Story #059 – Dennis Littley

NAME: Dennis Littley

CULINARY SCHOOL AFFILIATION: Culinary Apprenticeship / Culinary Educator

PHOTO:

Chef Dennis Littley in blue chef coat

BIO:

Chef Dennis Littley started cooking at a very early age and drew his early inspiration from Graham Kerr, the Galloping Gourmet. After completing his training as a chef’s apprentice, he went on to work at white tablecloth restaurants, in corporate executive dining, and finally at an all-girls Catholic high school. After 3 years at the school, he created a Culinary Training Program that brought acclaim to the school and was used as a model for other schools around the country via the foodservice company he worked for.
After retiring from professional cooking, Dennis became a food blogger, where he would become known as Chef Dennis by his fans and readers worldwide. He has expanded that content creator role into a food & travel blogger, a chef speaker, a brand ambassador, and a digital strategist. This past year his blog had over 8.5 million page views with over one million followers on social media.
A native Texan who lived most of his life in the Philadelphia area, Chef Dennis now resides in Kissimmee, Florida with his wife Lisa. He credits an old family friend Mama Jeanette with teaching him his core values and how to listen to food. His goal is to share his recipes and the best cooking tips to make his listeners feel more comfortable in their own kitchens and to help them find the joy of cooking!

Contact Info / Social Media:

Website – https://www.askchefdennis.com

Email – dennis@askchefdennis.com

Instagram – http://www.instagram.com/askchefdennis

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Episode Transcript

welcome to another episode of culinary
school stories the weekly podcast that
is dedicated to sharing the stories of
people around the globe whose lives have
been influenced impacted touched and or
enriched for good or for bad from their
culinary school experience hi my name is
colin roach and i’m your host thanks for
joining us today you are an important
part of this show where we ask the
question what’s your culinary school
story so now without any further delay
let’s meet today’s guest
hello and welcome to another episode of
the culinary school stories podcast a
proud member of the food media network
this is your first time joining us today
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sure to check it out at
www.culinaryschoolstories.com
so now without any further delay i would
like to introduce today’s guest was a
great story to share with all of us a
retired chef and culinary educator he
was classically trained as a chef’s
apprentice and spent his academic
pursuits studying food science
since retiring he now spends his time as
a food and travel blogger and brand
ambassador creating content for his fans
and readers worldwide
he currently has over one million
followers on social media and his blog
gets eight and a half million page views
per year
with that said it is my pleasure to
welcome chef dennis litley to the show
dennis thanks for joining us today well
thank you so much for having me colin i
really appreciate the opportunity to
talk to your listeners great great so
let’s jump right into it now i know you
first started cooking at a very young
age and that graham kerr the galloping
gourmet was a big inspiration but maybe
you can start there and tell us about
when you first knew food and cooking was
going to be your career and how your
family friend mama jeannette influenced
that decision well it’s it’s kind of a
long story going back you know my first
food memory was of me putting frozen
waffles in a toaster that wasn’t plugged
in
and i know i had to climb up on a little
stool to do it and i couldn’t have been
more than about three but i think right
then i knew that if i could make my own
food i could eat so that would that
connected it but my mother was a nurse
and she would work nights and be so she
would be home during the day and that
meant she would sleep through lunch
during the summers or if i was off from
school and didn’t want to wake her up so
that’s when i started getting into
cooking on my own and you know as a
little round boy at that age i certainly
love to eat and uh coming from a uh
mexican-american background i had been
spoiled by my mexican grandmother who
would just feed me till i would burst
and
that was kind of where i i got my love
for food i think from her
and
my creative juices started flowing when
i started cooking and seeing you know
this isn’t rocket science this is about
you know even back then i know it was
about just putting some flavors together
that tasted good
and that would you know be satisfying
so i think at that age whether i
subconsciously knew it or whether i
realized it
i knew that cooking was something i
could do i tried a lot of things over
the years but nothing ever felt quite as
familiar or quite as satisfying as
cooking
and so when did you decide like oh i
should go to maybe get some education in
this some academics was that like high
school and most had people happen or was
it after the fact you know i took kind
of a longer route around that and
i did some wandering and that’s when i
ran into a mama jeanette uh early on in
my career and she kind of had an impact
on me and i think the greatest gift she
gave me was she had told me you need to
listen to food she used to call me
stunning boy shoes
sonny boy you need to listen to food and
if you listen to it it will tell you
what it needs
and that you know some people look at
you go okay you know what have you been
smoking and i’m like no you know
seriously you know and that’s kind of
been if i had any gifts in culinary that
was what i had i was i would look at
something and know what seasoning it
needed or know what another uh vegetable
or other add-on i could put in there to
make it come alive
that’s what kind of really guided me
through most of my culinary career so
her bringing that out of me
and teaching me to be a little more
adventurous at eating i think is what
drove me further
in
and opening my mind up to being creative
that’s great advice you gave you know
where did you come across mama jeanette
she found me asleep on a um
on a park bench
and said she’d been waiting for me
really yeah it was kind of a it’s a long
very interesting story
and i said yeah you know i’ve been
waiting for she had a cup of coffee
and i didn’t know who she was and it
turned out that she was from louisiana i
had been bored at louisiana and knew my
parents you know so
from when she had her restaurant and
they would go into the restaurant and uh
it’s a little bit of whether you want to
believe it or not a little bit of a
psychic connection there and um
spent some time with her and really
got through a rough spot in my life and
i came back
and when i started working again the
person that i was working for was just
simply brilliant i was in a nursing home
and she had been the food service
director at the university of
pennsylvania
and she had been the head of the
dietitians at the university of
pennsylvania she had her training at the
mayo clinic and she was retired so she
was looking for some place to work a few
hours so she could buy her grandchildren
some things
and just by
luck of the cards i ended up working
with her and she taught me so much
and again how to get a lot more out of
myself than i thought was possible wow
so these early influences on you had it
you know sounds like a big impact on
food and the love of food and cooking
yeah and then did you then go to school
for you decide okay now i really want to
pursue this that’s when i went to school
okay where did you go and how did you
pick the school that you did well it was
close by it was easy to go to they had a
somewhat culinary program there it’s
atlanta community college and now my
parents actually paid for it because
again i wasn’t in a great place but
it wasn’t super expensive and it was the
first time my life i ever applied myself
in school and i ended up with a 4.0
on the president’s list carrying seven
classes and working full-time
so it was it was another milestone in my
movement my career and while i was at
that nursing home
one of my sales people you know i was
about done you know as as a chef
my tenure at places was usually five
years was a sweet spot after that it
kind of could go in bad directions just
because i was bored
um people got tired of my
overwhelming attitude sometimes i might
like to say
but i uh the guy said you know this
guy’s looking for someone to work in his
kitchen doesn’t pay anything
uh you can learn a lot he’s got you know
the cia trained chef this big german
chef and him and himself and he was very
knowledgeable
i went over there and started and the
first day i worked there i went in and
at the end of the shift i said bob i
wish i’d been more help and he looked at
me and said yeah i do too
so
i knew
i knew that was a good place to be he
was honest you know and i figured as
long as i really worked hard i would
learn a lot and that’s really where i
rounded out my education
i was done with the book learning type
stuff and now this was practical and it
was learning how to work in
severe situations i’d like to say
because we had a ceiling that was about
four inches taller than me
