April 26, 2022

Taste Network's Brady Lowe - The Future of Food Events, and the Rise and Fall of Cochon 555

Taste Network's Brady Lowe - The Future of Food Events, and the Rise and Fall of Cochon 555

Today I have Brady Lowe, founder of Taste Network. Started in 2002, he’s currently on a mission to disrupt, and rethink the typical food marketing strategies, forge new online possibilities, and partner with and help promote sustainable, ethical, and delicious food and drinks from around the world. 

You might know Brady from the Cochon 555 events that he put on. But you might not know that he separated from the Cochon 555 brand a couple of years ago, which was one of the things I wanted to talk to him about. Building something that you love, and then letting it go, possibly seeing it go down in flames along the way. But Brady is still going strong with other aspects of Taste Network. 

We talk about the future of the food events industry, and discuss supply chain issues, especially as it related to farms in the early days of Covid. And a few years ago Brady came under fire for posting a racially insensitive photo from one of his events on Cochon’s Instagram page. There was a considerable fallout the days surrounding it, and I wanted to give Brady a couple of minutes to speak on that.


Sponsor- The United States Personal Chef Association
The Covid pandemic has clearly redefined the world of dining. Despite over 110,000 restaurants closing around the country, people still want the ambiance and social connectivity that is so critical to the dining experience. Over the past 27 years, the world of the personal chef has grown in importance to fulfill those dining needs. 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 big upcoming events for USPCA is their annual conference scheduled July 7-10 at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota, FL. Featuring a host of speakers and classes, the conference is a way for chefs to hone their skills and network with like-minded businesspeople. For those who supply the industry, it’s a chance to reach not just decision-makers but the actual buyers of products. 

Contact Angela Prather at aprather@uspca.com
1-800-995-2138 extension 705
https://www.uspca.com/

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Brady Lowe and Taste Network

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Taste Network
Brady's Instagram
DrinkRealSpain.com

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CHEFS WITHOUT RESTAURANTS

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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 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, everyone. After a couple of weeks of mini episodes, I'm back with a full episode this week. Today I have Brady Lowe, founder of taste network. Started in 2002 Taste Networks is a culinary agency focused on live events and international culinary competitions that would educate chefs, media and consumers on the health benefits of eating safe and honestly raised food. He's currently on a mission to disrupt and rethink the typical food marketing strategies, forge new online possibilities, and partner with and help promote sustainable ethical and delicious food and drinks from around the world. Many of you might know Brady from the successful Cochon 555 events that he put on as part of the taste network. Those are some of my favorite culinary events that I've ever attended. And I've had the pleasure to even be a judge at a number of them. Many of you might know and I'm sure quite a few of you don't that Brady separated from the cosine phi phi five brand a couple of years ago. That's actually one of the things I wanted to talk to him about building something you really love and then letting it go possibly seeing it go down in flames along the way. But Brady is still going strong with other aspects of the taste network. We talk about the future of the food events industry, and piggyback on my mini episode from a couple of weeks ago, where I talked about doing things for free and chefs giving away food. And we also discussed supply chain issues, especially as it related to farms and farmers in the early days of COVID. And a few years ago, Brady came under fire for posting a racially insensitive photo from one of his events on the coach on 555 Instagram page. There was a considerable Fallout, the day surrounding that, especially in the Washington DC market where many of the past competitors and champions are of Asian or Asian American descent. I wanted to get Brady a couple of minutes to speak on that now that a number of years have passed. And as always, if you enjoy the show, please share it with your friends and colleagues. And this week's episode will be coming right up after a word from this week's sponsor. COVID has redefined the world of dining. While the pandemic certainly upended the restaurant experience, the personal chef industry experienced record growth. The United States personal chef Association represents nearly 1000 chefs around the US and Canada and even Italy. USPCA provides a strategic backbone 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 and experience along with their meal. USPCA's annual conference is scheduled for July 7 to 10th at the high At Regency in Sarasota, Florida, for those who supply the industry it's a chance to reach decision makers and the actual buyers of products. You SPCA is currently seeking exhibitors. If you're interested in reaching the decision makers and consumer culinary influencers, this is your show. Please get in touch with Angela at 1-800-955-2138 extension 705 for your custom exhibitor package today. This will be the first time back following the COVID lockdowns and chefs are anxious to connect with industry suppliers. And now on with the show. Thanks so much and have a great week. Hey, Brady, how's it going? Thanks so much for coming on the show.

Brady Lowe:

Hey, man, much appreciate the invite. It's been a minute.

Chris Spear:

Yeah, I feel like I haven't seen you since a co Shawn probably in like 2015 16 or something like that.

Brady Lowe:

Andthat is that's probably true.

