June 7, 2022

On Not Identifying as a Chef - What is a Chef with Sara Hauman

On Not Identifying as a Chef - What is a Chef with Sara Hauman

This week's "What is a Chef" mini-episode is with Sara Hauman, You might know her as the yogurt queen from season 18 of Bravo's Top Chef, or the owner of The Tiny Fish Co. You can find last week's full episode with her here.

Sponsor- The United States Personal Chef Association
While the pandemic certainly upended the restaurant experience, it provided an avenue for personal chefs to close that dining gap.  Central to all of that is the United States Personal Chef Association. Representing nearly 1,000 chefs around the US and Canada, USPCA provides a strategic backbone for those chefs that includes liability insurance, training, communications, certification, and more. 

One of the upcoming events for USPCA is their annual conference scheduled for July 7-10 at the Hyatt Regency in Sarasota, FL. Featuring speakers and classes, the conference allows chefs to hone their skills and network with like-minded business people, and is open to all chefs in the industry.

For those who supply the industry, it’s a chance to reach decision-makers and the buyers of products. Chefs Without Restaurants listeners can use promo code CWR50 to save $50 on registration. Please contact Angela at aprather@uspca.com for information on becoming a member, attending the conferences, or exhibiting. 

Sponsor- Vosteed Knives

Are you looking for top quality kitchen knives for dad this Father’s Day? Well, look no further than Vosteed. With over two decades of experience, Vosteed knives are durable, well-balanced and comfortable to use. You’ll find that these knives have a razor sharp edge, robust and strong full-tang construction, and perfectly engineered ergonomics. These high carbon steel blades will definitely get the job done in the kitchen.  

Right now, you can use discount code VOSTEED15 to get 15% off your order. Go to the Vosteed store on Amazon to order yours now. Check out the Vosteed website, Instagram page and Facebook group.

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Sara Hauman

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 Sara's Instagram
Sara's Website

The Tiny Fish Co Instagram

The Tiny Fish Co Website
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Founder Chris Spear’s personal chef business Perfect Little Bites

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. Their caterers research chefs, personal chefs cookbook authors, food truckers, farmers, cottage bakers, and all sorts of culinary renegades. I myself fall into the personal chef category as I started my own personal chef business perfect little bites 11 years ago. And while I started working in kitchens in the early 90s, I've literally never worked in a restaurant. What's up everyone, this is Chris with another one of our what is the chef many episodes. On last week's episode we had Chef Sarah Hauman, she was a contestant on last season's Top Chef season 18 in Portland, she recently started her own tinned fish company called The Tiny Fish Co. And we had what I thought was a really great conversation, there was so much of our conversation that I even had to cut out, which is why I pulled the what is a chef segment, as I often do, so that could kind of be a little standalone piece there. As you might know, it's something I'm talking about a lot this season with people, I just want to get a feel for what everyone thinks a chef is, especially since most of my guests don't work in a traditional restaurant setting. So, you know, again, we've framed so much of what a chef is around people working in restaurants. So this is a quick little episode, a mini episode, if you will, where I asked her the question and you know, we'll get into what she thinks a chef is. If you want to weigh in on the topic, let me know you can send me a DM on Instagram at Chefs Without Restaurants or you can shoot me an email at chefs without restaurants@gmail.com. As always, I hope you enjoy the episode and it will be coming right up after word from this week's sponsor. Are you looking for top quality kitchen knives for dad this Father's Day? Well look no further than Vosteed. With over two decades of experience. Vosteed knives are durable, well balanced and comfortable to use. You'll find that these knives have a razor sharp edge, robust and strong full tank construction and perfectly engineered ergonomics. These high carbon steel blades will definitely get the job done in the kitchen. And right now you can use discount code vosteed15 to get 15% off your order. And as always, the links are in the show notes. Over the past 27 years, the world of the personal chef has grown in importance to fulfill the dining needs of consumers. While the pandemic certainly upended the restaurant experience, it provided an avenue for personal chefs to close that dining gap. Central to all of that is the United States personal chef Association, representing nearly 1000 chefs around the US and Canada and even Italy. USPCA provides a strategic backbone for those chefs that includes liability insurance, training, communications, certification and more. It's a reassurance to consumers that the chef coming into their home is prepared to offer them an experience along with their meal. One of the big upcoming events for the US SPCA is their annual conference scheduled for July 7 through 10th at the Hyatt Regency in Sarasota, Florida. Featuring a host of speakers and classes. The conference allows chefs to hone their skills and network with like minded business people and is open to all shifts in the industry. For those who supply the industry, it's a chance to reach decision makers and the actual buyers of products. This will be the first time back following the COVID lockdowns and the chefs are anxious to connect. And right now Chefs Without Restaurants listeners can use promo code CWR50. To save $50 on registration, please contact Angela at aprather@uspca.com For information on becoming a member attending the conference or exhibiting. And as always, all this info will be in the show notes. And now on with the show. Thanks so much for listening and have a great week. Well, one question that I've been asking everyone this season is what does it mean to you to be a chef like that's a word that's been out there for so long and I feel like it's evolving. So how would you describe who is a chef and what a chef is?

