Feb. 16, 2021

Chef and Culinary Instructor April DuBose – Teaching, Nostalgia and the Loneliness of Entrepreneurship

Chef and Culinary Instructor April DuBose – Teaching, Nostalgia and the Loneliness of Entrepreneurship

On the Chefs Without Restaurants podcast this week I have chef and culinary instructor April DuBose. She’s currently the culinary director and instructor at Baltimore Outreach Services in Baltimore, Maryland, a nonprofit shelter for women and their children. The culinary arts training program there is eight weeks long, and focuses on basic cooking and kitchen skills, as well as sanitation food safety. It prepares women for the basic skills needed for employment in a kitchen at the prep cook level. 

Previously, April was a culinary instructor at Lincoln Culinary where she received the presidents excellence award for instruction, and she was the culinary teacher of the year. She’s also been a forklift driver and bounty hunter. 

In our discussion we talk about teaching, internships and staging, comfort food and nostalgia, sharing recipes, and the loneliness of entrepreneurship. 
If you like the show, click the subscribe button, and if you listen on Apple podcasts, I’d love it if you could write and review the show. 

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April DuBose
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April’s Instagram https://www.instagram.com/duboseapril/
Baltimore Outreach Services http://www.baltimoreoutreach.org/programs/services-for-women/
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Transcript

Chris Spear:

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. They're 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 personal chef business perfect little bites 10 years ago. And while I started working in kitchens in the early 90s, I've literally never worked in a restaurant. On the show this week. I have chef April DeVos. She's currently the culinary director and instructor at Baltimore outreach services, a nonprofit shelter for women and their children. The culinary arts training program there is eight weeks long and focuses on basic cooking and kitchen skills as well as sanitation and food safety. It prepares women for the basic skills needed for employment and a kitchen at the prep cook level. Previously, April was a culinary instructor at Lincoln culinary where she received the President's Excellence Award for instruction, and she was the culinary Teacher of the Year. She's also been a forklift driver and a bounty hunter. In our discussion, we talked about teaching internships and stashing comfort food and nostalgia, sharing recipes and the loneliness of entrepreneurship. If you liked the show, click the subscribe button. And if you listen on Apple podcasts, I'd love it if you could write a review and rate the show. Thanks so much and have a great week. Hey, April, welcome to the show. How are you doing today?

April Dubose:

I'm doing well. How are you?

Chris Spear:

I'm great. Thanks so much for taking the time to come on the show. And tell us a little bit about yourself and in your experience in the food world.

April Dubose:

Oh, yeah, I'm excited.

Chris Spear:

So I usually just jump right in and say, you know, what's your relationship with food and the food industry? How did you get started? Were you always interested in food? And did you envision having a career in the food industry?

April Dubose:

My, my journey is one of trying to figure out exactly what I've always wanted to do. I was the oldest in my family. So I cooked a lot of the food. So a lot of times I was experimenting in the kitchen. So I've done lots of things. I've done everything from being a correctional officer to a bounty hunter to a forklift operator. During the time I was a forklift operator, and I was cooking cakes on the side. And people wanted me to prepare cakes for them. And then all of a sudden he said, Hey, why don't you cook some things. I was cooking things for people. And I really found that I really, really enjoyed it. What really inspired me was my aunt's wedding. And she had about 250 people at her wedding. And she asked me to cater it. I made no money on this now right? Only thing she pretty much paid for was the food. And I did everything wrong. Wrong. Oh my goodness, I did everything wrong and but I loved it. Every tiny bit of it. I loved it so much. So then I decided to go to colonnade school.

Chris Spear:

So what did you hold on? What did you do wrong? When you say you did everything wrong? What went wrong with this?

April Dubose:

I had a bit of a concept of that. I knew I needed to know how many people I needed to know how many people was going to be there but as far as preparing the food I did okay, right. I did okay with preparing the food, but the setup was incorrect. I had no direction So I was just going for it. Right? I just was going for it. And I realized that I needed help, that I loved doing this so much that I actually wanted to learn how it should be properly done. And so thank goodness the wedding went without any problem. Everyone loved everything. But in retrospect, I'm like, so then I went to culinary school. And where did you go to culinary school and to run a community college?

Chris Spear:

So, when you got out of college, what was your first job? Like? What did you jump right into?

April Dubose:

I really worked a lot for catering with small businesses, I catered a lot. I volunteered a lot of my services. I worked at some small restaurants. So a lot of that I did a lot of that. I worked at the convention center, where the kingdom yards I worked at the Science Center. I did things like that when I first started after culinary school.

Chris Spear:

And you actually then became a culinary instructor yourself at some point now, when in the time line, did that happen?

