Awesome podcast today, world traveling chef and the author of First-timers’ Cookbook, Shawn Bucher, joins us. He fell in the culinary arts after taking class by accident. His first job in the food world led to him cutting his finger, blood everywhere, and dropping a knife on his foot. Fast forward 20 years, and he’s a world recognized chef. Please welcome, Shawn Bucher.
00:04:00 Shawn’s Background
00:05:13 Funny story what got him into the culinary world
00:08:33 Technical College experiences & Work on the Delta center
00:10:08 Chefs today being highly looked upon by people
00:11:59 On Mentorship and taking advice/ Role of education
00:15:29 Degree vs Unique Opportunites
00:18:30 Damon asks about the legitmacy of the phrase “90 of all restaurants fail”
00:22:12 The issue on Entry level Restaurants/ Chefs
00:26:47 The association of Convenience stores with fast food
00:28:43 Shawn’s book “First Glimmers Cookbook”
00:33:35 What would Shawn tell his younger self or any advices that he could share
00:39:45 Closing remarks
00:41:02 Random Question Generator
Podcast Episode Transcripts:
Disclaimer: Transcripts were generated automatically and may contain inaccuracies and errors.
Hey listeners. Thanks for joining us again for learning from others.com. Today, we have Shawn Bucher who is a deaf master. You know what Kyle, what I’m going to like about this column. I’m so far removed from this world that I’m going to learn a lot myself. I would have to try to keep myself from asking them actually cooking tip questions.
That’s going to be my biggest thing. I’m already like, I want to know how to cook the perfect pork chop. So maybe later, Sean, we need to talk about that. So, Sean, thanks for joining us. Say hello. Hello, everyone. So Sean is when we were talking offline. I asked him if he has a nickname and I deemed him the culinary King, which, um, whether he wants to accept it or not, that’s now his trademark with me.
So Sean, quick background, Sean, why don’t you tell us kinda what companies you’re working with now and what your roles are. So we can kind of establish the credibility that you bring to the conversation. And then we’ll kind of talk about some of the fun stuff after that. Okay. I, uh, Lee, I’m a consultants food service consultant.
I’ve got a lot of different clients that I work with all over the country and all over the world. Um, I most recently was the acting COO for, uh, Winger’s restaurants and then have now stepped back into more of a consulting corporate chef type role with them. I also. Uh, do some work with a company called D M and a formerly known as Don Miller and associates.
They’re the largest health care food service consulting firm in the nation. Um, they primarily focused on health care, but we do a few universities and things. So in a nut shell, I teach people how to cook, but also how to make money cooking. Well, I think that appeals to our audience is making money. So this is great.
We love the entrepreneur stories. Um, why don’t you tell us, I heard there’s a funny story on how you got into this world. How did you get into the culinary world? Well, essentially by accidents, um, I was 16 years old, kinda. Checking all the art classes I could at the time I wanted to be a graphic designer, really liked to create things.
And so I could take them all to our classes. I could have the high school and my guidance counselor at the time said, why don’t you go take some colleges up at the tech college thing? You know, it’s, it’s free. You get high school credit, college credit pay for it. I, yeah, that’s great. So I’m looking through the course catalog and I see culinary arts and I’m like, Oh, cool.
An art class. I’m going to, I’m going to get to do watermelon carving. I sculptures. This is going to be great. So, so I, uh, I get in there the first day and my instructor fix, he says, all right, coaching for 200 people in the next three hours, let’s get to it. And I thought, what did I get myself into? Um, but I ended up being okay on it.
And the timing of it was actually just about perfect, because this was back in about 97. It was the year of the first NBA lockout. And the reason that’s important is that all the cooks at the van Delta center would be Utah. They had left the season was supposed to start in October, but because. There was this disagreement with the players and the owners, the season wasn’t starting.
So all those cooks just left and went some other jobs. They couldn’t wait around. So in January they say, all right, we’ve reached an agreement. We’re going to start next week. So the shut down that basically said, if you can breathe, I will hire you. Um, and, and if the time I was cleaning the grocery store meat department at night, which is bar none, hands down, the grossest job I’ve ever had, but going from that into the Delta center was a huge change.