Chris Spear:

I was doing co Sean's down in the DC area. So my last one was that you had at the Watergate and there was like some crazy PETA protesters who like broke in there, although maybe that happens at all your events.

Unknown:

Now, it's funny that you say that. I wish. You know, it's hard. But yeah, we that happen to the Watergate. And then we had one time in Miami out of all, you know, 12 years that I was running.

Chris Spear:

Oh, that's it? So I was one of the special to events then. Very cool. Very cool.

Unknown:

Yeah. I always thought you called them.

Chris Spear:

No. And I saw a lot of pictures where people like look at that dude with a leather belt on in the in the photos. You know? While jumping right into it, you're the founder of taste network. You've been doing that for what, like a couple decades now.

Unknown:

Yeah, started it in 2002. moved to Atlanta 2000 On New Year's Eve. And then by April 2002. I had started taste network and have been on my own since then.

Chris Spear:

So what's taste network about? Why did you start it? And what's the mission? And then kind of the things that fall under it?

Unknown:

Great question, you know, based network, when I started was kind of a slap your hand on the counter moment, when you realize that there's things that you really appreciate or admire in the industry. You know, it could be events, it could be tastings, educate education, and it just wasn't happening in Atlanta, like how you think it should be done. So I had this really aggressive drinking wine behavior. Because I had just spent two years in the wine industry in Atlanta, really just kind of pounding the pavement up the ladder pretty quickly, selling a lot of really expensive wine, and doing some work in cellars and had a really big, you know, appreciation for, you know, boutique, pricey wine. So I needed to find a place to buy that wine. So I started working at nine to five, from five o'clock on at a wine shop. And basically, that gave me my advice. So as a wine and cheese store. And at that point, what I was working on was a was a directory of how to search wines for the industry. Like when you do wine education, you have to do tasting notes, and where the winemakers from and region notes and vintage notes and you have to pull all this stuff together. So I was working at home, you know, kind of putting this together Am I just realized that, you know, after five o'clock, I need something else to do. So I wanted to start with working in a wine and cheese store. And then I realized that the whole wine and cheese together as a pairing. And what that pairing could mean to somebody for the first time engaging with a wine that was not happening to be world class. But the wine was absolutely amazing. And you have it perfectly fine tune to a piece of cheese. And how you consume those is so detailed as well, that it's just like an out of body experience when it's done. Right. And that's what I wanted to start teaching people. So that was the impetus for and the inspiration for tastes network was to provide people with a first time experience between two products. So taste network was a company about pairings and the pairings always had to be education, educational, meaningful, and of course flavorful. So that's how the whole thing kind of came to be. Now as you take tastes network, you know for the next six years, you know Huh, what happened? There is quite a fun story as well.

Chris Spear:

Well, what happened there? I mean, how, what were the next steps? And did you have this planned out from the start when you started it like, did you see this long term vision or was it kind of taken as it goes?

Unknown:

I was working in a while before taste network was like crystallized, I was working in a, you know, front of house restaurant bar. But I was like, you know, top Steakhouse, and Atlanta chops, I was the bartender. And then I wanted to become the beverage buyer, and they gave it to somebody else. And that was like $2 million beverage program, and I didn't, you know, get it. So I was like, I'm out of the game. And I quit the restaurant industry. At that point, I never left the hospitality industry. And I wanted to become a director of marketing for a winery. So I was working in this wine and cheese shop, had this epiphany moment with this customer and having this cheese and this wine for the first time in their life. And I just slapped my hand on the counter, I was like, This is gonna be it Goddamnit and I chase that down. I figured that people love stories they want to Narrator They want to know where the best chocolate cake is in the world. And what's the best thing to drink with it and cheeses were my go to because a lot of people didn't know about it. So for about six years, seven years, I just did Wine and cheese education. Everywhere I went box, a wine box a cheese. You know, it could be entry level wines and cheeses, well, there's really no actual cheeses. But it was like enjoy, like, you know, 15 to $30 wines, or it could have been 50 to $500 wines paired with cheeses, but the conversation was always the same in front of audience was that, you know, you're in the driver's seat, what you think what you taste matters, not what you see other people like enjoy. And I really found kind of a vernacular and vocabulary to appreciate, for myself a new way of understanding wine and food. Because when you take cheese down to its very bare minimum elements, and then try to rip those apart and then put them back together with wine for a better experience. Once you do that for six years, then food is not really a challenge anymore of like tearing apart the elements. You know, like everything breaks down into salt, fat, sugar, acid textures, complexity, age makes everything richer, funkier crappier. You know, I basically spent, you know, six, seven years. And then, you know, here comes 2008 first crisis that we had to like, kind of swim through.

Chris Spear:

I wasn't a business owner at the time, but I still remember how hard that was. I mean, it seems kind of like forever ago, but it really wasn't that long ago, was it?