April Dubose:

Okay, so I received my degree in 2010. So a lot of that, working for small catering companies and things like that I did during college, a school, actually the, one of the directors of the culinary program, I worked for a while I was in culinary school, doing work study, because I was a chef assistant. And, you know, we had became good friends. And so she was moving from the job that she was there to become the director of the whole culinary school and Lincoln. Lincoln College of culinary arts, right. And so she asked me, she said, Hey, I think you would be a great instructor. Do you want to come? And so I said, I guess? Sure. So I started off as a shop assistant there. And then I became a colonnade instructor.

Chris Spear:

So did you need to go and get any additional training to become a culinary instructor?

April Dubose:

No, because I had stretched and cooked a lot, you know, so I had such a long resume. And every place I worked at, I've always been, if I get if I feel as though I've become good at something, then I'm moving on to what's next. So I really didn't stay at a lot of places for long, I got what I needed. I made some relationships, and then I moved on. So my knowledge of food was was intense, and I had and still have a very good knowledge of food. So I just needed my degree. But I

Chris Spear:

think being a teacher is hard. I mean, not everyone, just because they're going to craft is a good teacher. But then you actually receive the presence Excellence Award and instruction and or Teacher of the Year. Is that right?

April Dubose:

Yes, yes, that's very true. Just because you can cook doesn't mean that you can show people how to cook. So that was a learning. That was something I had to learn how to do. And some people are innately good and good teachers, you know what I mean. And I think I had that a little bit on my side, my mom was a teacher. So I kind of got it. But I developed being a better teacher as I went along. Because the support system at the time at Lincoln was very good. So you know, they always gave you classes of how to really, you know, have a good relationship with your students how to teach them better, and things like that. So I grew better as the time is the time when

Chris Spear:

I think I'm a good teacher, when people want to be taught, you know, I guess in school, most people are there because they want to learn, right? But not everyone always wants to be in a specific class. I remember going to culinary school, and there's some classes that I had to take. And I was probably a little I wasn't as obnoxious as some of the kids. But a lot of the kids make it known that they don't really want to be there, right? But it's like in a kitchen. When you're the executive chef or sous chef, you're the leader, and you're a teacher. But quite often I've worked in kitchens where you know, people are there and it's just a job to them. And they really don't want to learn and you're trying to show them all these proper techniques. And you can even if they don't say that you kind of get that attitude of like, Listen, man, I don't want to learn how to like satay this just like, let me do my job and get on out of here. Right. And that's when I have trouble kind of instructing people and I think it's different in a school environment versus a hands on environment.

April Dubose:

Really, I think that's a wonderful, that's a good connection, because I don't really think is that that different, really, one of the most difficult things was we received a lot of students that were second career students, they were getting really older. And then we received a lot of students that were straight out of high school, I find that the students that were straight out of high school were a bit more difficult, because they really didn't have a sense of direction. You know, I think that sometimes You know, when a young child doesn't really know what they're going to do straight out of high school, the parents say, well, you have to do something, go to culinary school, because they think it's going to get easy they think is going to be easy. And then when they actually go to culinary school, and they have to learn things like math, how to properly read a recipe, organization, teamwork, they realize, ah, maybe this is something that I don't want to do. That was the biggest difficulty was to try to motivate students that really didn't want to be they didn't really want to learn how to properly prepare items. So that was the difficulty. The older students, they, they were there, they said, I'm, I'm down for the law home, I'm gonna ride this thing to the wheels follow. But the younger students were at times a bit more difficult.

Chris Spear:

We talked a lot about culinary school on this podcast. And you know, I went to culinary school, and I'm still kind of divided on whether or not it's beneficial. But what I definitely would say is, know what you're kind of getting into, when you you know, when you're thinking about entering the food industry, I think it would be more beneficial to go work a couple years after high school and then go again, especially if you're an older student who's maybe paying with your own money and not just going somewhere because your parents are paying for it. Or not having any idea if you really want to be in food I find now I go and pay, you know, for workshops all the time. And I'm so much more engaged doing that as a 44 year old that I was as an 18 year old in, you know, meat cutting class and culinary school.

April Dubose:

I agree. I don't know, I am a bit torn myself, I must say, I think it depends on what you want to do and where you want to go. I never I wouldn't discourage someone, I'm going to call it a school. But do I think that it's so much of a necessity? It depends. It depends. You make awesome relationships in culinary school, you get awesome opportunities and culinary school that you may not get just under maybe an apprenticeship type of situation. But hey, guess what, I mean, I've volunteered a lot of my time and got a lot of free education, which is volunteering my time. I do suggest to the students go stodg you know, go, go let somebody use you for

Unknown:

a company. Whether you really like it?