I mean, the first day. I cut the tip of my finger off. I still have Turkey juice on me. I have a knife dropping my foot all within like the first 15 minutes. And the chef literally said to me, dude, go home. You’re not going to survive. And I said, no, chef, I can do it. You know, he said, well, but seriously, they’ll go home.
She lost a lot of blood.
Okay. Come back the next day. So I came back the next day and I ended up spending the next eight years with them and really being mentored by him. We moved. So hotels, some multiunit chains, and he really kind of inspired me and got me going on my entrepreneurial journey. Cause he helped me realize that no one was going to take care of my future.
Like I was. So how long did it take before this guy? Didn’t think you were in that job. Oh man, probably years. I mean, he, he put on a show that it was maybe a couple of weeks, but it was probably a couple years before he really started to trust me. That’s crazy how you can kind of fall into things. Um, you know, Kyle and I, we kind of fell into working together to go on a big, long story now, but the same kind of thing, just totally random and ends up.
so back to the technical college, when you first went into that class, uh, kind of the same kind of question. How long did it take before you went from Holy crap, what did I get into to, Hey, this is pretty cool. I like it. Well, I, you know, in all honesty, probably a couple months, because it was a, it was a two year program that I finished in nine months, mostly because I wanted to be done and I wanted to be out working and making money, but also because the opportunity presented itself for me to go work at a very understanding instructor who basically said, look, No, you’re, you’re here to learn how to get into the industry.
And now with the Delta center, you have a chance to get in an industry. So why don’t you go get into the industry and learn while you’re there and I’ll give you credit for it. So I was like, yeah, I can do that. So it was getting high school credit, college credit, as well as getting paid to do that. So let’s just kind of a no brainer to me.
And within the first three or four months, I kind of started to get the bug where you were. I started to go out to these events and meet other chefs. And at the time, I mean, this is, this is the late nineties. The food networks had just come out in a year, year or two previous to that. And it really wasn’t what it is today.
You know, it was kind of, I always compared to the wizard of Oz. No one really shared what was behind the curtain back in those days, it was just kind of, Oh yeah, it’s good. And it’s great. And whatever, but now it’s such a cultural phenomenon and chefs are like rock stars now where in the past that have no extended case.
Yeah. Lots, lot to do with actually food network. Cause I remember growing up, my dad always loved to cook, you know, Gabby gourmet, and then it was Emeril Lagasse though. Back when he was still just young and. And I think if he’s kind of the first one, I would say that kind of got that cult of personality for being the real famous chef.
You hold that to like him, or do you see its food network? Well, the food network and him, I mean, he was a pioneer on the food network. He was one of the first chef hosts. There was on there, him and walking par. Bobby Flay, those, those guys, Tyler Florence, those kids were all pioneers of that media
and still are the faces that are associated with that. And Emeril and Wolfgang kind of went off on their own and created these multi million dollar businesses. Uh, you know, not only from, from their exposure on the food network, but because of the operations that they have, the restaurants there. Um, their licensing deals, you know, all of those things, the food network just further solidified who they were, gave them a platform to jump off of.
But yeah, absolutely. It was kind of a, a commingling of the suitor for sure.
You’re you get to work with, um, out of the Delta center, uh, like you said, at the time, uh, where the jazz were playing in, looking at your bio, you have, you have some really interesting high profile credentials. So for our listeners that are in this world or considering this industry, how did you get from.
No straight out of high school, working with any opportunity as a Delta center and then progressed to where you’re at today. Well, like I mentioned before, the shepherd I was working with at the time was a great mentor to me and helped me really avoid some pitfalls. You know, I, I kinda got into the mentality that I need, who did go to culinary school and I wasn’t ever going to really be anything.
If I didn’t go to like a four one. No two or four year school. And he basically sat me down one day and said, look, you’re going to spend a ton of money and you’re, I can teach you everything. They’re going to teach you. So. Regardless of what degree you have, it’s still a brigade system. You have to get into the bottom and you have to work your way up.
And you’ve already gone in with the bottom and worked your way up. By that time I was, I was kind of like, you’re an assistant sushi. I was helping out up in the Jasmine a hundred club, which was like for prime dining, silver. Right. And he just said, you know, don’t, don’t go waste your 60 or 70 or a hundred thousand dollars.