and it was small it was cramped uh it
was just i learned how to curse there
pretty much
you know and then learned later on at
another restaurant that that really
wasn’t appropriate i stopped
um
so it was a real big life lesson but it
made me appreciate
just what was inside of me and what i
could bring out when i cooked and when i
cooked it felt like magic it felt like
something was really happening uh it was
my happy place that no matter how bad my
day had been no matter what was going on
in my life i could escape to this happy
place and i could make other people
happy and i was being fulfilled that’s
great sounds like this apprenticeship
you had with this chef was more of a or
turned into more of a more like a
mentorship right he really had that
influence on you absolutely he was a
very stern when i first met him i think
he was you know a big a big man and very
stern and
dennis do you know how to clean ducks
and i grabbed a can of comet and scrub
brush and said of course i do norman
where are they
you know and i kind of wore him down um
and and he was just a really really
great guy but he was trying to be more
stern than he really was and we became
best of friends and he taught me a lot
and just watching the owner he did not
that he spent much time talking but he
actually became more of a mentor
throughout the rest of my life cooking
and
when i hit a bad spot i would go see him
and talk to him and
communicate and i ended up going back to
his restaurant like i’d be in a bad spot
for a while and i need a job and he’d
hire me just about any time
you know
you know he goes what’s going on now you
want to come back for a while yes i do
thank you
he was there even after you had left
then he was in your life right yeah
great sounds like a good good guy good
story um so what did you do after that
now you’ve got that training you’re
going to branch off you’re going to go
into your your own
restaurants your own
businesses to run but you know the grass
is always greener
i see the salesman come in not sweating
dressed nicely
happy and i thought you know boy i
should do that i should go over to the
other side well
that didn’t work out you know it’s
always greener until you you get all the
other things that are put on to you
because of that and uh but i did learn a
lot selling food too and i learned more
how to communicate and how to uh
what other chefs were really looking for
so it broadened my horizon from this
you know one restaurant that i had
pretty much been working at to seeing
all these different styles of
restaurants all these different types of
chefs cooks
uh
restaurant owners who were just doing
the best they can and then i found i
could offer them some help you know not
necessarily all the really talented
french chefs that i was selling to but
uh sometimes you know they’d ask me
dennis what do you think about this or
how can you do this so it opened up my
mind the possibilities of of talking
with other professionals and seeing that
you know we really can’t help each other
it’s not about it’s not cutthroat it’s
not about you know who can do better
than the other person it’s it’s about
collaboration and i think that’s when i
first started to realize that you know
a competitor is not necessarily a
competitor it’s it’s your could be your
best friend if you let it you know and i
would end up becoming friends with some
of these chefs and talking to them
throughout my career at different things
and they’d move to different restaurants
so i’d come sell them there
and uh things just it changed my
perspective on the process i guess on
the cooking process so again it was
another learning experience for me it’s
great and then at some point you
transitioned into teaching right yeah
how did that happen where along the path
did you say i need to do this
well you know after another stint in the
restaurant back with the same family um
after i i developed carpal tunnel in
both hands
and
i i tore a hamstring carrying this huge
pot of sauce and not letting it spill
when i lunged forward it popped
so i was starting to become a little bit
of a mess
so i did had two surgeries on my hands
and uh doctor said you really shouldn’t
do this anymore so i went into a
management company i went to work for um
sodexo at that point and i actually was
wood dining services later became sodexo
and and i started managing more than
cooking
and
as things would have it you know i’m
working at a unit there and
uh i kind of i was feeding 5000 people a
day you know i was responsible i wasn’t
feeling i had a chef i had a catering
director we were doing a million dollars
in catering on the busy months and i was
like
just trying to run all this and
coordinate it and keep everything going
and i had cia trained chefs some from
johnson and wales there and you know
very talented people i had a chef walk
in for a job who had cooked for kings
and he was retired and his wife had
kicked him out of the house and said you
just need to go do something
and uh werner and he was you know after
it took a while because he never said a
word when i got to know him he says yes
i cooked for this crown prince i cooked
for this king i cooked for this person
it’s like wow
so i had all these people and after
about
a year there i had burned out completely
and they sent me to another smaller unit
where i could kind of recuperate which
is where i had sent all my employees
that kind of burned out
and when i was there in my shirt and
ties standing around there just kind of
trying not to drool because i was so
overworked and beat up
so one employee i’d sit there said come
to the kitchen and make yourself useful
and she scared me so i went okay
so i went back into the kitchen and i
started cooking again it was in a very
small
kitchen they used to get all their food
delivered and i said i can’t do that i
have to start making it all making it
all and i drove the sales up about 600
percent from the time i started cooking
over the next three months
in this small unit and kind of blew it
out and then it was like i’m back you
know i’m cook i can cook and i’m back
and that kind of got me back to cooking
again
and then that led to my second carpal
tunnel surgery
which i needed and i said all right i’ve
got to stop this and i ended up at the
school
a friend of mine my district manager had
moved and i called him and said where
are you oh i’m with a compass group now
i got a job for you in flower town
and i went i’m not going to flower town
you know he goes no no no go and it
turned out to be flower isn’t bread
flour i was thinking flowers and you
know a daisy and i said wow this really
is prophetic in some way and the school
was
old and not really well maintained and
just it was just wasn’t a good situation
it was a school for girls yes all girls
well for 600 high school girls and
i looked at it and i’m going i don’t
know about this
and the principal says and you work 161
days a year and i went when would you
like me to start
as soon as she told me how little i had
to work and the length of the day i was
like i can do this so i spent the next
few years transforming the kitchen in
the school and cleaning it up and
replacing items and making it bring it
into the modern times
the girls it was a love-hate
relationship because they had never
eaten that good and eaten real food you
know they were used to just chicken
fingers and french fries and then we
went well well of course we’ll still
have that but we’re going to have
chicken marsala we’re going to have
sushi we’re going to have roasted
vegetables we’re gonna have you know all
these wonderful things on the salad bar
yeah and the the girls ended up painting
a mural of me on the wall in the
cafeteria the art class and it was like
wow then they they dedicated it to me
too it was like it was really blew my
mind wow and uh at that point i decided
you know i need to
start teaching my own staff because i’d
have functions
and anybody that’s ever hired temps know
it can go one of two ways and it’s
usually the bad way
and i said let me start training my own
staff so i i started a culinary program
and i had 60 girls sign up the first
year
and they ended up with 11 actually at
the end of the year 10 of them were
freshmen one was a sophomore because all
the older girls just couldn’t fit it
into their schedule they just were so
busy all of them went to college it was
100 of them went to college uh they
weren’t all well to do there was a
mixture of you know just blue collar
workers and then you know some that were
well to do from the area
uh but i ended up with these 10 11 girls
they didn’t know what i was doing they
just said dennis is not causing any
problems he’s a good guy
the girls love him we’re not even gonna
worry about what he’s doing so at the
end of the year we had our big function
and i told him i said all right
everybody wear black pants black shoes
wear a t-shirt i’ll give you a jacket
i’ll show you how to wear the apron so
you look really cool not even working
but so you look good and i dressed them
all up and walked them out into this big
function and you could have heard a pin
drop
and it was like wow
really you know and i’ve had a lot of
fun with them over the year teaching
them how to make things you know those
girls they were sponges just soaking up
everything i had to say you know and