Chris Spear:

Well, it's gonna be really interesting to see if that's even allowed going forward. Because there's been a lot these past couple of years about whether that's even legal. And some restaurants have even had fines of like a lot of money like $100,000, because they had been using free labor. Like there's a very fine line between when it's a learning opportunity versus when it's exploitation. And I know just in the past three years or so there's been some lawsuits for for some pretty big name restaurants and chefs. I know Nick oconus, who works with grant Achatz. And the Alinea group has said, they've never ever had any unpaid help in their restaurants, like they just don't bring in free help. If you know you're good enough to work there, then you're good enough to get paid. So it's really interesting to see where those lines are being drawn.

April Dubose:

Yeah, I think one of the things that I used to specify to a student that will be interested in starting is to have a contract up. And then there's a required item list that they need to be learning and there's certain amount of time that they can be actually in the restaurant. So, you know, I do agree, I think sometimes, I mean, we've had students that have been on internships, and they felt as though they didn't learn a lot. Right? They didn't get a lot and they felt as though they were being used.

Chris Spear:

I had to do an internship for school and I found where I went was phenomenal. Because I got to learn everything. They threw me right in. I was working the line. I was doing banquets, I was doing an events, I was doing events, but I've heard a lot of stories from just personal friends who went to the same school who were like peeling potatoes for their whole internship and doing the grunt work like they were a free set of hands. But what did they really learn my first day on my internship, I walked in the door, and I said, Hey, Chef, I'm here. What do you want me to do? And he said, put together cheese and fruit tray for a wedding. And I said, how when he said, You're a culinary student, I'm sure you can figure it out tracer in the hallway and fruit and cheeses in the walk and go nuts. And that was kind of how my internship went. And I had a lot of flexibility. And then they came out after I did it on my own and showed me how to make it better. But they gave me a little leeway. It wasn't this, you know, hierarchy where people were breathing down my back the whole time. And I really liked that and I got to learn so much. But there are so many people who just had to peel potatoes and do grunt work for the three months that they were at their internship.

April Dubose:

Yeah, that definitely happens, which is very unfortunate. But you know, I think if you For example, I do some mentorships. Now, so if there were, I do advise the students to have a schedule set out, have an objective and a learning list so that you have a certain amount of time you have to be there. And they are required to sign off on this. And these are the things that you've learned. So that helps with some direction. And generally, sometimes we we've used people in the past, I've been good for teaching, our students for internships have been really excellent. And they really promote teaching it. So that is a fine line. But it can be good, it can be good. But culinary school for me, allowed me to have lasting long relationships. And it really gave me a fine line exactly where I needed to go, and how to go about doing.

Chris Spear:

So what's your current position? What are you doing now?

April Dubose:

Right now I work at Baltimore outreach services. It is a homeless shelter for women and children. And they have a culinary program, there is eight we call it a program. And what they do is help young women specifically to get job ready. And that has been such a rewarding job for me. Because, you know, I, I pretty much dictate how the program is going to be run. So it's really a wonderful, wonderful experience. And so that's why I'm working at right now.

Chris Spear:

So what kind of jobs are you getting them ready for in the culinary field?

April Dubose:

Pretty much prep. Mm hmm. Pretty much prep work. So yeah. Every so often, I'll get a student that really loves food, right. But it's more of giving them direction. and confidence. I believe that that really helps them along. There's been students that have, I've taught and they've gone so far, in this industry. I mean, it's really, really wonderful. But they were really determined to do so. So you know, it's it's more of inspiration. It's more of confidence. So yeah, because we do a lot of other things besides cooking. And you know, I mean,

Chris Spear:

yeah. How do you get involved with them?

April Dubose:

Actually, one of the chefs that I used to work with at Lincoln, he has a friend Connie Crabtree, right, awesome, awesome shot. And she used to work there. And she used to choose to work at boss and she was about to retire. And we had met at a party that he had, we had an awesome conversation. And we had only met once. And so a couple months later, she had texted me and was like, Hey, I'm leaving to go down south. I'm about to retire, would you like to take my position? And so I was yes, I sure would love to take your position. So that's how I came to get the position. And it just, I just fit really well. And the whole environment of it. So I really went well. That sounds

Chris Spear:

like such a inspiring place to work. While we're on this topic. Is there anything anyone can do? who's listening out there to help? I mean, are you looking for volunteers or donors like, Is there any way that people who are local to the Baltimore area could get involved?