Unknown:

No, I mean, if he's looking at it on the heels of, did you? Did you look on the heels of this last pandemic? I don't think so. Because this last pandemic, like, you got to see what businesses pivoted. And I guarantee you, there's a really strong correlation between those who pivoted during eight, nine and 10. And those who pivoted this round, because it creates a whole different type of hunger. But, I mean, people are just smarter with different technology. If you flip the two pandemic, or the two crisis, you know, put pandemic and Oh, eight and this and Oh, nine, I wonder, you know, I think I think we were better equipped in Oh, 809 to deal with supply chain and things like this, or maybe it would have been 10 times worse, I don't know.

Chris Spear:

You think 2008 We would have maybe been a little better.

Unknown:

I don't know, I just think about like what was available and what was accessible. And we didn't have all these chips centers. We didn't have Amazon we didn't have we had more smaller countryside independence. We weren't conglomerate like we weren't consolidated. And I think that consolidation, you know, over the last 12 years really is a technology side effect. So yeah, I think I think we would have probably made there's more people running trucks back then to a lot of different places. I just don't know if the warehouses would have shored up are dried up like they did so quickly. This round,

Chris Spear:

you know, yeah, that makes sense. When you kind of put all your eggs in one basket. If that basket falls, then you're kind of screwed, which is where we're kind of out with some things.

Unknown:

Yeah, I mean, I think that's a great question. You know, I don't even realize it. I've never really explored it before. But that's a good one for like dinner talk, you know, I like what would be different if you flip flop the two crisis from Oh, 809 to 2120 to 21.

Chris Spear:

And you know, so much of the conversation and something that I know you're passionate about was like, small farms, right? Like, when everyone was saying, we can't find any meat at the grocery store, you know, a lot of people are banging the drum of like, have you checked out your local farms, like, they probably have a ton of meat like, this is the time to get to know your farmer, these people in your community who can hopefully provide product, whether it be your restaurant or you at your home?

Unknown:

Yeah, exactly. I mean, we, there's, there was a whole lot of problems. You know, I think you probably have covered it with other guests and stuff. But I had a very unique opportunity to see what was happening as a volume buyer, across the country. Because even though I wasn't selling heritage breed pork, to people and chefs and restaurants, or consequentially, I was trying to establish a supply chain, and a supply chain that was fragmented, and very personnel, very personality driven, as we know. So I had a very good taste for what the industry could vote, like what the volume stood for mean, if you take, you know, 100 restaurants across the country, it was double that or triple just to be safe. And then you add, you know, let's say a pig a week, that's 50 Pigs a week, times 300 times, I mean, you start to look at, like, what those numbers are, if somebody's making a difference in the supply chain. Now, the moment that all those restaurants Shut up, for you know, are shut down for a few minutes, boom, you are completely stopping all of that production of all those farms and all those farmers so when everyone's running around looking for shit tickets, I was like, Where are the like, the farmers are in this shit right now. Like they've, like they're they have animals that they gotta feed, I knew that feed costs was going to be the first creep. So then I started like calling farmers like what's going on? And they're just like, you know, like, we're getting eaten to death, basically. And I was like, alright, well, let's figure out a way to get you products off farm. And, you know, and that's when he started to really see like the IRC, really putting in some energies towards restaurants and get all that component, locked in of like supporting the restaurants, but I didn't really see that trickling down into the farms, all I read was, you know, the forms for me to fill out for eidl and whatnot. The first question was, do you do pornographic? Are you a gambling company? How about a small independent farm, if you're any three of those, you're done, and you can't even fill out money for support from the government, which was completely backwards. So I think things started to materialize, and, you know, get better for the farmers. You know, I think it was definitely a really like, tough time to see. I mean, I didn't have time to call 70 farmers that I knew across the country, all I could do is put emails out and just be like, you know, here's a couple of different ways to try to like get people to mobilize or do something. I created a whole supply chain, you know, got on found a developer created the pathway created our use of our restaurant as a channel for funneling food from farms, we shut down and just for worked on, you know, access for people to get food from farms. So, and it worked. And then everything just kind of started opening back up and everyone goes back to normal, you know,

Chris Spear:

normal, right? We're all supposed to be right, right back to normal. Well, so you're doing we started with wine and cheese, right? And we kind of jumped right into farm. So where's the connection there? Like how did you really get involved with farms, the passion for local farms, and especially like heritage breed pigs.