everything we would make we were making
bread we were making you know salad
dressings we were sauteing dishes we
were baking desserts we were just having
a good time
and and eating and just love and they
were like oh my god look at all the food
we get to eat you know it’s just and
then other girls that were there would
come in to see if there was anything
left after class you know have anything
left so you know we’d feed them and it
it just kind of was a real happy time
and
after four years of running the class i
finally ended up leaving through a
series of more injuries to my body just
beating up my body
and i’d had three of the girls for the
whole four years
and i think the the biggest highlight of
my career in teaching
was
we had a re-evaluation of the school and
i was really really sick when these
people came to reevaluate the school and
we had a function of course so my girls
set the room made all the food with me
sitting in the office just trying not to
die
click serve the food cleared the room
and they gave us a point of excellence
there were two points of excellence that
year for the school one was the robotics
team and one was the culinary class
that’s great yeah so what was the
some of the most rewarding you know
moments that you had that besides things
like this this excellence i mean just
having that impact on the girls and
changing their lives that that was it
you know and it was never about and i
was told it’s not about i i don’t want
you to go to culinary school if you do
that’s great but that’s not why i’m
doing this
i want you to see that there’s nothing
magical about cooking it’s not rock one
of my favorite sayings is it’s not
rocket science and and hearing them say
that to the the new girls when they were
teaching you know was like wow that’s
funny uh but just i wanted them to be
able to feed their families i wanted
them to see that you know they don’t
have to order out they don’t have to
to uh get ready to made food i mean that
all has this time and a place and i i’m
never speaking about buying something
ready to eat you know that’s that’s it
happens it’s just part of life right but
you know i wanted you to see that you
know you can cook you can have fun you
can bring your significant other into
the kitchen you can bring your kids into
the kitchen and in fact the president of
the of the club actually went on to
start teaching younger children how to
cook and it’s just like she got so
inspired i’m like this is what i’m
talking about right right you know it’s
not about you know i created this
wonderful magnificent chef who opened a
restaurant which would be great too but
this is what i was trying to do and when
i started my blog that was the
philosophy i carried across through it
to teach people that food is not
something that is difficult to master or
it’s not something that you can’t create
in your own home
it’s just a matter of learning some tips
and tricks that as restaurant chefs or
as professional chefs that we take for
granted right right so would you ever go
into teaching again is that something
that you know he got the bug then got
inspired or that was a one-time thing
you know i i thought about it when we
moved to florida there’s actually a
really
a really great place here the rosen
school for business and he has a
culinary program uh man it’s just
amazing the things he’s done to help the
community and help people
and uh i thought about says you know
chefs know they know how to i don’t ever
want to go back to cooking again to
teaching cooking again that’s just i’m
kind of tired
but i said they need to know how to do
social media they need to know how to
set pictures i mean even if it’s just
taking them with their phone they need
to know how to do live videos really
quick from their restaurants you know
hey this is what i’m making today
come by and tell them to ask ask for the
chef and i’ll send something out to you
you know just to learn how to really
work their business because
business has changed how we run
restaurants and how we sell food
has completely changed over the years of
social media and it’s no longer about
you know ads in the paper or
uh it’s word of mouth still but it’s a
different kind of word of mouth it’s
it’s word-of-mouth be your images on
social media how the food looked are now
even with tick tock you know these again
it’s very short bites of what are you
doing what can i see what can i you know
what can i do for you uh just being more
of a personality larger than life kind
of a thing to draw people in yeah that’s
that’s key today and when i was teaching
i had at johnson wales i
started an elective class called media
training for the culinary student just
for those reasons you mentioned because
it’s no longer back of the house the
chef people want to see the chef they
want you out front and
you’re going to be doing farmers markets
or maybe local news or you know maybe
you got to promote some classes or
training you need to be the face of the
kitchen so you need to know how to do
social media and you know blogging’s
where you start a podcast whether you do
a youtube channel whether you give
lessons i mean all of that’s packaged
and it’s just necessary today oh it is
it is like i said it’s it’s it’s moved
forward in a way that really makes me
feel proud to be part of the culinary
community i love the open kitchen
concept you know we’ve gone from being a
very guarded you know like honestly in
the beginning of my career you asked me
for a recipe you might as well ask for
one of my children you’re getting you
know but now you know when i started
blogging i was like of course i’ll give
it to you and then please you have to do
it this way you have to do this step
this is the little secret this is the
magic touch that i had at the end i know
it’s not going to be quite as good as i
make it you know and the chefs out there
know it’s not going to be the same but i
wanted to get as close as humanly
possible so you know that that builds
another layer of bond you know with this
restaurant with this chef with the
community and you know again take some
of the
uh mysticism out of cooking you know
again it’s it’s food it’s food it’s very
simple common ground that we all share
right well like you mentioned that
course would be uh i think a big hit and
needed so if it ever comes to fruition
i’d love to collaborate with oh
absolutely i’m just here in florida too
a little south of you so you know we
could team up and do something like that
i’m all in for that because people need
to know that today yeah i think in the
world now you know i had not committed
to it when i thought of it because it
just was going to seem like it was going
to take too much of my time and it
wasn’t so much the class but it was
getting to the class and getting back
from the class and knowing me how much
extra time i would sit there just
talking to the students because i i love
to interact with younger people it just
i’ve done some stuff at ucf i’ve taught
some classes over there
and on be a one force and uh just being
there just really re reinvigorates you
you know makes you feel happy and to be
part of the future that’s coming so you
never know you know maybe online would
be a way to go about doing it too yes so
true so let’s transition into your blog
so you’ve got you’re retired and then
yeah we’re just talking about social
media now so at what point did you you
know grab on and say i’m all in and
start cooking classes blogs getting that
fan base tell us about that how it came
to to be what it is today that was
really another kind of i don’t know
right place right time kind of thing or
just got lucky it was
i had started the blog as a resource for
my students i wanted them to have some
place to go to ask me questions to when
i post recipes to talk about what we did
in class and none of them wanted any of
that they just wanted to come to my
office and talk to me
but other students at the school and
teachers at the school started going
there and i started
i joined a blogging organization
and it really gave me exposure worldwide
i mean i was no stretch of the
imagination a big blogger but it gave me
access to bloggers all over the world
and i started making friends and
again seeing
how different foods were prepared and
again it was another reinvigoration of
my career at that point and that really
led to me blogging more and when i did
write retire from the school and we
moved to florida i had more time to
spend
and about the year i think we moved
google plus started and it was a love
hate thing people loved it and people
hated it you know there was no middle
middle space on that
but i had like found my people i i was
there and i was just loving it and i was
laughing and listening to music and
sharing recipes
and
my blog was still pretty new then so it
wasn’t like i was very big blogger and
for some reason
i was i got approached by this guy who
wanted to run culinary classes online
and it was like wow this is
revolutionary this is amazing this is
gonna i want to be able to quit my day
job this is incredible and we started
teaching these classes but the sad fact
was people don’t want to pay for it if
they can get it on youtube for free
and that’s kind of what a lot of it
turned out to be you know i have done a
lot of classes afterwards and you know