April Dubose:

Oh, definitely, you can definitely donate some Baltimore re services, unfortunately, going COVID donations are taking a little iffy right now. But they take financial donations, they take donations for clothing, things like that, because what's so awesome about the boss program, not only do they have a shelter, a lot of shelters do not. They put you out after certain amount of time. That adds a lot more services. They do not you can stay as long as you need to stay. But they also placed you in homes. Right. So they have a few homes that they fix up and they place and then the client can get to go into that home after leaving the shelter. They help with having you to be financially ready. It's just a really well rounded program. It's really pretty awesome. But bottom line outreach services, you can just search that and they also always at the bottom of their website, they have donate. So you can definitely help.

Chris Spear:

You brought up the C word. So I'm wondering what is COVID? How have you seen COVID impact, things like that? Are you seeing more people in need and how has that really changed your day to day life and operation?

April Dubose:

Oh, well definitely. Um, if I didn't mention and I'm still helping with comparison Kitchen. It's just a brunch spot. And we were opening weekends. And there was something that a friend of mine, which, which is my partner she had, this is something she always wanted to do, she wanted to do a brunch spot, just on the weekend, she wanted to be good, good food. And she's been in the industry over 20 years. So you know, she's classically trained, taught, and learned abroad. So, you know, analogy, food is very, very good. So it's difficult in all aspects to transition. Businesses now with COVID, because we've been shut down since COVID hit. There's a lot of disparities that are happening even more now. Because of COVID. That's just not on the service, just not obviously obvious of what we see. So it's, it's been difficult all the way around. For example, I just did a class recently, and it's hard to place them now. Because I COVID. You know, we can teach them but you know, it's harder to get jobs. So it's, it's been it's difficult on so many different levels.

Chris Spear:

Yeah, I know. Baltimore, just shut down all indoor and outdoor dining. Is that right?

April Dubose:

Yep. Sure. Did.

Chris Spear:

It's gonna be a long winter. Yeah. Just a big sigh. Yeah, no, that's, that's rough. And, yeah, I guess I hadn't even really thought about it in the context of you're training people to get jobs in food service. But there aren't that many jobs in food service right now. I mean, there's always contract food service and other companies and stuff. But like, restaurants specifically, and things of that nature. And everyone's scaling down, I mean, catering companies are scaling down. It's it's tough getting jobs as a personal chef right now. That's what I do in business has been up and down for the past nine months. So very unstable. industry right now, I

April Dubose:

think one of the positive ways to look at it is how you re evaluate what you do, and how you can make it better. Whatever markets you can touch into how resourceful you are. So those have been some things that I've been trying to do and thinking about and how I just need to revamp a lot of different things, at the very least, has given me time to organize. Just what I want to do next and how I want to go about doing it. But yeah, it's it's definitely been difficult.

Chris Spear:

Yeah, I don't knock anyone who just wants to chill with their downtime, but I feel like you know, if I'm working less now, and I have more opportunities to do some planning, right on the business end. And yeah, some some people I feel they're just squandering all this time. I'm not saying you have to be a workaholic for 80 hours a week while you're home. But right now, you can take advantage of some of that time to make plans so that when things are back up and ready to go, we can get rolling. Definitely,

April Dubose:

I think I've been in the kitchen. Actually, when when COVID first first hit, I was in the kitchen. Because I almost was like, Who? You know, I've been working constantly for so long. And it and you know it, it felt good. And now I'm getting that fire back up. And I'm preparing more items and baking more things and doing more experiments and trying to like you said revamp and take advantage of this time.

Chris Spear:

So do you still do any baking? Like do you sell cakes or desserts or products? Is that anything you do right now?

April Dubose:

I'm actually right now for my church. We're doing a me we're doing a fundraiser for some of the programs that we help with Baltimore City resident, and I'm doing some pastry there. Right now I am I am just reorganizing some things. I think, in a sense with entrepreneurship. I've been always teetering on that, you know, and I still haven't gotten it to the point of where I feel as though it's right. So now this time, I'm really still trying to organize, re evaluate. I'm trying to have recipes that are just perfect.

Chris Spear:

Do you have a plan to have your own business? Is that what you're working on right now?

April Dubose:

I do. I do. I do. And it's gonna involve teaching young women, specifically young women that have that could possibly have been homeless that are dealing with drug addiction or have been incarcerated or are teenage parents. And so yeah, I have a base of where I want to go with it. But I'm still trying to organize it till it makes it because it hasn't evolved in right. That's why Answer has done well. So, yeah, that's still that's still working things out.

Chris Spear:

From a food standpoint, what's your cooking style? And where do you get inspiration from what's I want a glimpse into that? Like, if you were to make something I said, just make me food, what would you make?