Sara Hauman:

Ah, man, I think for me You know, again, I don't consider myself a chef. Because I think personally, a chef is a leader of a team, and don't have a team to have a team, like outsource my team. But I believe a good chef isn't necessarily the best cook doesn't necessarily make the best food, but can arrange the best team to then make the best dish. It's more about people and less about food. But in that in that respect, a chef is also a CEO, you know, what's this the EDA, it's, it's someone who can find the strengths in certain people, and arrange those people together to make something mind blowing. That's what I think.

Chris Spear:

So youdon't identify as a chef, then you identify as a cook, and other I guess entrepreneur now?

Sara Hauman:

Yes, right. Now, I wouldn't say that I'm a chef, I don't think you need to have a restaurant to be a chef. By any means. I do think you need to have a team. And, you know, aces in their places, some might say, but you gotta you got to put the chess pieces in the right spot. And being a really great chef is being that person who can find those people and put those places in the best spot. You know, you talk to any sous chef, Chef de Cuisine in the industry, the chef doesn't cook food, the chef never cooks food. But the chef finds the people to work together. And the chef finds the Chef de Cuisine, who he's able to push their buttons and inspire them to create. I just think it's no different. It's a little different. For sure, those who can't do teach, right?

Chris Spear:

I spent a lot of money to learn how to become a chef, because I love cooking to realize that I was no longer cooking. And it's like, oh, that kind of sucks. Like, that's why I had to start my own business. Like I was just I moved up so far that it's like, oh, I'm basically an admin person and a food service department, like I'm hiring and firing and doing evals and going to board meetings and like, all this other stuff that I hate, like, I'm not an office be I am not like, sit down at a computer for eight hours. 10 hours guy like, I want to be cooking. And I always had GM saying like, Hey, I know you're late on like doing those employee evals go get them done. You can't be out here cooking. It's like I can't I'd like today cannot be the day I just can't go sit in the office today. Like I hate it.

Sara Hauman:

That's why, you know, for me, I had such a hard time coming up in the industry is because I, I didn't want to be a chef. I didn't want to be sous chef. I was happy doing the job that I was doing. I was happy making delicious food. And sure I had a creative spark that I wanted to like, let out at a certain point. But I didn't want to do the normal chef stuff. I wanted to just cook food. And I think that's why I am very, very grateful that I actually listens to myself and didn't decide to partner with anyone on opening a restaurant as a chef owner, because I think I would be absolutely miserable. Because I don't like that's not what I want to do. You know, I've always wanted to make a product because for me, you know, I have control over that one recipe. Absolutely. But it's just, it's, it's different. For me, like I just never, if I'm going to do the business side of things, like let's do the business. I don't want to trudge in this gray area, like I'm a chef and like kind of come in and like fuck around with food a little bit. I don't want to do that. If I'm a business lady, I'm a business lady. Like I said, all or nothing.