you hit some successes here there but
and time wise in what you make
and the time involved in it you know
because i’d have to set up the studio in
the kitchen i’d get the computers up i’d
get the lights up i’d get everything
prepped i’d have to get everything going
you’d have to have something cooked
already you have to be making when you
have to have almost like three steps of
it done for this quick class you’re
doing this one hour or 45 minute class
and it was a lot of work
for just a couple hundred dollars and oh
my god
i think i’ll pass on this from now on
but it gave me the experience
and put me in front of google and the
next thing i know from doing these these
hangouts
these classes are from people around the
world
uh google noticed me and they had me on
their follow page with with rachel ray
anthony bourdain martha stewart amber
lagasse chef dennis and i’m going how
the hell did this happen wow so on
google plus i had over 1 million
followers
wow because i was actually using their
product as they intended it to so i was
one of the chefs they featured because
those other chefs had pages but they
were just run by their their pr
departments or different things
but i was actually doing what they
wanted me to do
so that was the beginning every other
social media i was late to the game
facebook twitter i was late to the game
but google plus gave me that push and
then i started building my other social
media accounts
um pinterest you know first time
pinterest sent me an invitation i
thought it was a joke or
uh spam so i deleted it and then i was
begging for another invitation
but just learning how to use the social
media at that point because of google
plus i had friends all around the world
and this is where collaboration really
comes in
you know you never know i had this one
guy message me and i i thought he was a
middle eastern person from his name and
it was just another one of these people
on google it was just gonna like go
bother me and stuff and it turned out to
be one of my best friends he lives in
italy and i’ve gone to see him a few
times and we
we just talked a little while before i
talk to him three or four times a week
regularly
but i met people like this all around
the world that were willing to give me
their time to ask some questions whether
it was about seo
uh whether it was about food photography
whether it was about you know another
style of cooking or another aspect of
blogging
that they were just willing to help so i
built this network
of people you know around the world
that were
were there for me and i ran the first
act i actually ran the first online
conference in 2013 that was ever held i
told google i said this is what i’m
going to do in there because google
would call me and the first time they
called me i was like ed grimley running
around the houses google’s going to call
me google’s going to call me and then i
was like after a while i was like no you
can’t do that no no no just stop that
you know and they’re like listening to
me and i said i want to have an online
conference and they go really i says
yeah
so i had an online conference i had a
virtual cocktail party i had 10 sessions
over two days and talking about
different aspects of blocking seo and
everything involved
and i ran three of those until i got
bored and then went on to something else
yeah that’s great what is the name of
your blogs and some of your social media
now case the listeners want to go check
that out my blog is a culinary journey
with chef dennis and it’s
askchefdennis.com
so it’s real simple and my social media
is
ask chef dennis you can find me on
facebook on twitter on pinterest on
instagram and it’s just ashf dennis or
if you google ask jeff dennis you’ll get
a whole list of different things to do
pretty easy to find me awesome i’ll put
up and i’ll put all that into the show
notes with your bio so if anyone is
listening and wants to reach out ask you
more questions find out more about this
stuff they’ll be able to have all those
links readily available
i want to take a quick pause here at
this halfway point in the show and ask
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okay so now back to the show
so where do you think blogs are today i
know a lot about that they’re starting a
lot more vlogs video logs right that are
writing the blogs i don’t know if that
is a trend or if that’s going to be you
know something that takes over blogs is
blogs dying are they still around what’s
your opinion on where it’s all heading
today i think blogs are continually
evolving at least i think for the next
10 years i see them still being a viable
content source uh how we’ve written
stories has changed when we first would
write we wanted people wanted stories
now he hears you know i don’t need to
hear about how your grandmother picked
this herb in italy to make this dish
just give me the damn recipe right you
know so it’s more about like when i
right now i have a formula i kind of
developed and it’s really pretty simple
i’ll post a picture a step-by-step
picture or a picture and then i’ll write
about it so i just and that i learned
that doing travel blogging where i would
post a picture and then write about the
picture post a picture write about the
picture so it leaves out a lot of your
intent on writing stories it get it it
stops you from
over vocalizing some things that people
just don’t want to know it’s just just
you know dragnet just just the facts
ma’am just the facts you know that kind
of a thing um but i think blogging is
around vlogging you know i don’t think
so as much it had its day in the sun i
think just like live streaming had its
day in the sun
it’s it’s a very particular audience
that will sit and watch something for a
half an hour to an hour
the attention span these days is short
bits which is why tick tock and
instagram reels are doing so well people
want to consume information in a minute
and they don’t want to have to sit there
podcasts are completely different
because this is something to entertain
you
while you’re commuting while you’re
doing other tasks so you can listen but
to actually have to visually watch
something i think that animal has gone
for now you know in long and longer
longer videos what about like youtube
and rumble and a lot of these platforms
that are showing cooking videos and yeah
you know and monetizing it is it
possible for the creators so they’re
getting something back where do you see
those going
you know i think they’ll still be around
you really need to with youtube you
really need to get a lot of views to
make monetizing even worth while to you
know to put the ads that bother
everybody on them it’s the same thing
with blogging you know i tell people you
know they aren’t getting a lot of pages
don’t annoy your readers right now wait
till you you have enough traffic to make
it worthwhile to you
um but i i think there’s always going to
be the youtube niche and again it’s it’s
developing that product
that you
have followers that want to see
cooking videos i mean you can google
chicken marsala and you’ll get a hundred
different ways to make it or more on
youtube you know so it’s a matter of how
do i pick which one which one’s the
shortest one is it you know to the point
in five minutes uh tasty kind of
revolutionized the cooking video with
their tasty style videos that are done
in a minute a minute and a half
i think lead-ons like that getting
people interested and hooked is the key
to watching them to watch longer videos
right they make a a connection with the
with the host with the chef right yeah
as well and the thumbnails they come
into it yeah
just just like with the um on you know i
got a lot of pushback from the my ad
company when i put the jump to recipe
button on it
but my seo guy said you know dennis
because a lot of big bloggers are using
it it’s not bad because people want to
go see the recipe and see if it’s doable
see if they think they can make it and
then later on the day when they go make
it then they’ll come back to it and look
through it but you have to give them
that opportunity to see if it’s
something they feel comfortable with
yeah that’s the good point i put all my
recipes and my youtube videos right
there in the description so people even
have to watch the video they can just
grab it if they want print or they could
say oh now let’s see how that was put
together
like you said give it away give the give
the recipes yeah you know and i have no
problem with that anymore you know i
would rather do that than than bother
someone again that’s why i had the
the print recipe button and jump to
recipe button right at the very top of
my blog if you don’t want to read the
story if you don’t want to see this step
by step that’s fine just go right to it
and i try to put as much in the notes as
i can so if they print it out they can
still get the gist of of the little tips
and different things that i do
so if someone was listening now and
there probably is that wants to get into
you know social media they want to be a
chef and i know i have students that
reach out to me and just people in
general and they want to know how to do
youtube how to do blogging
what advice would you give them and
tell them some ways that you can
monetize it because how can you turn
this into at least
recoup your costs and eventually