April Dubose:

Oh, geez, slow it I make, I'd see. It would probably be much my, my flavor profiles a more or less,

Unknown:

more.

Chris Spear:

So is that like fall warm? Like when you say warm, I

April Dubose:

should make you feel as though you are tasting something that you remember, but you can't quite pinpoint it. I like to use flavors that you commonly don't use something that, you know, why would you put that in that and that you didn't even know I put it in there. You know, it works. It makes sense. You know, it's delicious. And so I think I used to work for the chef, and he was very clean. With this flavors. Everything was very clean. It was on point. But it didn't have depth.

Chris Spear:

You know, when I meet me like soul, I think like that, like that's something about like, I see a lot of the modern restaurants with these dishes that are overly plated and everything's, you know, like that tweezer food and very precise, and it's, quote unquote, interesting on paper when you read it, and then you just eat it. And it's kind of I use the word like, hollow like you eat it. And it was and it was, it was good, right. But it's forgettable. You know, it's not something in a month or a year, you're gonna say, wow, you know, I had that. Whatever, at such and such restaurant, those aren't the things that I tend to remember, it always tends to be more of the warm homey things that strike a little nostalgia in there that really, that I that I

April Dubose:

love. Exactly, because we always associate food with a memory, right? How it made us feel what we were doing when we ate it, and what we you know, what we're bringing? Do we enjoy it, we'll be sad, we'll be happy. Is it something that you want to eat again, it's something that you just want to savor for those special occasions. And I think that's what my son does. When people come back, they always say that the foods in my pastries aren't incredibly sweet. Right? And that don't, sweet doesn't equal dessert. You know what, those don't have to be in the same category, right? But it should be something that you feel as though at the end of the awesome meal, you feel like you've completed that awesome. And I've gone to many awesome restaurants and the food was delicious. And the dessert was like, Oh, you know, it didn't finish, you know,

Chris Spear:

is sad. Yeah, you

April Dubose:

know that. It's like, that's the finishing of everything you've done, you know, that's the period end of that sentence, it should complete it. And my food does that it would complete it. It completes it. So

Chris Spear:

one of my friends who's a pastry chef, actually, he's a guest on the podcast, and he'll either be airing right before or after you he went to school for pastry. We were roommates and culinary school. And he always said, you know, what you savory chefs do doesn't matter. He said, because we're going to start the meal off with a bread, or you know, something like that. And then we're gonna finish it with dessert. So you can just muck it up all in the middle. And as long as we start the meal and the meal on the right foot, you know, it's all gonna be okay. And, you know, I took a little offense at that, but as you think it's like the first impression and the last impression, and yeah, if if you do it right, that can really make or break a meal.

April Dubose:

Exactly, exactly. So I think just as much care as it's been put into preparing that awesome meal, it should be just as much thought put into that desert down to the final thing. And you know, I I eat, I eat lots of desserts. I mean, just probably very unfortunate, but that he loves him desserts and a lot of them are so disappointing. I mean, I'm sorry, they're just so disappointing. They just don't make you feel that soul You said no, does doesn't make you feel that way.

Chris Spear:

I think one of the challenges is if you're making something that holds that to you why why do you enjoy that? And does that necessarily translate over to someone So for an example, like I'm from New England, so Indian pudding is one of my favorites. Have you ever had Indian pudding? Have you ever heard of Indian pudding? I haven't. It means Indian like Native American. So it's a pudding made with cornmeal. So it's cornmeal cooked in whole milk and then you add in molasses, and ginger and nutmeg and clove and all warming spices and then you just whipping eggs and then bake in the oven. And for me, I love that I grew up with it, but it's not like fine dining food, right? It's something you would get at like a diner or your grandmother would make so I had trouble when I started, you know, start my own business and wanted to be like a quote unquote fancy chef, that I wanted to do all these intricate desserts. But now I'm trying to come to terms of the fact that things like Indian pudding are what I should be making and serving, you know, but would you appreciate it if I made it for you, because it doesn't have the same connection. Like for me, it's nostalgic. And it brings up all these warm and fuzzy feelings. But you might just be like, why is this guy serving me like a bowl of like cornmeal and molasses, you know, so trying to figure out where where I stand in the food world and how I can get people to maybe fall in love with something that that I find that style jack? Does that make sense?