Going to school to get a piece of paper when I can teach you everything you need to know here. So he, at the time started bringing in, you know, all these whole fish and all these things that I normally would do. As hard as school said, he did it while I was there on the job. And I really got to learn how to make money, not just drop this food.
It was called a score. I mean, I was an instructor for a couple of years, some dirt familiar with the curriculums and what they teach the problem with it is it’s much like a society today where we are, are created to be part of the machining part of what needs to happen to get. Uh, food manufactured. I mean, food is a multifaceted business.
It’s manufacturing, customer service, you know, there’s, there’s so many different things and. We, those schools really teach you how to go become part of that. Not necessarily you create your own machine. And so he really steered me more about direction said, go get your bachelor’s degree. That will open a lot more opportunities for you.
You’ll never be disappointed that you have it. Um, so I thought, well, yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So I went in and I was working at the time. Um, you know, I was working crazy restaurant hours, 60 hour weeks, but I, I managed to find it was back when online school was starting to get big it Sergei. I took a course, um, in hospitality and tourism management there, I got a master’s degree while I was traveling.
It was basically I’d work all day and then I’d just spend all my shell. Sometimes til two or three o’clock in the morning working on homework and then getting back up at six, six 30 to go in work. But those sacrifices obviously paid off because regardless of whether my degrees quote, unquote, done anything for me, there’s a perception in other people’s minds that if I have those credentials or those, those acronyms behind my name, somehow I know what the hell I’m talking about.
Yeah. Yeah, that makes sense. So do you think that, um, so I think you explained, well, the value that, that education brought to you, what would you say to other people? Do you think that they should pursue a degree or should they, uh, you know, seek unique opera? Obviously you can’t pick and choose unique opportunities like that you’re fortunate enough to have, but for somebody start refreshing this field, would you just say don’t hit the ground running or to find opportunities?
Or would you say start. It down the formal education path. Well, you know, I, I, I talk a lot about this on my podcast because I think it is very important and I want people to avoid a lot of mistakes that either I’ve made or some been made. I don’t think. That formal education is for everyone, but I also would never discourage anyone from doing it because I do think he can unlock doors.
I think a lot of it comes down to what is your end goal? What is your end result? What do you want? And then work backwards from there. You know, if you want to be a culinary instructor or a, um, You know, someone working with the CIA current student America. Yeah. You’re going to have to go for those degrees.
You’re going to have to go through your certification in all these different things. They are going to look for it. We’ll get into that. But if you just want to open your own restaurant and, and kind of, you know, doing a little 40 seat. You can learn all that, just kind of on the job and then either hiring consultants or talking to your food manufacturers and distributors.
That’s the thing about our industry today is it’s so collaborative, our food distributors companies that Cisco and us foods, they’re very entwined in our success because the more we succeed, the more we buy it from them. And so they’ve, they’ve opened up entire new divisions Rapids help you design your menus, or they have their own POS system that are all cloud based and built with a C.
And there’s just a ton of options with what we have today. So what I would say is it really condensed the individual. Um, but first and foremost, for anybody getting into it and you have to get in the industry and work. Or at least yours too, just to see if it’s what you want, even though there’s a lot of different segments through the industry now logging in through podcast, social media type things, all the way.
Owning and operating your own restaurant or frigging products, distributors. There’s so many different foods you can get in. You really have to understand the nuts and bolts of the industry, which is at its core serving food. So until you know how to cook and serve food that. It’s
aspects if you don’t like that probably should be traditions. Yeah. So while we’re on this, Sean, is it true that they say about 90% of our restaurants fail? You know, I don’t know where that comes from. So is there any. There, there is from a timeframe I would say it’s probably close to 70% and it’s probably closer to five years.
One year. Um, the problem is if you want change and all these different places, then sure. It might be a little bit higher, but just an independent restaurant is probably more like seven weeks. And it’s more like five years, not just one year. Here’s the challenge with it is that. It is a very good focus.
Like I said, it’s multi-factored, you are essentially manufacturing, your you’re taking a raw product and putting out a finished product. Um, you know, the items are cherishable, you’ve got very unskilled labor most of the time. You know, our industry right now is shoes for labor because most of the people that are working in food service now are there because they have to be there and not necessarily because they should be there.