hopefully become maybe a viable source
of income
it’s it’s easier than you think but on
one aspect and it’s more difficult than
you might realize on the other hand
because
the blogosphere has gotten saturated uh
everybody it’s just like opening a
restaurant everybody thinks it’s easy
and they’re gonna make a ton of money
until they actually start doing it and
they see what’s involved and how much
the costs are
creating a blog really doesn’t incur a
lot of costs right off the bat but you
know you need to be a good photographer
so you know luckily phones have can take
pictures that are great these days so
you don’t necessarily need to get a
camera right away
but there’s ex there’s money it needs to
be spent
in order to make money and that’s the
old adage you know in order to make
money you have to spend money and a lot
of people don’t realize that uh it’s
still a i tell people right now like i
have friends i says look you need to
start your blog now they’re in their 30s
i said we’re going to play the long game
you know don’t quit your day job but
let’s start working on it when you have
time let’s start developing some recipes
let’s start getting a good feel for it
and get it working plan on your first
three years four years even you know
it’s just like the old business thing
the irs used to let you take a loss
those years because they knew you
weren’t really gonna
be ready same thing with blogging you
know there are people that have come out
in a year and just skyrocketed you know
right place right time kind of thing
but you know other people honestly it’s
going to take you a while before you
start making more than enough money just
to pay your costs you know just to pay
for your host just to pay for your um
different things that you may have to
put on your blog
but it can be
you know
i’ve been six figures now for
five years
and it just starts started doubling
pretty much you know and it’s it’s
unreal what you can make blocking
off your ads off of sponsored content
brands will hire me
to write blog posts for them
and what i make
pales in comparison to what other people
make so i mean i have a friend that
makes over a million dollars a year
really vlogging oh yeah wow oh yeah and
it’s not as i mean granted i got to
start blogging
i’m telling you again it’s the long game
you know i i’m into retirement now
making more
than i ever dreamed possible making five
times what i did as a chef you know
it’s just it’s crazy it just makes no
sense to me and
i basically work when i want to work you
know if i decide
i just want to watch netflix all day
i’m going to do that you know i’ll come
do my little bit of work in the morning
you know i have a routine i drink my
coffee i do social media and then i
start working on other things um it’s
easier to set your schedule but then
again you know you have to be prepared
for what comes with that i have about a
dozen people that work for me in some
capacity right you know taking pictures
for me reshooting old posts you know one
of the big things i just don’t have time
to go back
so you have to understand what there is
available for you to help you having
va’s in other countries that will post
social media for you
uh you know you have to have a lawyer on
staff you have to have an seo guy on
staff i have someone that watches the
back end of my blog it’s called the see
sleep soundly plan you know from
nerdpress so you don’t have to worry
about what’s going down and what’s going
to break because they have someone
watching it all the time for you yeah so
true so many parts and it keeps it
doesn’t get any easier it keeps growing
because as you get bigger you need more
and more of that support yeah and you
know it like right now i could scale it
back severely if i didn’t want to like
say tomorrow morning i woke up says all
right i’m done i can scale back a lot of
the stuff i do and just get the residual
income and it would stay good for a
while but you know as long as i’m happy
doing it it was just like cooking you
know nothing made me happier than
cooking for other people
and this is now how i can reach other
people i’m not actually cooking for them
but i’m doing something even better i’m
helping them be able to cook in their
homes
i’m telling them what they need to do to
make this food in their homes that’s the
key too you mentioned you got to have
that desire that passion yeah to do this
especially at the beginning because yeah
you’re not gonna make any money you’re
gonna spend a lot of time and if you’re
frustrated and you’re doing it only for
money it’s never gonna happen you need
to be there and put in that like you
said the long game
years and years and eventually it pays
off oh yeah you know you need that that
passion to hold you through that and
then to continue that momentum later on
yeah and the other part of that is not
just complaining
every time google does something which
they do all the time i mean they’re
always changing the game
and staying abreast of what’s new like i
should really be on tick-tock but i just
don’t have the energy for it yeah me
neither you know
you know and i i’m okay with that but
you know i know i should be and i keep
thinking i just bought three new cameras
to do videos but i’m like i just don’t
have the energy
uh so
maybe i will maybe i won’t
maybe my granddaughter i’ll learn how to
do it and want to do it for me you know
that that’s the other piece of advice
don’t try to be everywhere especially at
the beginning yeah pick your lanes like
i have three podcasts i have a youtube
channel i’m trying to write a second
book right now you know i’m already
spread thin so if i wanted to get into
say tick-tock and all these other areas
that i may be in a little bit you know
you just wipe yourself right out so when
you’re starting out find those lanes
whatever that is don’t try to be
everything for everybody yeah and then
you know you’ll find you know your
success down the road if i was to tell
let’s say you came to me said dennis i
want to be a blogger what should i do i
would say make food that you love to eat
and make food you love to serve your
friends do a one at least one a week and
when you have 50 blog posts then we’re
gonna start pushing you on social media
okay because if you i just read
something in one of my groups i have
nine blog posts and i can’t get any
traction like
okay
you know
you know that’s not how it works but you
know you don’t even want to start
promoting yourself until you have enough
to bring people in
and you know people i i again i see a
lot of people always saying um i search
keywords to see what i should write
about i have never
ever done that i may do keyword stuff
after i’ve written the post
but before it’s like what do i what do i
want to eat yeah what does my what do my
readers want me to make you know i had
someone wanted me to make an amateur
shauna so i so i did that you know it’s
like uh
what do i want to make that i think
people will enjoy eating it’s never
about what’s going to rank well the idea
after that is for you to be passionate
enough about it to write it well enough
and then to start promoting it so that
other people
want to eat it and want to read about it
so you know you’re creating the growth
behind it yourself yeah i agree i have
some of my youtube videos 180 000 views
i have another one that has like 50 but
that one with 50 was something i wanted
for dinner i wanted to cook it it was
helping me learn and continue my
culinary journey so i wanted to try that
recipe out people like yeah that people
have interested i go yeah but i am and
i’m the creator i had to spend the money
for the food so sometimes you do it for
yourself absolutely and again if it’s
something that that’s good it may take a
little while but other people are going
to start to notice it you know it’s some
of the i rank for things i have no
business ranking for you know uh for uh
barbecue for for uh pulled pork and for
baby back ribs i’m like you know i’m not
a grill master but again it’s people are
looking at a guy who doesn’t do that
they can do that telling them how they
can do that right so it’s like you know
that only if yon can cook you can too
you know well
you know me not being a pit master
smoking and doing all this other stuff
with the meats you know it’s just making
it simple and you can still have
something really good at your house you
know that kind of philosophy
so if someone wanted to get into do you
have any resources that they should get
is there a book is there a facebook club
is there things they can get involved in
so that can help them make that
beginning a little bit easier absolutely
there’s a lot of facebook groups the the
central foodie blogger i can send you a
list to put on there too as i don’t
recall them all offhand but uh one of
the biggest resources for me
is i belong to mediavine and mediavine
has been the godsend for bloggers for
not just me but for we have 9 000
bloggers in the group now and they pay
us for ads it’s the largest blogging
network in the world and they all run
google ads they’re one of google’s
largest uh ad groups
and um so many resources there are other
bloggers you meet you know again i tell
people you know a competitor even as a
chef the guy down the street that might
be cooking the same thing at me really
isn’t my competitor he is