April Dubose:

It does. But that connection is always going to be there. That's your intention behind it. So I believe that intention behind the food is always going to make a connection to that person. I do think that there are people that save a level that really don't, you know, they like to eat, they like to experiment, but they really don't love food and what comes across it because food is a conduit for so many different things is just not to nourish, right? Yes, we want it to nourish you just not to make you feel good, but it's a conduit for emotion is a conduit for attention. So what's your intention behind that? Because to me, that sounds like a corn pudding. Right? And, um, you know, there's certain things that I'm not fond of, for example, hummus, you know, I think I should like hummus, I'm continuing to try to eat him,

Chris Spear:

you don't have like, you don't have to like hummus.

April Dubose:

Thank you, thank you so much. But, you know, corn pudding would be one of those things. But I try it, you know, I mean, because I know there's an intention behind that. So I think anything that you love and know that it's you at a certain spot, it's going to hit somebody else, it's going to hit somebody else at that same spot as well, whether they're familiar with it or not, it's going to hit somebody at that spot. And so, you know, that's one of the things I always tell the student is your intention behind it. What's the intention? What do you want to achieve when you prepare that item? Yeah, there's there's certain things that, for example, I used to grew up eating the little Sara Lee oatmeal cream pies. And I love those little oatmeal cream pies. So I said, Well, how can I make one that will remind you of those, but be 100 times better? Yeah,

Chris Spear:

I I look at Jeff's, like, Christina tozi. Isn't that what she's really good at? When you think of like cereal milk? You know, like, who doesn't understand that? I think you just, if people don't even know who she is, or what you're talking about, I think everyone has that idea of like, you've had cereal, and you know, you drink the milk and the milk tastes like the cereal that's been sitting in it for half an hour or whatever. So doing that, where you're kind of tapping into the nostalgia of things, you know, like when you grew up, just like those oatmeal cream? Cookies.

April Dubose:

Mm hmm. Exactly. So yeah, no, I think that's, you know, it sometimes is giving people a peek into who you are inside, you know, and you don't always know how that's going to be received. You know, you know, is that going to be received? Well, but But no, I don't know that there's been at any time where someone has exposed themselves in such a way that I didn't receive it? Well, you know, even if it may have seen a little bit off the beaten path, I still see them like, oh, wow, that's amazing. Because everybody's interpretation is so very different. Right? It's so very different. That's why nobody can make the same thing. The same way. You know, I have a friend who said, don't share, you don't share your chocolate cake recipe. And I'm like, why aren't gonna make it the same way that made it? They are gonna do it.

Chris Spear:

I totally agree with I mean, look at all the chefs now who are putting out their cookbooks with all their recipes. Like you could literally open your own restaurant using their recipes if you wanted. But like, family recipes. Again, I'm from New England. And we have this baked bean recipe, you know, New England baked beans. And forever, I was told you can't share this recipe. So like, my mom would make it at cookouts and things like that. And everyone would ask for the recipe and she wouldn't give it to her. And I was told I could never share it. But now I've put it on my website, my mom passed away. But here's the thing like why why wouldn't you want to bring joy to someone. So now, if I was the only one who had that recipe, I lived down in Maryland, all my relatives in New England, all my parents, friends who grew up with that they all came to cookouts. They love that recipe. What is better than me giving them this recipe and saying, Here's that recipe that you loved so much, I hope you make it and reminds you of my mom, you know, why should I be the only one to have that recipe? It doesn't make sense to me.

April Dubose:

It doesn't but that

Chris Spear:

idea that like we weren't allowed to share our recipes. It just it seems so strange. Like I want to share it with the world. So when I started my business, I think Everything online if your customer or not, if you say, Man, you came to my house and you serve me, whatever, I'd love the recipe for that. Here you go, I email it to them, I put it on my website, like, why why not share it, people are still gonna hire me to cook for them, people are still gonna put their own twists on the recipe and that's fine. In the Condor community, I love seeing people bounce ideas off each other, I actually, there's a number of chefs I go back and forth with and I made another New England specialty grape nut putting a couple weeks ago, and I posted about it. And then a chef took it. And he did his own version. But he added, I think me so to it, and turned it into like a creme brulee and then tagged me on Instagram. And you know, seeing that, like chefs riffing off each other, I think is great. And that wouldn't have started had I not shared what I was working on.

April Dubose:

Exactly, because is anything really new. Now,

Chris Spear:

I mean, there's some really, I do some really weird new stuff, I think, but there's very little that's truly unique.

April Dubose:

Exactly. So at the very least it will inspire somebody to create something often because I use a lot of recipes for inspiration. A lot of times during teaching in column A school, we would have the biggest problem with the pastry, because a lot of the the pastry texts we used the some of the recipes weren't very consistent. So you had to change them. And you know, a student is just starting off that's not so interested in the pastry, and their items are constantly coming out incorrect, that's not going to boost them around now is it? So I would have to go in and take other recipes and tweak it, you know, to the point where I had my own little recipe book, and I just gave it to the students, I really didn't use the text anymore. Because not for the recipes, but because they just weren't, you know, they just weren't consistent. So we, you know, we use these other recipes for inspiration as well. You got to share all that good stuff.