And that’s, that’s a huge challenge because how do you inspire and motivate someone who has to be there? You know, it’s just like working in the prison system. You have to be there. So you have a perception of. What it is, and you’re not going to necessarily change that mindset. A lot of people who makes mistakes when they were younger or did get schooling, or don’t have a lot of other options, they go out and they serve, but it’s supposed to be, it’s an entry level job that they can get into and make them make a little bit higher wage.
The reason they can make their higher wage now is because there’s such a shortage. It’s basic economics. There is supply and demand, and our, our demand continues to grow. Our supplies seems to be limited. Our demand is growing because retailers die. Um, as retail goes more and more online, look at what takes over the spaces, which eateries it’s fast, casual concepts.
Those restaurants are now becoming more of the anchor tenants to the targets and the Walmarts and the big boxes than the retail shops. So. And that’s great. People love to go out to eat. They work the TV, so that continues through those numbers for us. But it’s also very challenging to keep up with that band because we just don’t have people that want to get in the service.
They look at it and they think, why would I go work like crazy and hot, dangerous environments? When I go start coding at 60,000 a year right off the gate. Yeah, that’s interesting. Yeah. Thank you. I, would’ve never made it the connection between, um, you know, with, with the internet being my world. I can see those correlations between industries rising and failing because of the increase of internet, but I would have never made the connection to restaurant, but the way you explained it makes total sense.
That’s really interesting. So. Um, do you think that there’s, there’s so many levels to it? This industry. Okay. Like you sat on one end there’s the entry level. And then on the other end, there’s, you know, we’ll say your, a level and everything in between. So when we get to the positions of chefs and above, you can make something sexy about it.
You can talk about food network and horrifying industry, things like that, but it seems, do you think that there’s always going to be the issue of, um, the lack of, uh, skills in the required the Sesame of an entry level position? Because it doesn’t seem like you can’t really make a server position sexy.
And just as a base level position, sexy. So that’s something that this industry is just always going to have to deal with. Well, I think a lot of that, how you’re approaching, if you look at some of the high profile, really upper level players, guys, like Thomas Keller, who’s got, you know, two restaurants, both the three initials stars.
I mean, he’s trying to get the top of the food chain, so to speak. He has no problem with. Now part of that is, um, I spent significant amount of time in all of his restaurants and great. There is a culture there. The key creates, you know, she has benefits for his employees. He does a lot of foods that are not necessarily traditional.
Now, a lot of people are serving to learn from you see, even somebody like McDonald’s and burger King, some of the entry level food places, I’m talking a lot more about torture and involvement to. Create a place where people have a work life balance and trying to get away from some of the stigmas that in-services endured over the years, that it’s it’s nights, weekends, holidays, it’s long hours at work.
They’re trying to kind of bring it back to create more of a balance for people so that they stick around longer. We don’t have to say the training, et cetera, et cetera. So I think a lot of it is restaurants have to adapt. Now you go to the Bay area and you go to some of the areas of the country where there’s a higher cost of living, but most of the employers are unions.
That’s the forwarder bag of worms, because obviously to pay someone, your union wages and benefits requires a lot more money, so prices are higher, but, um, firstly areas of the country that we’re starting to see a lot more automation, we’re starting to see the robots in those type of settings because economies of scale are just such that it’s never going to make sense.
To have somebody come in it’s okay. She’s 16 bucks an hour to start do routine tasks, which is basically assembly line. So all we’re doing is we’re taking the processes for the dementia age, industrial age have, and we’re now applying them. Again, new information. We’re getting robots replace some of those patient mundane tasks.
So a lot of the people that are hearing this, you’re seeing this like, well, that makes sense. That’s the problem. If you get in and improve, because I can’t tell you how many opportunities all along the food chain, but it’s just impossible to find people to grow with those opposites because they’ll learn one skill sets and they’ll think that that will carry them through to get to where I’m at.
I’ve had to learn business skills, customer service skills, interpersonal skills, digital. Online computer. I mean, all these different skills. I have to do
every segment of every part of business to stay relevant just in my business. So I think people are willing to do that. There is so much to control so much. Can you show it in this industry? It’s amazing, but you do have to get in introduce first. Yeah. You know, you brought up, um, something interesting and, and, uh, for the listeners, um, Sean is traveling right now and, you know, we might only have 10 or 20 minutes up.