but he should be my friend
we should be talking to each other
helping each other because you know a
rising tide lifts all the boats
if you spend your time trying to bring
someone down it’s only going to hurt you
in the long run it’s going to hurt both
of you so you know when you find someone
you know
and just don’t come to a mentor and
start like bleeding them dry with
questions you know build a relationship
you know it’s about relationships we do
business with people we like right you
know it doesn’t necessarily have to be
someone that’s lower priced or better at
something it’s people we like so you
want to develop that relationship you
want to ask questions you want to be
respectful you want to don’t invade
someone’s time too much but you want to
find that person who’s willing and i’m
always willing to help people that
approach me that way you know if you
have a couple minutes is there you could
you just answer this one question or is
there how did you do this
i’m very transparent i i entered the
blogosphere when no one would tell you
anything which is how i became a chef
dennis i would learn something and i
would post about it you know that’s all
i ever did you know uh people now what
did you get for that blog post i will
tell them point blank you know this is
how much they paid me for that i’m not
hiding anything i’m not bragging but i’m
not hiding anything i’m letting you know
this is what you can achieve
you you can you know
get three thousand dollars for you know
one blog post you know i have friends
that get ten thousand dollars from one
blog post so it’s
everything in perspective you know it’s
it’s a lot of money but it’s not as much
as people are making so everything in
perspective yeah yeah so true so true so
you were doing these online cooking
classes way before they were popular and
then yeah covid the pandemic really
pushed you know everybody indoors and
the big thing you see is zoom cooking
clouds oh yeah because i’ve even done
some of those this corporate team
building what do you think of those is
that something that’s going to continue
something you’ve had a lot of experience
with well you know the chef hangout
dot com that i was part of in the
beginning you know i probably did a
couple hundred cooking classes on those
uh easy and again you know they were
very successful
but it was a limited you know it’s
something like if you’re not if you have
the time and you’re not making a lot of
money from other resources it’s great
it’s fun it’s something do i get
asked to join other groups like that
other uh media companies all the time
but it’s a matter of me spending my time
at my age now in retirement
i could work 16 hours a day if i wanted
to
okay i don’t want to right
i think home cooking classes are great i
think as as things improve they’ll get
easier to do
and they’ll be
easier to to give other people you know
the problem with online cooking classes
live
is that you have to find a time that
kind of works yeah you know if you’ve
got a following of the globe yeah that’s
the i mean i had when i wanted to follow
yeah you got different times just in
this country i did a class and i had
people in japan i had people in spain i
had people in the netherlands someone in
florida someone in colorado one class i
i did i had all these people you know at
this and the guy in japan was in the
morning and we were cooking a seafood
dish no and he’s putting it in the
window goes chef denny chef denny is
okay is okay you know he’s showing me
how he’s cooking you know i’m like oh my
god this is just insane
but you got to get alive even with like
live video live streaming now it’s
finding a time that people are going to
watch like people watch replays you know
they don’t always watch live as much
that’s where you know youtube comes in
and youtube’s so popular because those
resources are there on your time frame
right so you know i think there’s always
going to be and i think online is
getting even stronger because of the
pandemic and remote working so i still
think it’s a good and more acceptable
too that’s to do those type of classes
oh absolutely yeah so you know maybe
that will become
more available and and and again
something that will be more profitable
and again it’s up to the person that’s
running them to decide you know if it’s
profitable enough for them you know
years ago if i could make 200 in an
afternoon i’ve been hey this is great
you know now it’s like
i don’t put pants on for fifty dollars
you know it’s like
you know kind of kind of a perspective
yeah where you are in the in your in
your journey correct right
but yeah i found it with the zoom class
too nobody wants to do it on the
weekends because they’re off and they’re
doing things and then during the week
you know you got to do it after they get
out of work so that’s like six o’clock
but you can’t do it too long because
then they’re eating at night so you got
to try to find that 90 minutes 60
minutes right in there you know it makes
it a little bit more tough but they are
fun oh they are and i think if you could
get a regional one like if you could
build regional interest groups you know
which is i think sometimes we think too
globally
but say if you’re in florida and you
just attacked florida and try to get uh
you know your your readers there and
then after you develop that maybe attack
another time zone
you know that might be a way to do it uh
but again there’s there’s work involved
with anything you know nobody just hands
you money you know you have to work for
it and there’s a lot of time and work
behind it so most people get discouraged
when they don’t get that immediate
gratification or something doesn’t work
right away you know i’m the same way you
know everybody’s just human nature it’s
uh
we’ve been raised to expect more of
immediate gratification from something
as so it’s it’s difficult but it’s it’s
something that you can do if you really
are passionate about it and you enjoy
the whole thing is do you enjoy doing it
which is why a lot of people don’t cook
because they don’t enjoy it well you
gotta change your way of thinking about
cooking
you have to cook with foods that you
like to eat not necessarily what i post
you know if there’s i tell people
there’s broccoli in the recipe and you
don’t like broccoli leave it out
put spinach in put something else in you
know it’s it’s not going to kill it
uh and get to the point where you’re
cooking with if you cook with foods you
enjoy eating and you sit down to dinner
and you go wow that was good right right
next time you’re going to want to go
back in again right so true so true
so what’s next for you where do you see
yourself going in the next year five
years how are you building your business
what do you think is going to happen in
the in the in the environment that we’re
in well you know i i always spend money
to improve my business that’s something
you know it wasn’t needed to put food on
the table when i started it and it was
something i’ve always known that you
have to spend money to make money so
i’ve hired seo people this year
i always had a blog audit done but i
actually hired a company to help correct
my blog post and make them more seo
friendly
i hired someone to get me on podcasts so
you know that’s one of the reasons i’m
with you today uh a company yeah company
in colorado is is you know marketing me
for podcasts
uh again just to get the word out
before covid i had a really interesting
concept i was going to put in play
and when travel stopped i kind of
sidelined it but i was going to get bus
stop signs
uh all throughout orlando that said
what’s for dinner asked f dennis
you know and uh we may be coming back to
that revisiting that soon but uh you
know in the next five years i would like
to still be enjoying what i’m doing
still cooking still writing my blog
still helping people
discover some joy in their kitchen but i
like to get back to traveling i love to
travel and
the last two years have been kind of
quiet and you know i love cruises and
just being in other countries and eating
different food and because i’m a chef i
i get into a lot of places you know
people you know i was in madrid and
they’re taking me to all these we went
in this one kitchen it goes where they
had all the little baby pig heads lined
up that they were roasting in this oven
that had been i don’t know how many
hundreds of years old uh
you know and i go in other places they
go oh i got to eat barnacles they were
excited for me to try barnacles they
were expensive and they says we got
permission to get you barnacles
i’m like okay
kind of like a snail yeah you know glad
i got to try it not necessarily
something i’ll ever order again but i
mean when people are excited to share
something with you
you got to love it you got to be
passionate about it people i can’t wait
to take you here chef dennis and i’m
like oh my god you know okay my wife
laughs because whenever we eat out when
the chef feeds me something it’s the
best thing i’ve ever had
because of the interaction with the
person you know and later on i can be a
little more you know i can break it down
a little bit more but the time is oh my
god this was fantastic the sauce the
meat was cooked just right i loved it
everything was good and i’m just loving
life
because it’s part of