Chris Spear:

I walked the middle ground, you know, it's like and be uncomfortable with saying like, you know, I still tell people I'm a chef. I mean, I'm a personal chef, right? But like, as things have grown, especially food media, it's like I'm spending as much time sometimes more on like the podcast and the community and developing courses and consulting. Like some would say like, you don't cook enough to be a chef. And it's like, I would even be okay with that. Like, because we identifies our career so often, which I think can be problematic. And I'm trying to change that a little bit when people say like, what do you do with like, in the context of what you want? Like, are you asking what my profession is since like, we're always identify like you meet a stranger. It's like, Hi, I'm so and so it's like, what do you do? It's like the first question is like, Oh, we're gonna jump right into that. I don't know like, you wanted to me have read my bio like, I'll send you a media kit.

Sara Hauman:

I think that's another obviously going unchecked Sarah, I'm gonna reach up there for all but I don't like that and I was very reluctant you Now it really wasn't until I hired PR people to tell me what to do quite honestly, until I changed my instagram name and changed my email and did all that stuff because I just don't, I don't want to be just defined as a chef. And I think that's where having the student loans and everything kind of like it culminated for me and I, I know that I'm capable of much more than whatever the chef title mean means to other people. Like, I personally know that being a chef means business and logistics and all these things, but I think people use that term. No, you know, normal people outside of the industry. They're like, Oh, your shaft. That's amazing. You know, even when you are cooking, you go, like, talk to your parents friends to like, your chef, and you're like, No, I'm just a cook, and they don't understand. I don't want to be pigeonholed but

Chris Spear:

I imagine the disappointment when you tell them you don't work in a restaurant, because that's something I've dealt with. It's like people that get that wide. I know, like, pretty quick. It's like I cook, I'm a catering I, you know, I part. Like I cook at a retirement community, like I worked in a retirement community for 10 years. And it's like, we did really cool stuff. We were buying, like heritage breed pigs that we were butchering, I was doing Suvi, I built a cocktail program, we're making our own vinegar, but like, nobody realized how cool it was. And it's like, you couldn't convince them because they want to hear that I like worked at some famous place. And I live in Frederick, Maryland, where Bryan Voltaggio is here. someone's like, Have you ever worked at volt? No. Do you know Brian? Yes. What's he like? It's like, do you really want to hear what Brian's let you know, like, what, that's what people's expectations were? And it's like, no, I'm doing something totally different.

Sara Hauman:

It is the celebrity thing is theirs. And I don't know, I feel like producing a product and starting a company is very much more me than being the chef of a restaurant. I don't think that me and honestly, I don't, I don't get joy out of that and might be a little bit different. If I own the place, as opposed to being the chef who doesn't own the place. I completely acknowledge that. But I think one thing the pandemic taught me was you have to diversify. And if something like this can ravage the industry that I work in, I need to be able to have different skills. And I'm kind of just doing the backwards dance of what chefs usually do. You usually open your own restaurant, whatever successful, then you make, you know, your sauce line or spices or whatever. I'm just going the other way around.

Chris Spear:

I've done the same like I quit my comfortable corporate job to start my business at a time when it was flipped. Like a lot of people start out younger and then they kind of like retire like I'm gonna go cook at a retirement community until I'm 60. It's like, I did that when I was younger. It's like, No, I want to start my own business. Like I want to close out my years. I mean, hopefully not. Hopefully, I saw a lot of good years, but I was just like, No, I needed that time to like learn how a business operated, you know? Yeah, go to chefs without restaurants.org To find our Facebook group, mailing list and check database. The community is free to join. You'll get gig opportunities, advice on building and growing your business and you'll never miss an episode of our podcast. Have a great week.