Chris Spear:

So why did you not get into working in the traditional restaurant setting? Why are you not? Why didn't you become a line cook and then up to an executive chef at a restaurant?

Unknown:

Um,

April Dubose:

in a way? That's a good question. I am not sure why I didn't I you know, one of the things is that, you know, as I mentioned before, when I started, I did have younger children. And I was married, and I knew the strain that it puts on relationships and home to do as much, you know, 60 and 70 hours a week. Now I did work long hours. And I did work on the line for a little bit. But it just didn't go in that direction. I can't really give you a I can't pinpoint a reason to why I didn't I think I always wanted to in a way because I wanted to work in those fine dining restaurants. And I wanted to be those that that chef with the tweezers, you know, and it didn't go in that direction in it. You know, because I think that sometimes we we associate our validity to where we were, you know, in a way and myself experience. You know, I can't take away anything from my years of experience. I've loved every little tiny bit of it, regardless of being yelled at. or any of that, right. So I don't know why I didn't go in that direction. But I'm happy for the direction you did go.

Chris Spear:

This is Chefs Without Restaurants. We're all about the chef's who aren't working in restaurants, so no worries there. Yeah, but we I've talked to so many of the guests about this. Sometimes it's imposter syndrome. You know, I think for so long because we weren't talking about all of these other avenues. It was like if you didn't work as a chef in a restaurant, you weren't a real chef, right? Like when people would say to me, oh, what do you do? I'd say I'm a chef, and they get this excited look in their eyes and say really where? And I'd say, well, I've worked for Sodexo at a retirement community. And they're like, oh, and then like, they're they don't want to hear the story. Like they want to hear this story about the chef I worked for in this place I ran and the interesting stuff. I was doing them. I knew we were doing interesting stuff. You know, I'm a real chef, but you you're like, wow, these people are really disappointed that I'm not like the executive chef at some, you know, Michelin restaurant or some fancy place in DC that I'm just cooking for a bunch of old people in a retirement community. You know, and this is the same thing I hear over and over with these people on the show who, you know, work in r&d, or they just do their, their cookbook authors or something like that, you know, they're still real chefs, many of them have gone to culinary school, they just had a different path. So I love highlighting that.

April Dubose:

And that's what's so wonderful about this industry, because there's just not one specific path that you have to go go through and still be a lover of food. Right? There's so many different avenues to enjoying this life of food.

Chris Spear:

And now that restaurants are having a hard time, it seems like a lot of us in the Chefs Without Restaurants community are doing better because we're not dependent on having a brick and mortar, that someone is dictating whether we're open and closed and all these things. You're an r&d chef, you're probably still working. You're a personal chef. Personal chefs have been doing okay, right now, you know, so now now, it doesn't seem to be such a bad time to be a chef for that restaurant.

April Dubose:

Yeah, I never thought about it that way. But yes, it is a wonderful point.

Chris Spear:

Do you have any favorite resources, be at culinary resources or business resources, I would love to find what people are really interested in.

April Dubose:

And resources as far as

Chris Spear:

we know, like, let's say someone's listening to podcasts, and they want to get into food and cooking or have the entrepreneurial bug, what are books you love websites, cooking shows, any any kind of tools that you would like to share?

April Dubose:

Oh, my goodness, a lot of my tools, of course, have lots and lots of things, probably too many. I'm not gonna meet all these bugs, but I have so many books. One of my favorite pastry books would be the CIA's Baking and Pastry book, that any volume, anyone, that pastry book, the formulas are so consistent, each and every single time wonderful, wonderful formulas. That book is awesome. A lot of my resources have been people, more or less people I've known people I've spoke to and bumped information off of. Yeah, as far as entrepreneurship. We've had so many students that have graduated, I think one of my students were actually on your show, but some of the students that have graduated, and that are wonderful entrepreneurs. And I feel as though those are good. Those those people are good resources, because they, they grassroots, they're down there hitting the floor. And they are they've made mistakes, and they're gonna tell you about their mistakes.

Chris Spear:

I want to get all that information from everyone, I want this show to be a real resource to people, whether they're starting their journey, or they're in the middle of it, because I don't think there's enough talk about what went wrong. You know, it's, we share a lot of success stories, but it's like, What do you wish you knew five years ago? What would you do over you know, those kind of things?