a bonding between people you know the
chef’s coming out here he’s sitting with
me he’s talking to me or even the server
recommended if they thought this would i
would like this you know i always give a
server
two to three choices before i order i
said all right what should i get this
this or this and you know i’ll let them
kind of make the decision for me yeah
you know they’ll say you know they’ll
help plead me and what i want to get um
but just when you when people see you’re
happy with something that they made for
you
you know it’s just like it just really
enriches the experience of eating and
for me if i was cooking and cooking so
it goes both ways so true so true well
as we come to the end of our chat today
before we wrap up is there any last
minute advice or guidance that you want
to leave with the listeners something
that you want to share maybe they want
to go into this career maybe they want
to be bloggers maybe they want to go to
culinary school anything you would tell
them well if you’re thinking about
culinary school i i personally don’t
think you could find a more satisfying
profession to be in you know you’re
going to work hard i always tell people
don’t think it’s going to be easy
but something that’s going to be
fulfilling to you
something that you’ll always be able to
find a job doing you know it you’re not
going to be out of work if you work hard
the rewards will be
great i mean
and i wish i had gone to a culinary
school you know all things being equal
and looking back if i had done that when
i first started i think it would have
really helped me develop a
better understanding for everything
early on in my career and given me a
good groundwork for it one of the things
i did when i was at teaching was i got
tired of my girls looking and goes oh
chef
after real college we might go to
culinary school
it’s real college you know
so i took them to to the cia up in hyde
park and they got off the bus with their
mouths just open and going oh my god
and just being there at the end of the
day i called home and says i want to go
back to school i want to go back to
school you know
it’s just such an experience you know
whether you choose johnson and wales or
some of the other local schools that are
around you know do it do it you know
learn be a sponge
live the life you know it’s just
something you’ll never regret i promise
you that it’s a it’s a
skill that will serve you in life
if even if you don’t work in the
profession uh so i would just say do it
for blogging you know like i told you
before you know play the long game
don’t expect to be
you know the best new thing on the
market but start building up your your
cred start uh developing recipes
start sharing what you love about food
and the rest will come to you it’s just
time good advice so true
well that is just about all the time we
have for this episode i want to first
thank you dennis for coming on the show
today and sharing your culinary school
story with all of us really appreciate
your time your insight and your honesty
oh thank you colin it was my pleasure
you know i love
sharing what i know about food and and
helping people any way i can okay well
thanks again i really enjoyed our chat
bye bye alright bye-bye
and a big thanks and appreciation also
goes out to all of you the listeners we
hope you enjoy the show and this episode
you all are a big part of this show so
please let us know what you think your
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culinary school stories is a proud
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he currently has over one million
followers on social media and his blog
gets eight and a half million page views
per year
with that said it is my pleasure to
welcome chef dennis litley to the show
dennis thanks for joining us today well
thank you so much for having me colin i
really appreciate the opportunity to
talk to your listeners great great so
let’s jump right into it now i know you
first started cooking at a very young
age and that graham kerr the galloping
gourmet was a big inspiration but maybe
you can start there and tell us about
when you first knew food and cooking was
going to be your career and how your
family friend mama jeannette influenced
that decision well it’s it’s kind of a
long story going back you know my first
food memory was of me putting frozen
waffles in a toaster that wasn’t plugged
in
and i know i had to climb up on a little
stool to do it and i couldn’t have been
more than about three but i think right
then i knew that if i could make my own
food i could eat so that would that
connected it but my mother was a nurse
and she would work nights and be so she
would be home during the day and that
meant she would sleep through lunch
during the summers or if i was off from
school and didn’t want to wake her up so
that’s when i started getting into
cooking on my own and you know as a
little round boy at that age i certainly
love to eat and uh coming from a uh
mexican-american background i had been
spoiled by my mexican grandmother who
would just feed me till i would burst
and
that was kind of where i i got my love
for food i think from her
and
my creative juices started flowing when
i started cooking and seeing you know
this isn’t rocket science this is about
you know even back then i know it was
about just putting some flavors together
that tasted good
and that would you know be satisfying
so i think at that age whether i
subconsciously knew it or whether i
realized it
i knew that cooking was something i
could do i tried a lot of things over
the years but nothing ever felt quite as
familiar or quite as satisfying as
cooking
and so when did you decide like oh i
should go to maybe get some education in
this some academics was that like high
school and most had people happen or was
it after the fact you know i took kind
of a longer route around that and
i did some wandering and that’s when i
ran into a mama jeanette uh early on in
my career and she kind of had an impact
on me and i think the greatest gift she
gave me was she had told me you need to
listen to food she used to call me
stunning boy shoes
sonny boy you need to listen to food and
if you listen to it it will tell you
what it needs
and that you know some people look at
you go okay you know what have you been
smoking and i’m like no you know
seriously you know and that’s kind of
been if i had any gifts in culinary that
was what i had i was i would look at
something and know what seasoning it
needed or know what another uh vegetable
or other add-on i could put in there to
make it come alive
that’s what kind of really guided me
through most of my culinary career so
her bringing that out of me
and teaching me to be a little more
adventurous at eating i think is what
drove me further
in
and opening my mind up to being creative
that’s great advice you gave you know
where did you come across mama jeanette
she found me asleep on a um
on a park bench
and said she’d been waiting for me
really yeah it was kind of a it’s a long
very interesting story
and i said yeah you know i’ve been
waiting for she had a cup of coffee
and i didn’t know who she was and it
turned out that she was from louisiana i
had been bored at louisiana and knew my
parents you know so
from when she had her restaurant and
they would go into the restaurant and uh
it’s a little bit of whether you want to
believe it or not a little bit of a
psychic connection there and um
spent some time with her and really
got through a rough spot in my life and
i came back
and when i started working again the
person that i was working for was just
simply brilliant i was in a nursing home
and she had been the food service
director at the university of
pennsylvania
and she had been the head of the
dietitians at the university of
pennsylvania she had her training at the
mayo clinic and she was retired so she
was looking for some place to work a few
hours so she could buy her grandchildren
some things
and just by
luck of the cards i ended up working
with her and she taught me so much
and again how to get a lot more out of
myself than i thought was possible wow
so these early influences on you had it
you know sounds like a big impact on
food and the love of food and cooking
yeah and then did you then go to school
for you decide okay now i really want to
pursue this that’s when i went to school
okay where did you go and how did you
pick the school that you did well it was
close by it was easy to go to they had a
somewhat culinary program there it’s
atlanta community college and now my
parents actually paid for it because
again i wasn’t in a great place but
it wasn’t super expensive and it was the
first time my life i ever applied myself
in school and i ended up with a 4.0
on the president’s list carrying seven
classes and working full-time
so it was it was another milestone in my
movement my career and while i was at
that nursing home
one of my sales people you know i was
about done you know as as a chef
my tenure at places was usually five
years was a sweet spot after that it
kind of could go in bad directions just
because i was bored
um people got tired of my
overwhelming attitude sometimes i might
like to say
but i uh the guy said you know this
guy’s looking for someone to work in his
kitchen doesn’t pay anything
uh you can learn a lot he’s got you know
