This week I have a short episode with chef Steven Lash, owner of Blue Duck personal chef service. If you haven't heard our full episode yet, you can go back and listen to Episode 107. I really enjoyed that one, and we received a lot of positive feedback.
After the outro, I kept recording, and we continued our conversation, which is what you will hear in this episode. We talk about culinary school and education, microgreens, and the foods that Steven won't eat. He shared advice for those looking to start a business, and we discuss who he thinks is underrated in the food world. Let us know what you think. We'd love the feedback.
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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. They' e caterers, research che s, personal chefs cookbook autho s, food truckers, farmers, cott ge bakers, and all sorts of culinary renegades. I mys lf fall into the personal c ef category as I started my wn personal chef business perf ct little bites 11 years ago. nd while I started working in kitchens in the early 90s, I ve literally never worked i a restaurant. This week, I hav a short episode with Chef Ste en Lash. He's the owner of Blue uck personal chef service. If you haven't heard his full epi ode yet, you can hear him on epi ode 107. I really loved hat episode, and we received ome fantastic feedback from it. Stevens shares tactical ad ice for those looking to sta t a personal chef business. Du ing the show, I knew we were run ing a little long, so I wante to split it up a bit. After the outro I kept recording an we continued the conversation So here we talked about culi ary school and education microgr ens and the food Steven doesn't ike to eat. He has some quick ad ice for those looking to sta t a business and we discuss wh he thinks is underrated in the ood world. It might not be who you think. And we'd love it. If you supported the Chefs Wit out Restaurants, podcast and community. There are a few ays to help. First, if you ha e a business or product, w 're always looking for sponsors. You can also support our exis ing sponsors like savory jobs If you shop on Amazon, we have our own affiliate link, or be ike cool kids Matt Collins and Justin Khanna and cons der joining our Patreon. If not ing else, it would be great if you subscribe to the show, rate it and reviewed it and maybe s are your favorite episodes on so ial media. The links to all t ese things are in the show note as usual. The support m ans everything to me. And now here's a word from this week's sponsor Savory Jobs. Are you shocked at what it costs to post a job ad? Instead, imagine a job site for restaurants only where you could post as many jobs as you wanted. And it only costs 50 bucks. Not for each job you post. But for all the jobs you post for an entire year. Well, my sponsor savory jobs has made that a reality. They've launched a revolutionary easy to use job site just for restaurants. And it only costs $50 for unlimited job posts for an entire year. Plus, for our loyal listeners use the code savory10 and get 10% off. So go to savory jobs calm and discover the job site that's shaking up the restaurant industry. Forget the big corporate sites like indeed and monster during the revolution at savory jobs calm and remember to use code savory, 10 for 10% off. And now on with the show. Thanks so much and have a great week. I just want to throw some extra kind of like Bonus questions out there. Can we keep the conversation going for a couple minutes?Steven Lash:
Just a couple things that I want to find out from you. Did you go to culinary school at all? Or did you learn it all on the fly?Steven Lash:
I did not.Chris Spear:
Did you ever think it was something that you should have done?Steven Lash:
Yes. Actually, this go around. When I when I first kind of kick this off. It's funny you asked me that because I was having this conversation just this morning. I feel like there's a lot of gaps in my knowledge. You know, I've learned a ton of stuff on on the job over the years and through experience, but there's a lot of gaps, you know, so literally, this is kind of one of those things I tell myself all the time, right? Literally I was in a conversation with somebody this morning and we looked up the proper way to pronounce charcuterie. And I'm hoping I got it right still but itChris Spear:
was like there a different way to pronounce charcuterie was wrong.Steven Lash:
Or shooters or some shit like that, you know? But it's like little things like that, that I've noticed that you know when I especially when I get into have conversations with people. And as I'm out there cooking and I get, you know, people, they look at me as an expert, right? And so they asked me all these questions and it's like, I don't know a lot of different stuff about cheese's, you know, or wines, I don't drink. So I don't, I don't really know much about wine. And I get asked about parents all the time. And, you know, so I got to kind of, I gotta kind of fake it sometimes. But there's a lot of little gaps in there that I noticed that I thought very seriously last year about going to culinary school and like, just to fill that in and kind of round it out, but I didn't do it.Chris Spear:
So do you foresee that that's something you do? Or are you maybe thinking about like just kind of diving in more because you can learn so much online? Like I'm a big fan of YouTube videos, kind of reading things like if you just want to learn about charcuterie. There's plenty of places to learn about charcuterie on the internet, you know, as an example, or wine pairings, or you know, exactly said like I took a butchery class, I went and did like a three day butchery class because I really wanted to improve my skill on that.Steven Lash:
Yeah, University of Google. So books, I still love books. You know, I love cookbooks. And so, you know, but yeah, that's kind of where I landed because I looked at it. What was it like, quote on blue, or something like that? Right? And it was like, $30,000. And I'm like, I don't have the money or the time. So I'm like, I Oh, cool. Next Best Thing. I want to learn about charcuterie. All right, I'm gonna go Google that for a while. I'm gonna watch YouTube videos, I'm gonna learn about it. You know, I wanted to got interested in molecular gastronomy. So I got like, ordered a kit from Amazon from like, you know, the modernist pantry. Yeah. So, you know, a couple of weeks ago, I was at the farmers market. And the girl I was with was like, you know, we were talking and I was like, there's all this stuff that I haven't really played with. So we're just kind of having fun with it. And she picked out a few ingredients that I had never worked with before. And it was like, Alright, cool. So now I'm going to go learn something about them. And I'm going to make something with them, you know, and it was like, I don't even know what the hell we had a pork belly was one. I've been wanting to play with it anyway. So pork belly dragon fruit, cactus pears and like, beef bacon or something.Chris Spear:
Oh, I saw did you do like a sorbet trio or something? ISteven Lash:
did. And that's exactly why Yeah, you know, so that's where that came from. I played with it a couple of other ways. And then I was like, Alright, well, I'll try a sorbet. Part of that was because I just bought a little ice cream maker. And so I want to be able to, you know, I'm going to try it out with taking an ice cream maker to my events and try and make ice cream on the fly. But yeah, that's, that's,Chris Spear:
that's a tough one. But I get you know, if you've got everything ready to go and spin it out, you'll you'll maybe be okay. I love making ice cream at home. So if you have any questions, I'm not a master. But I love my ice cream maker. And I make ice cream all the time. Who's the unsung badass in the industry? Like, are there people that you love that you don't think people know about? Like, who are some chefs, maybe locally, but even on the national level? Like, there's so many chefs out there. And I feel like we keep hearing about the same, you know, two dozen chefs,Steven Lash:
honestly, you know, like some of the best food that I've ever had comes from, there's a gas station, like near me where there's a little like, restaurant attached to like a little el salvadorian restaurant or something. And they serve up all kinds of different stuff. And it's amazing, man, it is like so good. Or, you know, you go to the farmers market and like there's this little old lady sitting there making tamales and stuff. You know, that's the kind of stuff they like, really pumps me up.Chris Spear:
So the underrated people are just like the mom and pops and the people out there grinding it out.Steven Lash:
Hell yeah. You know, I've got a friend of mine, his wife is from Taiwan. And I go over to his house and she'll be cooking up something and, and it is like, it smells amazing. It tastes amazing. It's not, she's not classically trained, nothing like that. But it's just like, I want to go cook with her. And I've asked her and she's all intimidated because like, I'm a chef or whatever, but she won't do it. But I'm like, I want to come in and just learn from you. You know, like, those are the people that really excite me, you know, like the grandmas in the in the, you know, the folks that are just doing it because they just cook and they're feeding their families or whatever. But some of the most amazing stuff comes out of that.Chris Spear:
We got a restaurant in town. We're going there tonight because we have friends in town and it's called jerk and jive. And it's a you know, jerk place and it's like, we're gonna get fried fish and we're gonna get plantations and their greens and you know, it's nothing fancy but the flavors are awesome. Best chicken lands in the city like their jerk wings with their sauce, best wings in the city. I mean, it's not like a Buffalo Wing, but we love them. And you know, to me, that's where we would rather go and I think people when they say where do you like to eat? They're expecting me to you know, mentioned this like fancy Frou Frou places like no, we're going to eat there. We're going to go to the Thai place like that's what I'm eating in my time off.Steven Lash:
Oh yeah, I love I love me some lowbrow food man. And that's, that's part of the fun and that's part of kind of what my, you know, my thing is like you take these home dishes, you take these, you know, kind of everyday things and then how do I make that look and you know, elevate it and you know, do some cool different ingredients, maybe or whatever, but trying to keep the spirit of what that is still and do something else with it. But man, I will take that any day over some stuffy, you know, perfectly placed, you know, microgreen on a plate.Chris Spear:
You know what I mean? If we go down the micro green route, this is gonna be a long conversation, I think on the micro greens like I, okay, who seconds, like, they can taste good, but for the price, like I get why, but like, when you look at like, $35 a pound for some, like, microgreen like, I like herbs, I feel like you can buy a bunch of dill for $1. And get as much if not more culinary impact out of that as like, some micro oregano or something that's like $35 a pound, like just buy a bunch of dill, buy a bunch of regular oregano, you know, like, you know, not everyone needs to have, you know, baby right veined sorrel on their plate, like, put something that's really gonna give you some impact,Steven Lash:
I feel you, but I am definitely at one with the micro greens. I love them. You know, and it's a well for a while there. And unfortunately, I think the guy's not doing any more. But like, literally 10 minutes up the road for me, was the guy that was kind of starting off a little micro green farm. And so we worked out something and I could get great product from him, you know, and so I would hit him up regularly, you know, and go go get them. And I think they look fantastic. I try and be somewhat sparing on how to use them. But you know, I also try and be intentional with it. You know, you don't want to just throw microgreens on everything, but I just what I think is happening a lot. Yeah, they're easy. It's a crutch. You know, at the same time, I can take a green onion, and do a really thin slice on a bias and it'll be just as pretty on a plate and serve a purpose. You know, so I buy scallions every week. Yeah, that's probably one of my gotchas. There's usually scallions, shallots, and you know, I can do the same thing, you know, shave some shallots, really, really thin. And but you know, it's, and I'm sure you can appreciate this. What's in the supermarket? I'm limited. You know, and my, you know, I'm close enough to Atlanta that I can go get a lot but I have to drive pretty far to do it. So if I'm right around here, then it's kind of hit and miss on what some of that stuff looks like, you know, oh, I'mChris Spear:
with you. I mean, I think that is one of the big challenges is if you're a personal chef, and you shop retail, getting all those products, not always the easiest time. Well, what what food items do you hate? Like, what Won't you eat?Steven Lash:
I can tell you right now just I'm going to get a look for this. Olives. I don't dig olives. And I know those are one of those things that as a chef I'm supposed to love. But I know you're not supposed to just don't. I just don't dig them. Yeah,Chris Spear:
I don't love oysters. And that's one of those things as a chef you're really supposed to love. Like, I've had some really good oysters. And I think I haven't just found like, the varietals necessarily, but they're not like, not something I really dig. And especially being a chef, you go to friends, restaurants, and I always want to like send you some oyster dishes like I do not want that if you're going to cost me a dish. Don't make me the oysters.Steven Lash:
Yeah, I can I can definitely leave those tager leave them I'll probably leave those. Now I have I took a trip to Seattle and had some real fresh oil, like local oysters. You know, Ron, and actually, I enjoyed those. But I grew up with my mom making this like oysters stuffing every year for Thanksgiving. And she used like canned oysters or some shit like that. And it was nasty,Chris Spear:
hard pass. Yeah, well, give me one bit of amazing advice for someone who is looking to start a business. It doesn't have to be a personal chef business. But like, what's one thing that everyone really should think about or know before they get into doing their own thing,Steven Lash:
commit, commit and take the leap. Because if you have acid, and you kind of, you know, test the waters, I don't think you're gonna find out what you can really do. And the biggest I give you, you know, context on that I had to when I started this, and I dicked around and I thought about it for years and years and years, and I didn't really ever do anything with it. And it wasn't until I absolutely had to, because I didn't have anything else going on that I threw myself into it. And it worked. But I would say if I you know if you're if you're thinking about doing a business or starting your own business, take the leap, you know, take the leap and commit. That would probably be the the one thing and then second to that. stay humble and be willing to learn because you'll learn a lot of different ways. Easy way the hard way.Chris Spear:
I would agree with those great advice. Well, thanks to All our listeners who joined this has been my follow up bonus content from my episode with Steven lash and his episode is number 107. So go check that out to listen to our whole conversation. 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 Chefs Without firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks so much.