Unknown:

The 2009 2008 real estate crisis comes play. All my private business dries up. And that point, I was like, alright, well, let me take what I have on the road. So I designed a heritage breed pork competition, and the first name of it. Do you have any idea what it was? I doubt it was called a muse. Coach, Sean. Really? I did not know that. Yeah, so I was like, oh, it's cute. It's got to amuse the pig. You know, I got all these people out here. Joy. Love it. Edom. Like it's like an immune boost to kiss the pig you know, to kiss the face. And nobody could pronounce it. And after I got a fun little cease and desist from Heidi Barrett from Screaming Eagle because they had a lion called amuse boosh, it was a whole fun story, I changed it because Shawn 505. And at that point, it was the national competition. We span the country really quick, out of my pivot in the 2008 2009 2008, we started crush on and we took it, you know, for a 10 city tour. Within that first year, we teamed up with food Wired magazine to host like a grand crush on at the classic, which was huge, because I had gone a couple of times. And now I'm like, presenting on the biggest one of the biggest events on the days, you know, on the on the Sunday when everyone has the day off. So we've got shock poopin and Andrew Zimmern coming through I mean, it was it was cool. And then you go across the country for 10 years. And you know, we built a really amazing network of people who do really amazing things, food chefs, people who are starting out now run empires or have moved on to a completely different shade of business. You know, I mean, we're, we're really blessed. And then things took a shitty turn. That's what you want to know, right?

Chris Spear:

Well, you know, for all of our listeners who don't know, they might not know what the event is, I've been to the event. I've also had the fortune of judging the event. But you know, is the way I would say it is you brought together five chefs with five heritage breed pigs coming from five amazing farms, and then pairing them with five wineries, which then turned into also, later on cocktail competitions, cheese, just like tons of food butchering demos, which was amazing. And I think my first event was probably like, 2010 or so and went through 2015 I think I've judged like six of them, which was really awesome. And I did you know, co Shan BBQ in DC, I drove up to Philly for like, I think you call that epic or something? There. So I've been to a number of these events. And what I have to say is like one, I was able to network with chefs like I've never before, like I moved to the DC area didn't know anyone. And that people that I've met and have continued to stay in touch with because of those events is amazing, right. But two, I think the big thing is really connecting chefs and the public with these local farms and farmers, like I'm still serving autumn olive pork on my menu to my customers today. And like building that relationship with clay. Through that event, you know that you brought these farmers to these events and could highlight their products and let chefs highlight them. You know, guys like Andrew crush, like, I've gotten to know all these farmers in this area, and every year, really reaching out the people that Catoctin Mountain Farm, you know, like, so I've become really good friends with a lot of these people, because of an event like this, I hope that that's kind of translated over through hundreds of 1000s of people across the country, because I think it was an amazing thing to do.

Unknown:

I you know, and I agree, and I think that you say it, you know, very nicely and I appreciate it, it's like, it's sometimes hard for me to remember how many people came together. But I mean, it'd be 500 600 people on event, you know, and 10 to 30 times a year across the country, in all major markets. And I just for me, I just remember like, connecting, you know, I'd see a really good friend, and I'd be like, you guys don't know each other, like, how does this happen? Like, the universe stops, you know, like to put you two together and a lot of people are still together to this day and friends. And, you know, I think it's, I think that's really what the, you know, relationship equity is really about. So if I ever were to think that, you know, if there's good things out there that have been done is putting a face to heritage breed pork, in the culinary community, and making it feel wholesome and real and meaningful. And taking care of each other and having a heart where, you know, nothing that was existed. I mean, we literally created a virtual peg to go across the country and people began to follow. Now, I always knew that everything kind of has its what do you call its, its chapter, expiration date. Yeah. And you know, nothing can live forever. You want it to, you know, I looked at my, my wife to Now Heather, and, you know, she was on tour with me for seven, eight years. And, you know, it was it was a buster, you know, I mean, it's a lot of work. And, you know, are am I going to travel around with my kids all the time? And are we ever going to have a family and you know, all this kind of stuff. So I was kind of giving up the things that I wanted to of course today now I'm married, but we still don't have kids. And I think the idea is that you want to see something memorialized And as long as memorializes in your view, then it can work. And I had some offers from people across the way who wanted to partner or buy part into cosign for my five because it was successful. You know, it wasn't a huge moneymaker. But it definitely has potential and growth. And, you know, any business in the right ecosystem can thrive in any business in the wrong way your system can die. So what happened was, we teamed up with a group, and, you know, they just, it was the proverbial carrot dangling in front of the head. And I was like, the most important thing is that, that this goes on and becomes what it's supposed to be. And I, you know, if I get hit by a bus, and anybody with any business, if you get hit by the bus, you want your bus to keep, you know, you want your business to keep going on. And literally, the moment that I signed, I realized that it was the wrong signature, the wrong group, the wrong people, they the promises weren't fulfilled, they were just not good. They were the soul was, you know, flashy at the parking lot, but not, you know, the engine wasn't sound. And for the next few years, I just literally put my head on my pillow, and couldn't my figure out what to do or how to do it. And then I realized that, first and foremost, I had to get my family out. And then that I shifted out. I mean, at that point, I had lost all my investments that I put into it. promises were not being kept farmers and chefs were calling me for payments that weren't being made. It just turned into such a shit show. And it was sad, you know, I mean, I really put trust into people, and they really, you know, kind of violated, what, in my opinion was was a promise, and it happens everywhere. But you also learn lessons out of stuff like this, which, from pain goes, you know, grows muscle. And, you know, I think I understand the way that business should operate the way that people say what they're supposed to do, and you know, and do something different. And I think that was one thing that I hope that if anybody looked at what coach on fire five, did, or was about the best compliment that I ever got was that we did what we said we were going to do, and there was no surprises when you came to the event. The event was what it was supposed to be, and we didn't bullshit you and tell you one thing, and then you show up, but there's no power and anything like that. I mean, we all know those events. And that was the detail, you know, the detail was to take care of chefs and farmers and hospitality in the moment that I saw that was not the number one priority was the moment that I left. So that is kind of the the skinny on, you know why I depart in 2019. Amazingly, there is still a lot of traffic in my inbox because of our ongoing dealings with them. And we'll just leave it at that, we'll see what happens. But, you know, they definitely don't like me sharing my opinions in the outer space.