And then I got a couple other things I want to go through and including travel and not sounds like a lot, but, um, One item that you mentioned was culture. And I thought that was interesting because of an experience that happened just a few weeks ago, I was heading to go camping with my family and our vehicle broke down.
So we were at this little gas station in the middle of nowhere. Usually there’s a subway and it was no longer there. So we talked to. Um, the mechanic is right next to the gas station and the mechanic family also gas station. And they were telling us that that way he had exited that Jason, because they want to get away from what he calls stores,
from what he heard. That is subway wants to get away from being associated with fast food. And
you know, who thinks about putting on a suit and tie to go eat at subway faster? No, I don’t necessarily have any questions. I just thought that was interesting. AA. We’re trying to deviate from the core product. I filled it out. Build a culture around something that, in my opinion, was making some sense to make that well, like there talks about earlier
perception, especially when you’re trying to do. Oh, I want to be associated with quality. They want to be associated with proud to work or be associated with. And nobody from my experience, generally real happy to say, Oh, I worked fast. So if they brand themselves as a sandwich to brand themselves as assessment service, and then that for different perception, Oh, only in thereby associating listener.
Um, so let’s get into a couple of other things. So you wrote a book called first number’s cookbook, and then you also have first timers. What made you decide to write a book? Well, again, uh, Necessity. I think I, I actually had a mutual friend of ours.
So we went to the bookstore. We were looking around and all I could find was either these books that were basically just collections of recipes. Or these books that were like a 900 stage professional chef, and there’s nothing really in between. There’s no hook size book. So I thought it’s a great opportunity to fill that niche.
So. Essentially from that, the concept of the first summer spirit is born in a nutshell, how to cook. This is what to cook. So it’s the basic principles and techniques and how they can be applied. Now, there are a few recipes in there to be able to help people kind of along that starting off points. But for the most part, it’s, it’s really meant
to help you understand why.
For me, I’m in the middle of writing a book as well. And, um, I’ve taken away a lot from the experience of writing a book. Uh, what is, what was your take on the, the process of writing a book? Oh boy. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Yeah, having done it a couple of times. Let me just say this. No one. No one should write a book to make money.
And you’ve got this huge platform, you know, you’re on the food network. It’s going to soak in busters. Don’t do it for the money. Mmm. Processes is really pretty cool because, and I’m sure so much in the process, you learn how to articulate ideas. You learn how to share a message, maybe the white, you know, how to share, you knew you had it.
Didn’t quite know how to share it. And then once you start to put it down on paper, when she starts to add graphics and all those things come see credibly. So man also so redundant. And so,
so it’s, it’s a, it’s quite a process, but I w I would say. You know, especially with technology, it’s a great opportunity for him, but it’s wants to learn how to do something or have the experience of learning something. You should absolutely read a book. There’s so many options that are getting published out where you don’t have to just.
Like back in the old days where query letters to agents and then waiting for agents to come back to a publisher and yada, yada, yada,
everyone else’s. And that was kind of the experience I have with my first book that I had to go through some more process. That book’s been out for over 10 years now. Um, and the industry’s changed. It’s just been maps. So I would definitely say just for the experience and the learning, write a book, don’t do it for the money though.
Yeah. You brought up some good thing. Uh, you know, good points that technology has made book writing a little bit easier. I know as I’ve gone through the process, everybody recommends and guns create space and it’s a self publishing and there’s all sorts of. Cool where, like you said, for me there a complicated process for those considering writing a book is just small details.
Like organize it. You have tons of knowledge, first organized, little digestible pieces, and then mentioned, gotta edit it. And we’ve got
the back and forth just to make sure everything’s polished.
Um, so I think Shonda says a few more minutes. So I wanted to ask, what would you tell your younger self, or is there any advice you can offer to listeners that might help them break into this industry? Uh, easier or if they’re already in the industry, help them grow quicker or just expectations for general, that kind of fishing for them?
Well, what I would say is. Essentially just know that whatever.
Okay. No, most times they’re in that process and it’s hard to know that that was coming. Take that in. And digest that, or just kind of plow through it can be hard at a lot of times you try to too much, or we try to make things a little bit. Yeah. Easier than they really should be for things to be too time consuming.