April Dubose:

And I think so opening up that the restaurant was easy, but incredibly difficult. I think one of the biggest things that people don't discuss when entrepreneurship is how lonely it is, right? And, and lonely in a way that people really don't understand where you're going, because a lot of people work a nine to five, right? They like the dependability of it. But entrepreneurship is not that way. Right? Not at all. Not at all. You're your own best resource and entrepreneurship. If you're an introvert, it's even more difficult. You know, the, you know, if you have some character flaws in there, that you're working out, how to talk to people, how to present yourself, how to be more confident, you know that you have a skill, you know, but are you confident enough to do it, being able to ask for help. There's so many different downfalls that can happen during entrepreneurship that people don't discuss. And that is okay. That it's okay. If you mess up and a whole bunch of people see that you mess up. It's okay. One of the worst experience that I've had is the restaurant. It was a Saturday and the rest of No, it was a Sunday, actually, Sunday's were one of our busiest days. And several people didn't show up. And it was just two chefs on the line. Right? That's it. The cafe is small. So when we sit, it seats about 28 people and so we can find the proper waitstaff to help us out. Our organization was in the best thing. We're just learning it. We didn't have a POS system, right? So a lot of stuff we're writing down, right. And it was one of the worst days I've ever felt. And I felt like a failure that day. I really did. And I said I'm I won't be able to go back and do this again. But that next week, and then did it again.

Chris Spear:

Right, so good. That's all you can do.

April Dubose:

So all you can do and I just kept thinking about how other people how these people felt about what we put out. Was the food still being translated? Well, you know, And, you know, those are the things that people don't talk about that is a difficult journey and is not for everybody. It is not for everybody, everybody's not going to have a business, that's going to staff five and 600 people, you know, sometimes it's going to be you and two other people, and you can be incredibly successful. But it's really all about building relationships, and about being determined no matter what and about seeking out that help. Right. And it's not just the help could be financial, but there's somebody that's going to split the deal already here, you know, not somebody that's gonna say, Oh, well, you didn't do that. Well, Oh, I didn't think you were gonna last that long.

Chris Spear:

So you gotta surround yourself with the right people. You have to, there's good criticism, constructive feedback, right? But then there's also very negative people out there. And it comes from a number of places a lot of times, because maybe they're upset at themselves that they didn't take the leap that you did, right? Everyone knows one or two of those people who no matter what you do, they're always showing you the downside rise? Yes, definitely.

April Dubose:

Yeah. You gotta surround yourself with those people, because people don't really know they, you know, it's not bad. Not not all the time is that people are being negative, but they don't get it. They don't really understand that, yes, you do have those negative people. But sometimes people just don't get it. Like, like, I was expecting a lot more support. Than then what I received, and I didn't get that support. And it was it made me feel really bad inside. But then I had to think about is that people don't really understand what support looks like all the time. You know, they really don't understand it. And that has to be okay with you. When you go on your entrepreneurship journey, there has to be okay. Because you'll get support in different ways, right, you'll get support. But from those people that you want that support from, it doesn't always come. And it you know, it's just about your perspective on and what that is. So, yeah, it's a hard journey, but it's worth it. But it's a difficult one.

Chris Spear:

I think that is a phenomenal place to leave this for today. I've really enjoyed talking to you. I hope we can do it again. Would you come back on the show at some point?

April Dubose:

Oh, definitely. Chris, you've made this so

Unknown:

easy. I, you know,

Chris Spear:

you had so you have so much to share. And I just love connecting with people in the food business who, you know, have, I want to I want them to share their take on things and I'm so glad I was able to get you on today.

April Dubose:

Thank you so much. I've loved every bit of it.

Chris Spear:

Fantastic. Well, we will get you back on I'm gonna put together an all star lineup of people we really want to do these posts COVID where are they now kind of shows and touch base with people. I have so many guests who I was really excited to have on because they're doing cool things and not that they aren't now but then like by the time we get them on the show COVID hits and their business was closed or something. So we'd still you know, we talked a lot about like, Well what that looks like now. So it's like, okay, we're also going to revisit this somewhere down the road and see like, Oh, well now, you know, six months post that. This is what they're doing.

Unknown:

Yes.

Chris Spear:

Well, thanks again for coming on the show. It was great having you. And to all of our Chefs Without Restaurants listeners, this has been Chris Spear. As always, you can find us at Chefs Without restaurants.com and.org and on all social media platforms. Thanks so much, and have a great day. Thanks for listening to the Chefs Without Restaurants podcast. And if you're interested in being a guest on the show, for sponsoring the show, please let us know. We can be reached at ChefsWithoutrestaurants@gmail.com Thanks so much.