVID and the vaccine and I wear a mask, I'm like, hoping that maybe that's enough to get it again. But it's just like, you know, it just shows like, this virus is like, it just has a mind of its own it we don't really know still like, talking to doctors about my symptoms and be like, hey, like, I'm starting to get like, like, it was like day eight, where I started getting nauseous again. And I was like, hey, like, Is this normal? Like we, you know, are like, there's no, like, clear cut answer to anything. And so just like, I don't know, what are your thoughts like moving forward, because for me, it's like COVID, it seems, is gonna be endemic, it's gonna be like, how we see the cold, not saying it is like the cold or flu. But I've been reading reports that we're not going to hit a point where it's going to be like, total immunity is going to be end up just being like another thing that we get vaccinated against, and it's this around. So that being said, it's like, I don't know if like, we're like, if that means like, as we come to that realization, do we start to go back to normal even more? Because, you know, I see people out now like, concerts at restaurants, or like bars, like super, super crowded, no mask, and I'm like, like, this is like, kind of scary. So I don't know, what are your thoughts on where we're going?

Chris Spear:

I know it is scary. I try not to be judgmental. And I find that the thing that is most maybe not most bothersome to me is like how judgmental you become of like people who especially we're friends, like we have people who were close to who are on opposite ends of the spectrum with us as far as like, safety and precaution. Like, I've got friends who have not gotten the vaccine, they don't believe in it, we have friends who have never masked, like, even during the height of COVID, like, go to a park with the kids. And the sign says like, must wear a mask. And they're like, we don't wear masks. And you know, it's really hard because people like you liked and respected and want to hang out with now it's become this issue where it's like, no. So that's something I've had to deal with. For me, it's been hard because we still have kids at home. I have nine year old twins, they're both unvaccinated. So you know, we're living to kind of protect them. Like, I don't know, if I was your age, if I was younger, single didn't have kids relatively healthy and vaccinated, like maybe I would be eating out in restaurants, I thought 2021 was going to be the year of me dining and all the places that I wanted to go to. And I have literally still not eaten inside a restaurant since March 2020, like zero indoor dining at all. So if you're not doing outdoor or takeout, I'm just not eating there. And I still think there's a subset of the population who are like that, I think we're kind of dwindling out. But you know, it's things like, in my hometown here, we had a lot of outdoor dining, you know, parking lots converted to dining areas, and taking over sidewalks and stuff. And then the regulation was like 30 days from the end of the state of emergency and had to be taken down. So September 15, was supposed to be the deadline. And they kind of told everyone, like, clean it up, dismantle everything, and our cities kind of given them like an extended window. But that's the kind of stuff that I feel like, people like me aren't going to be dining in restaurants, how many people are like me and won't be dining in restaurants? And how much does that affect their businesses? Right? And then, you know, a lot of people say, well, you're only thinking about restaurants like what about the businesses downtown and how, you know, they've lost parking spots now, because they're taken up by sidewalk tables, or we've closed down the streets for dining, and now people can't get to the flower shop, or the candy shop, or whatever. So I do see that are that the city's not getting revenue, because now they're not using those parking meters. So I do understand that that's a bigger issue that, you know, I can't even conceive of some of that stuff. But I think we're still in this weird window until I think kids can get back, I think until everyone can get vaccinated, I still think we're in this weird time where you're gonna have a big section of the people who are not going out doing things they normally do. But my wife and I talk about all the time that we think this is going to be like the flu, just like this thing that you get like that we're all eventually going to get COVID everyone's going to get COVID But hopefully, it's not going to be that bad. Hopefully, by the time if I get it, I will have had like maybe this next booster or you know, next year shot or something, and I'll have built up so much of a resistance that I won't be terrible, but I don't know this thing keeps changing. And as it keeps mutating, and we keep getting new variants, like who knows, I think all bets are off with this one.

Unknown:

Yeah. And the reason I guess I bring this up is like, I guess if there was like any nugget of wisdom, it's just like, like you said, like this. For anyone, like let's like listening to restaurant workers and listening to people in the industry and just like whatever decisions are made. Now, if someone wants to leave the industry, if someone's going the industry, it's like, no one knows what's going on. And so like, if you're like, Someone listening in you're like, on the fence about making a decision that was like benefit you but you're like, well, maybe it's only the best thing for my restaurant. Like, I feel like everyone just has to do what they need to do for themselves right now, regardless of judgment of others. So if you need to leave restaurants, you want to go back into restaurants like that's like the one of the biggest thing for me is like, you just got to do what's best for you. Because like, no one knows what's current, like, what the future is gonna hold. And so yeah, I don't know, man, I think it's gonna be interesting to see how our industry kind of evolves over the next few years. I mean, you know, I think the biggest thing that shocked me is the number of cases still, and like the number, like, even with, like, the, you know, obviously, like, there's a lot of people not taking it seriously. And I think we've gotten gotten very lacks, and so yeah, I don't know, I just I hope that by like, 2022 hopefully, we're having a podcast where it's like, Alright, or we're getting somewhat back to normal. But um, yeah, I just would like, I guess any nugget of wisdom is just like, you know, just do, like, do what you need to do. Don't worry about what other people think type thing in terms of like, wearing masks like, care about what other people think and care about other people's well being in a pandemic, but like in terms of like, your career would do what you need to do so.