Chris Spear:

Yeah, I've seen some things out on the interwebs, which, you know, I'm sure people don't even know, which is why, you know, hopefully through this podcast, I'm sure there are still people who think you're affiliated with them. From an event standpoint, I'll say like, food events can be a total mess, right? But I have never seen anyone go hungry at this event, or wait, and a ridiculously long law, you know, like, sometimes you do these things, and you're in line at a table for like an hour, and you pay a couple 100 bucks, and you get like three bites. Like, even, you know, I don't think at any of these events I've ever seen that be the case.

Unknown:

Yeah, you know, I mean, that was, that's where I left it, you know, and anything since 2000. I mean, really, the first part of 2019 was just, I couldn't believe some of the stuff that was passing, you know, I mean, it's just like, it's like being a chef on a line and just watching things happen that you're just like, you know, and your partner is going to cut costs, cut costs, do it cheaper, do it cheaper, and you're like, No, that's not the way this runs, like, you got to invest in the people you know, I mean, and it's it's hard. I mean, that's why I think every business you should put 20% back of what you make right back into the system and it doesn't have to be identified how when and where but you just got to put it back. Otherwise people know that you don't support or you don't want to you know, and it was a very unique place and like you've seen some stuff on my like social add in, you know, it's hard, like, it's hard to write and post and put it out there. Like, my sister comes to me and she worked on tour. And she's like, it just hurts me so much that you have to put that out there. She's like, I just don't know if you should do it, you shouldn't like, post your feelings like that. And I'm like, You know what, what's really harder is when a chef or a farmer doesn't know that I'm involved with them, and then they, and they don't read it. And then they get involved, and they get burned. And then they come to me, and they think I'm still involved. And that is really hard, because then I didn't have the chance to tell them personally, that I'm not involved. And I've told you, I've sent the emails I've said, you know, I've told people that it's not there, but they somehow people still getting information that I'm around. So I don't know how that works. But it's that's the hard part. So yeah, you got to put it out there. So people don't get, you know, caught in the shitstorm.

Chris Spear:

So hard lessons learned, but I'm sure you took it and use that to kind of move on. So what other events? I know, you've got a few new and exciting events, what have you been doing since coach on

Unknown:

taste networks never gone anywhere, you know, basically, I created and sold part of what I think is one of my best culinary event cycles ever, you know, and one thing that I think believes very much in the industry has a good face. And we basically started with three new events that things that I wanted to do, like really do but didn't, you know, at first I had to get away from the problem before I can start my new problems. So I wanted to do that I wanted to open a restaurant in Atlanta, I had an idea and a vision for this place. So we did that. So I opened a restaurant did a big Super Bowl party in Atlanta in 2019. Open the restaurant in late 2019. And then came pandemic, I had three new event concepts that we're going to launch one was global one was fish, a serious fish sustainability, focused, and Pandemic just shut everything. Like if you want to, you know, I love everybody in this. I know how hard it was. But when your restaurant goes down, and all your events go, I mean, I had there was nothing like so I just sat back and tried to figure out how I can help what I could do. And then we started to really look at taste network as an agency. I mean, we've had hundreds and hundreds of sponsors and partners and marketing agency agreements, campaigns, I've bought media like. So my marketing background is pretty firm with taste network. And so we basically bolstered it up and we went after a client with a really good friend of mine, Pablo, la from New York. And we basically we got a really amazing wine client to wine regions in Spain. And we have now basically almost a year in, and this first year campaign really focused on a education awareness platform to for two prestigious wine regions in Spain. And we're trying to figure out what is going to be our, you know, our next big client. And we're launching a website within on February 1 called Drink real spain.com Which is pretty cool, which is a marketplace for wine collections, virtual, you know, tastings, really good wines where, you know, we've got an event called Fish House Live, which we did a couple of events. We took it to Aspen food and wine last year. So we did that hotel Jerome. So it was nice to be back there during the classic. We did an event in Miami at one hotel or one. Yeah, one hotel South Beach. So we're, you know, we're really buddies with them. So yeah, I mean, you know, business is good. We're very fortunate. We just launched like, over the holidays, I you know, I had a couple of days and I'm just a, you know, a goofball for Santa and decoration. So we went, we started a thing called Santa speakeasy, which is another like, written program for like chefs and hospitality to say like, you know, do you have that like little back room that you could just put a really nice table in for 10. Get someone to come in there, spend 1500 hours and decorations put a speaker in there and just turn it into like the over the top? speakeasy. Like think of it like if Santa and Mrs. Claus. We're just gonna throw down a dinner party, like do it right, and charge what you need to charge. And we booked that like 20 times this year at my friend's restaurant, so it was a little bump for them. You know, it kept me busy during the haul De season and gave people a little bit more, you know, hope and cheer? And of course, a little bit more booze.

Chris Spear:

Yeah, that sounds fun. We need more of that. Yeah. So

Unknown:

we've, we've been busy. You know, there's no, there's no shortage of creativity and alcohol in the world.

Chris Spear:

What do you think the future is of food events? Like, how much has the food world changed? You know, would a coach on today the way you want it work? Like, have you thought about, you know, the dynamics of not only on a production side, but like, consumers? Like, is that something they want? Or chefs? Do chefs want to do these events? You know, often you hear about chefs doing events, because they feel like they have to, and they're not getting compensated or whatever. But like, is this a model that's still going to work going into the future? Doing kind of those, you know, come pay a couple 100 bucks, and there's gonna be a bunch of chefs here giving you food? What do you think about that?

Unknown:

It's a really good question. And I think it's a, it's a behavioral muscle, muscle, like muscle behavior that we have, as we like to be in the room and what the events and like, we want to have those bites, and people are going to do it. But there's really nothing there to really retake like to really replace it just yet. But I don't know, I just, I mean, I tell buddies, I see him I even on the roster, you know, events, I'm just like, we got to sort out if it's worth your time or not. And I think just a lot of friends and folks in the industry, at this point, don't understand the value of their time, as it relates to their family, their health, their business. And I, you know, there's a chefs who are out there, I was like, Holy shit, I can't believe you can do 30 events a month, and everything around you is just like clockwork, and smooth and operational, you know, or tentative answer, you're on the road, 10 days, or 20 days out of the year, and you're right, you're five restaurants are just humming, that's a sign of really unique skill sets. And I think people really need to, you know, look at the value of their time. So my suggestion and what I feel is happening, for me, just for like, friends, etc, is I'm like, I want to touch things right now, unless you know that you're gonna get paid, you know, like, you're gonna get paid, or it's actually going to be a win, or it's something that you just really want to do, because you're going to be with the person that you want to hang out with. And sometimes you have to do something was you have to go somewhere with somebody to do like, hang out with them. Like, if I want to see if I go to a restaurant, I want my chef bunny to be there, when I go and eat, you know, if they're not there, then I might figure like, well, I'd rather go eat somewhere else where somebody else's to see him, you know, and I think that's a similar, you know, muscle behavior that we have with like events is, if you know it's going to be fun, or it's going to be good, and you're going to be able to hang out with, you know, a few bros or besties that night, then it's, it's like the kind of cost of doing business. So the pandemic has definitely put a different feel on germs and how people look at food. So all processes gotta be tighter. I think all chefs should start to be fully paid like to be at events. I mean, I haven't pitched events, you know, that doesn't fully make sense. And there has to be some kind of financial or, you know, mutual benefit. And I don't think marketing is really helping anybody right now. You know, marketing is not keeping the lights on when people aren't coming in through the restaurant, you know. So if you're, you know, doing a big thing, and I think if people want to spend that time doing events, like do your own events, and figure out how to do that, but I just I don't see the event industry, how it is in the lower, you know, 15 to $50 ticket with ticket food tickets type of thing and long lines, I just don't see how that's going to survive, what will survive are the higher dollar exclusive, going and spending 500 hours a night to go do something and do it right. And it becomes an experience, you know, and people are going to, you know, they're not going to want to they're going to want to have their freedom when they're there.