It teaches us patience, teaching valuable lessons.
That’s something that even though. And it’s as hard as anything.
So just be patient.
I work tonight. I worked every mother’s day.
I was there. I remember working a hotel. I was going ruined. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving, but I wasn’t going home Friday morning. And that was a really long, I mean,
at the end of it, you’re able to really step back and have a sense of accomplishment. And I think
once you get that, you have that ability to step back and get feedback at that point.
So with you traveling right now, and I know you’ve got to catch the flight in a minute is traveling. Um, no. When you get to the consulting level or working with corporate clients, the traveling. Pretty normal. Is that part of the industry
general? It’s just
what I do. I really have to be there. Okay. So traveling has just become kind of a necessary evil for me too. I love it at times. There’s there’s do I miss being work? When my kids do I miss. Not super in my own bed. Absolutely. No. At the end of the day, it’s the greater good, what I found my life and my family’s life.
We actually do better.
Six seven o’clock hour or two later.
I was always worried about
that now. I worked my guts out at Walmart so that when I’m home, I can just focus on that and just focus. I’m much more present either this week for individual, which is really helps my relationships, but also my business group, because I have an intense amount of focus once I leave the house, my mom’s road, but I’m able to accomplish a lot of shoes in a time period.
A lot of people, when they’re on the road, they want to give a sinner and they want to go to movies.
I think so. I think a lot of it is just prioritizing, um, and the separate strokes for different folks. There’s a lot of people I know that. Well, you know, you never know, you never know until you search for them, but for us, we found that this works better for us. And there’s just a different earning potential if you’re willing to travel and is willing to make more sex by CC her.
I think that’s a, a really, uh, I guess I’d say poetic way of putting that. It’s interesting. And I, you know, Kyle and I talked about that. Uh, quality of time, um, that I personally battled with lately with all the projects we have going on. And, um, so I can definitely appreciate, like you said, that it works best for you guys.
Um, well I know you can’t see Sean, but I’m holding up the copy of your book share first timers cookbook. Um, before we let you go, we want to put out any contact information, your website, phone number, social media. Anything you want to put out there and humble brag about the projects, stuff like that. Uh, sure.
So, um, I’m currently really proud and happy. Um, obviously my upper books, the books have done well for me over the years and timeless, uh, firsttimerscookbook.com. If you want to learn more about that, uh, we’ve also got a Facebook page, Instagram account, that type of thing. You can find me. At Instagram or Twitter at chef Shawn D JWN.
Um, I’m working hard on my podcasts right now and lovingly and get to meet a lot of people through that that’s business, chef.org or app make seed, make money, either Instagram or Facebook.
I got to say, Sean, um, your logo idea for business stuff is probably one of the best I’ve seen in a while. Um, that’s just perfect. The whisk in the microphone, like kudos to whoever designed that. Cause rarely do you find something so fitting? I just gotta say, I love that really nice. The Daymond, you got to spend the random questions.
Oh yeah. Okay. Okay. Hold on Sean. We got a random question generator. We find that, Oh boy. Was this your idea with the logo? Was that that’s so I love it. That is genius. To be honest with the you, I did it through design corrupt. Wow. Awesome. All right, Sean. So he, usually we have a battle with these questions and I don’t know if they’re going to be good or bad or what’s going to come of it.
But I think this question is very fitting for you, Sean. A random question for Sean Vishay is what is your favorite smell?
The only question I was nervous about,
you know, it’s funny, the first thing that popped into my mind, you said that that’s one thing that I love about food.
One of my favorite meals. If I was on my bed or I was on death row, if I was just going to have my. My last meal. I think it would be one of my dad’s. So the smell is the smell of my dad and the backstory. There’s my dad made omelets growing up every Sunday morning, or as long as I can remember still, you know, the last 37 plus years, that’s the smell of automatic joy to my.
Sean. I think your next book should be called the first timers.
I’ll let, I’ll let you go straight it for me. No, uh, that luck ain’t going to happen, buddy.
Hi, Shawn. Shawn Bucher, everybody. First timers, cookbook, go pick it up. Um, I appreciate your time. Uh, the chat with you, buddy. Safe travels. Thanks. Have a good one. Thanks guys.