Chris Spear:

And I think there are amazing opportunities, I mean, how many businesses, you know, people say they're tired of hearing the word pivot, but like, there have been a lot of opportunities to change your business. And I think a lot of the businesses that have succeeded and done well have been very open to changing their business model, and changing how things work. And I think there's going to be some great business things that come out of this. Like, for me, I literally never used instacart, before the pandemic, like, I didn't, I was cheap, like, I was trying to like crunch numbers with my business. And then you're just like, one time as the ultimate value, to like, I don't want to go in the store and be around all these people. And it's like, literally changed so much of how I operate my business, the fact that I can go and spend 30 minutes picking up two deliveries, as opposed to like, six hours driving around and shopping in all these stores, to what pay 5% more like totally worth it. And now, all these stores hopefully forever gonna have like curbside pickup, and, you know, if I never went back to shopping in a grocery store, I'd be fine with that.

Unknown:

Yeah, I mean, using instacart, like, over the last two weeks to get groceries, because obviously I can't leave my apartment. So it's like, yeah, just having all these new ways of like, living in, you know, obviously, like comes with like, you know, you need to be able to afford instacart. So some people can't do that. So So yeah, there's still like, like, obviously, for everyone is different. But yeah, I mean, there's definitely a lot of different ways of going about living so

Chris Spear:

and it is going to close more businesses, if we don't get things back to, I don't wanna say normal, or the way they were before. But a lot of people like kept holding hope that like, Oh, this is only going to be a couple of weeks shut down, oh, a couple months shutdown will be will be good. And a lot of people are finally stretched so thin, and they just combined with a worker shortage, the increased price of goods. I mean, food is ridiculously expensive right now. So like, all those things combined is like a perfect storm. And I think we're gonna lose a lot of not just food businesses, but businesses in general.

Unknown:

Yeah, I mean, and then you saw the jobs report, and you saw like how the economy's doing right now. It's like, it's tough, it's tough. I said, I don't own a business owner operated business. And, you know, that's like, the thing I think we also can lose sight of sometimes when talking about food businesses or restaurants is obviously like pro worker, I really want people in the restaurant industry to have like, a good life and to, you know, I think there's a lot of stuff that needs to be better needs to be fixed. But I also think that being an operator and owner, a business owner in the food industry is just as tough. And I think that even like the structures or the, the systems we have in place for even business owners, like, you know, talking to a business owner and saying how expensive it is to afford health insurance for his team. You know, just like stuff like that, that we don't know, a lot of people don't know, or realize because they never owned a business. So it's like, I definitely empathize with people that are struggling as like operators right now, too. It's not like, I don't ever want to be like, oh, like business owners are evil, even, like, cooks are good. It's like, no, it's like not that at all. It's like everyone's struggling. How do we get to a point where both parties are having a very likely a wife that is, like, feasible, or a life that is actually healthy for you? So yeah, I mean, it's definitely it's tough to see. And it's just like, you know, hoping for some relief at some point, but I don't know, when you look at the news, and you just look at how it's going. I mean, I mean, you looked at like the new variant mu For example, I read that the peak was in July, but that it's like, like vaccine like innovates the vaccine, I'm just like, it's like what this virus like there's something new every day that so like, darker, like so like just bad news, I'm just like, we need some positivity here. So at some point with this thing, so

Chris Spear:

that's why at some point, you just have to say that like things are gonna be the way they are gonna be. Not to be depressed about but like, I can no longer hold out hope that like things are going to be better in a month or like, hold off on my plans and say, well, like, I'll change this next month or two months when we're out of this. Like I don't know that we're going to be out of this and the way that we all are hoped so now it's like what is your day to day life look like and stop, like, hanging your hopes on like tomorrow, if that makes sense.

Unknown:

Now, somebody does like this idea of just like, you know what you said, like we started this and we're like, oh, it's only gonna be a couple months it's like this and I think a lot of people have become resilient and adapted and I think we're you know, I don't think it's all doom and gloom. I think people are like really adapting and being resilient during this. I mean, we've all gone through something like it's, it's been tough for everyone at various degrees like, yeah, it was tough for me like I left a job that I liked and you know, other personal things happen, but I was never sick. I was never in a hospital. So just like, you know, it's tough but it always I always say cannabis like gratefulness to so.

Chris Spear:

Yeah, well, um, let's end on a high note. Yeah, if you were flavor what would it be?

Unknown:

flavor? Oh, that's an interesting question. Like a specific foot leaguer? I'm not gonna give you any help here. Definitely be something savory and salty and naughty. I would say like, I don't know. Exact flavor, exact taste like aged Parmesan cheese.

Chris Spear:

Okay, so a little salt. A little salty. Little umami.

Unknown:

Yeah, Mommy, I don't like I'm not a big fan of sweets. And a classic for sure.

Chris Spear:

It's a Yeah, it's been around for ages. Yeah, I like to ask. I like to throw a weird one in there. Sometimes I throw it out as the first question to throw people off balance. No, it's fine. Good icebreaker.

Unknown:

reliable. You know, something you can trust. workhorse in the kitchen? Yeah, nothing like too, too crazy. So yeah.

Chris Spear:

Well, thanks so much for coming on the show. I appreciate it. I'm so glad we could catch up another time. Yeah,

Unknown:

no, thanks for having me on. It's definitely uh, I can't believe it's been this way. I know. We've talked so much. And I was like, wait, I've never actually been a guest on your show. So I think that was really cool to finally do it.

Chris Spear:

Thanks for listening to the Chefs Without Restaurants podcast. And if you're interested in being a guest on the show, or sponsoring the show, please let us know. We can be reached at ChefsWithoutr staurants@gmail.com. Thanks so m ch.