Chris Spear:

Well, that's one of the first topics we talked about. When I started this show. A year and a half ago, we had a local event and it's still ongoing and it's one of these things where they are selling these, you know, $50 tickets to the public, but they're soliciting all these chefs in the area, all the restaurants for free food. And it's like you need to provide like 400 Free plates, right and like you're not getting paid at all. And it's like these people not only have to do that, but they have to prep for days in advance. They're gonna have to shut down they're out. BREAKING like they're asking a food truck to come like if you're having a food truck come like that's their only business. So they're closed completely for the day. They're giving out 400 portions of food for free for what? For exposure, like, get out of here. And I had a bunch of chef friends like floored me this email and said, like, what do you think? Should I do it? I was like, No. And I actually wrote an email to the organizer, and they pushed back on me like I was the devil for questioning them. I said, like, pay people for their time. They said, well, we want to keep it affordable. I'm like, affordable for who? You know, is it affordable for your chefs like and restaurant tours? Like you say this is to support local business, but like people go to those events don't remember right? Like they come in, they want to drink all the wine they can all the beer they can and just like What's this a meatball? Great, and they shove it in their mouth and they go on what's this a piece of pizza? Great, and they shove it in their mouth and they move on? Like, that's not exposure or marketing. Those people in two weeks aren't gonna say I had the best meatball at this $35 ticketed event. I just don't see it.

Unknown:

No, I think those those days, I mean, at least it I don't know if it's an evolution for us. I mean, are the 20 and 28 something and 31 Somethings are theirs? Is it still cool for them? And that's like they haven't had that experience yet? And will there always be is an itch in those marketplace? Yeah. Has our evolution of our palates, our refinement of who our chef buddies are or what we appreciate what we call a restaurant, is it different from them? Absolutely. You know, I mean, we just have a different spoon, I think then, you know, general, you know, the general populace. And if this is really the end of, you know, the pandemic, then, you know, the the memory muscle can bounce back to shape, will it be different? Yeah, because the businesses who were counting on liquid to lips, or x, you know, like putting products in front of people for exposure, I think they have found those unique ways to do things now. And they've kind of like shifted in the industry. So those dollars are going to be used and allocated to different ways of reaching, which are going to have depletion attached to them, not just giving shit away for free. So the whole giving shit away for free thing is, is limited. And, you know, I mean, then you're talking about, so there's no sponsors to pay for the event. The ticket buyers are paying for the event means the producers of the event or clearing the most money, managing money and then not paying it to the food, because that should be one of the more expensive elements. But if it's one of the cheaper then they're trying to get that for free. They're trying to get the chef's for free. Well, how does this all work out to be anything of quality and content? I mean, we sniff it out as bullshit. But it looks fun, because it has a boombox. And, you know, a kitten as the logo, like, I'm gonna go to that that sounds like a party. You know, I mean, I, I mean, I watch it even with, you know, my, my, Cather will be like, That's a cute, that's a cool event. Let's let's look at that. Like, it's just because it's well branded. And yeah, so I don't know, man. It's a good question. I think. I think we're just in an exercise mode right now, with my cow pandemic really became I think we got a really good test phase. I don't think the real thing has even happened yet. You know, I think it's gonna be two years. And it's something really harsh, and I hope I hope not. But I feel like someone's really going to just like, lock us in the house for like, six months, and hope not. Yeah. Right. But I feel like, you know, we've got a target on our backs. The global economy has a target on its back, you know, but it's a it's a real world right now. You know, like, I don't know, I think the events, the events that we tried to do and stuff was like, well distributed, everybody got something out of it. And there's small, you know, like, 30 person. Those are, those are, those are real numbers, you know, and I think that's how things should be approached. And, you know, because if you can't make it work for 30, you're definitely gonna make it work for 100. And it's definitely going to break at 300. So the thing is that breaker just quality and the longevity of what you have, I think we were at a really unique place at the right time.

Chris Spear:

Are you someone who sets goals? And if so, do you have goals like what is the rest of the year look like? I know, we're just kind of at the beginning, but do you have plans for this year to change anything?

Unknown:

Yeah, I mean, right now it's to stabilize business and get things Smooth, I think that's really an important element, we have a good amount of business, it's a lot of business to manage, but I want to, like, I'm a process guy. So, stabilization is one, surround ourselves with good people who do great work to, and scale, you know, I just, well, we always figure out as process should be successful and sustainable process and, you know, in trying to teach people that not only that work with me or for me, but find people who are doing things that are friends and get in the conversations with them that kind of like the MO is just to, like, just continue to help people, like just understand that, you know, people, okay, I got this contract, or this people are trying to do this, fuck me out of this. So that I'm like, dude, I'll help you. Like, just let me know, like, I'm at your disposal, you know? And it's always been like, how can you help someone else out with the knowledge that you have so stable? I mean, I've never had to worry about business. I mean, we've just always tried to take care of people. And I think that, I think just continue to do that and kind of scale, what we're doing now. I felt like I was kind of on that other side for so many years of creating events and benefit of wealth for exposure and marketing and trade. And it was a win win. I mean, I don't think there was anybody on the sides who were like, you know, saying it was, it was completely lopsided. That was the goal is to make it a win win for everybody. But now I'm on the other side, where we get to decide how can we support independence? Where do we spend our where do we spend money that can support a win win for our clients, and put money in places where it counts, and the people who have been around and, you know, a little bit here and there can help? You know, I mean, I've been on the restaurant side, I mean, a couple grand, you know, five spot here, that stuff can help, you know, it can pay rent for a month, and you can, you know, it just does. So we're trying to make sure that we stay on the side of the business of like, how can we support the restaurant industry support independent retailers support the conversation of like, artists and, you know, and local? So, you know, it's, it's, you know, it's a long winded question, but oh, boy, you know, it makes sense.

Chris Spear:

No, I mean, going back to like, the cosign days, it always just seems like you really wanted to support the makers, the producers, the, the restaurants, you know, and that's what I think we need more of, and not just our industry, but all of it like less exploitative, pneus, and more like, you know, we can build something together, work together, and both kind of raise each other up, right?

Unknown:

If you work together and collaborate, the ship will go in the right direction. You know, it's a great point to be is to always try to, like, not always be on a take, you gotta, like, you gotta give to take, and, you know, the next year, what will the what will be the big win? Right now, it's just like, trying to get this fire hose out of my face. And, you know, put in the pool and invite over some friends and see how we can get everyone like relaxing together and really get this, like, the balance, you know, of business in our favor. Because, you know, it's, it's an interesting here, I think.

Chris Spear:

I do have a question for you. And we don't have to go here. But I know, we're five years past now. There was some like, stuff on Instagram that I feel like, you know, maybe, you know, photos posted event that I think you caught a lot of flack for like, have you reflected back on that, like, because especially DC like being a DC guy like the DC chefs? Like I think really, I mean, Eric burner, Yang wrote an article and like the Washington Post about it, like, do you think about that, like did that have an impact at all?

Unknown:

You know, it was at the time it was really hard because, you know, I grew up in Iowa and you know, I mean, I've always felt that there's a ton of entitlement in the white people and like, the way that they treat people like in the south and I always hated despise the south and like, it just it just always caught me like really, like off guard, like, how people are treated because of skin color. And, you know, and I always felt that I was like the guy who stood up for people in a room, you know, so to be put into a slot and realize that I've had an impact on people that were my friends who I cared about. Really kind of struck me hard, you know, and to have conversations with them and to catch up with them and see like, how hard they have it and what people go through in life. And then yeah, I mean, it, it was a hard reflection, you know, because I just realized I could never stop doing enough in the heart, the one that got me was like, with all of the hatred that was coming along with the pandemic, and the way that people were treating and like, I that just, it just blows my mind. Like, I literally, like, if I see that kind of behavior, I just, like, scream at somebody on the street, and just, you know, it's just so intolerable. So, you know, I was humbled and glad that I had the opportunity to, like, speak and, and hear from some of my friends who would explain to me like, you know, like, having a chat with him and just seeing like, you know, just saying, I'm sorry, like, I didn't, should have been in the in the situation ever, you know,

Chris Spear:

we're all people we all grow, right, like, you try and learn from those things. But I, you know, I believe it's really easy to write some off someone off over like, one thing one time, right. And that's why I just kind of wanted to ask you about that, because that must have been really hard. I mean, there was

Unknown:

there was a couple of people that I lost a relationship with, but, you know, everyone else I've talked and we, we work through things and, you know, and yeah, I think it's a it's part of life, you know, like, you learn and go through it. And it's, you know, it's not easy living in the South. There's a lot of shitty people here. But I like that.

Chris Spear:

Well, thanks so much for coming on the show. I really appreciate having you. I'm glad we could kind of make this happen. And it's been great catching up with you.

Unknown:

Yeah, man. It's been great. I'm glad that we finally put the time together and sorry for being so elusive. Well, you know, I think if you want to check things out, I mean, of course, follow tastes network. You know, we've definitely got a Facebook page and a website taste network.com. You know, the other component is the wine regions are Ribera del Duero are WETA. And that's the Rovira way to wine.com. You know, and I'll just keep you kind of in you know, in loop of what we're doing fish house, we'll come back a lot of fun projects this year. So, you know, just kind of, I always put something out on my social media page, because, you know, Heather, Heather gets mad at me because I put something on my like personal Instagram, but that's the only place that people follow me. So that's the way it works. Yeah. And

Chris Spear:

I put everything in show notes. So there'll be links, people know where to find you and we'll get the word out. Cool. All right, buddy. Awesome. 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.