the cia trained chef this big german
chef and him and himself and he was very
knowledgeable
i went over there and started and the
first day i worked there i went in and
at the end of the shift i said bob i
wish i’d been more help and he looked at
me and said yeah i do too
so
i knew
i knew that was a good place to be he
was honest you know and i figured as
long as i really worked hard i would
learn a lot and that’s really where i
rounded out my education
i was done with the book learning type
stuff and now this was practical and it
was learning how to work in
severe situations i’d like to say
because we had a ceiling that was about
four inches taller than me
and it was small it was cramped uh it
was just i learned how to curse there
pretty much
you know and then learned later on at
another restaurant that that really
wasn’t appropriate i stopped
um
so it was a real big life lesson but it
made me appreciate
just what was inside of me and what i
could bring out when i cooked and when i
cooked it felt like magic it felt like
something was really happening uh it was
my happy place that no matter how bad my
day had been no matter what was going on
in my life i could escape to this happy
place and i could make other people
happy and i was being fulfilled that’s
great sounds like this apprenticeship
you had with this chef was more of a or
turned into more of a more like a
mentorship right he really had that
influence on you absolutely he was a
very stern when i first met him i think
he was you know a big a big man and very
stern and
dennis do you know how to clean ducks
and i grabbed a can of comet and scrub
brush and said of course i do norman
where are they
you know and i kind of wore him down um
and and he was just a really really
great guy but he was trying to be more
stern than he really was and we became
best of friends and he taught me a lot
and just watching the owner he did not
that he spent much time talking but he
actually became more of a mentor
throughout the rest of my life cooking
and
when i hit a bad spot i would go see him
and talk to him and
communicate and i ended up going back to
his restaurant like i’d be in a bad spot
for a while and i need a job and he’d
hire me just about any time
you know
you know he goes what’s going on now you
want to come back for a while yes i do
thank you
he was there even after you had left
then he was in your life right yeah
great sounds like a good good guy good
story um so what did you do after that
now you’ve got that training you’re
going to branch off you’re going to go
into your your own
restaurants your own
businesses to run but you know the grass
is always greener
i see the salesman come in not sweating
dressed nicely
happy and i thought you know boy i
should do that i should go over to the
other side well
that didn’t work out you know it’s
always greener until you you get all the
other things that are put on to you
because of that and uh but i did learn a
lot selling food too and i learned more
how to communicate and how to uh
what other chefs were really looking for
so it broadened my horizon from this
you know one restaurant that i had
pretty much been working at to seeing
all these different styles of
restaurants all these different types of
chefs cooks
uh
restaurant owners who were just doing
the best they can and then i found i
could offer them some help you know not
necessarily all the really talented
french chefs that i was selling to but
uh sometimes you know they’d ask me
dennis what do you think about this or
how can you do this so it opened up my
mind the possibilities of of talking
with other professionals and seeing that
you know we really can’t help each other
it’s not about it’s not cutthroat it’s
not about you know who can do better
than the other person it’s it’s about
collaboration and i think that’s when i
first started to realize that you know
a competitor is not necessarily a
competitor it’s it’s your could be your
best friend if you let it you know and i
would end up becoming friends with some
of these chefs and talking to them
throughout my career at different things
and they’d move to different restaurants
so i’d come sell them there
and uh things just it changed my
perspective on the process i guess on
the cooking process so again it was
another learning experience for me it’s
great and then at some point you
transitioned into teaching right yeah
how did that happen where along the path
did you say i need to do this
well you know after another stint in the
restaurant back with the same family um
after i i developed carpal tunnel in
both hands
and
i i tore a hamstring carrying this huge
pot of sauce and not letting it spill
when i lunged forward it popped
so i was starting to become a little bit
of a mess
so i did had two surgeries on my hands
and uh doctor said you really shouldn’t
do this anymore so i went into a
management company i went to work for um
sodexo at that point and i actually was
wood dining services later became sodexo
and and i started managing more than
cooking
and
as things would have it you know i’m
working at a unit there and
uh i kind of i was feeding 5000 people a
day you know i was responsible i wasn’t
feeling i had a chef i had a catering
director we were doing a million dollars
in catering on the busy months and i was
like
just trying to run all this and
coordinate it and keep everything going
and i had cia trained chefs some from
johnson and wales there and you know
very talented people i had a chef walk
in for a job who had cooked for kings
and he was retired and his wife had
kicked him out of the house and said you
just need to go do something
and uh werner and he was you know after
it took a while because he never said a
word when i got to know him he says yes
i cooked for this crown prince i cooked
for this king i cooked for this person
it’s like wow
so i had all these people and after
about
a year there i had burned out completely
and they sent me to another smaller unit
where i could kind of recuperate which
is where i had sent all my employees
that kind of burned out
and when i was there in my shirt and
ties standing around there just kind of
trying not to drool because i was so
overworked and beat up
so one employee i’d sit there said come
to the kitchen and make yourself useful
and she scared me so i went okay
so i went back into the kitchen and i
started cooking again it was in a very
small
kitchen they used to get all their food
delivered and i said i can’t do that i
have to start making it all making it
all and i drove the sales up about 600
percent from the time i started cooking
over the next three months
in this small unit and kind of blew it
out and then it was like i’m back you
know i’m cook i can cook and i’m back
and that kind of got me back to cooking
again
and then that led to my second carpal
tunnel surgery
which i needed and i said all right i’ve
got to stop this and i ended up at the
school
a friend of mine my district manager had
moved and i called him and said where
are you oh i’m with a compass group now
i got a job for you in flower town
and i went i’m not going to flower town
you know he goes no no no go and it
turned out to be flower isn’t bread
flour i was thinking flowers and you
know a daisy and i said wow this really
is prophetic in some way and the school
was
old and not really well maintained and
just it was just wasn’t a good situation
it was a school for girls yes all girls
well for 600 high school girls and
i looked at it and i’m going i don’t
know about this
and the principal says and you work 161
days a year and i went when would you
like me to start
as soon as she told me how little i had
to work and the length of the day i was
like i can do this so i spent the next
few years transforming the kitchen in
the school and cleaning it up and
replacing items and making it bring it
into the modern times
the girls it was a love-hate
relationship because they had never
eaten that good and eaten real food you
know they were used to just chicken
fingers and french fries and then we
went well well of course we’ll still
have that but we’re going to have
chicken marsala we’re going to have
sushi we’re going to have roasted
vegetables we’re gonna have you know all
these wonderful things on the salad bar
yeah and the the girls ended up painting
a mural of me on the wall in the
cafeteria the art class and it was like
wow then they they dedicated it to me
too it was like it was really blew my
mind wow and uh at that point i decided
you know i need to
start teaching my own staff because i’d
have functions
and anybody that’s ever hired temps know
it can go one of two ways and it’s
usually the bad way
and i said let me start training my own
staff so i i started a culinary program
and i had 60 girls sign up the first
year
and they ended up with 11 actually at
the end of the year 10 of them were
freshmen one was a sophomore because all
the older girls just couldn’t fit it
into their schedule they just were so
busy all of them went to college it was
100 of them went to college uh they
weren’t all well to do there was a
mixture of you know just blue collar
workers and then you know some that were
well to do from the area
uh but i ended up with these 10 11 girls
they didn’t know what i was doing they
just said dennis is not causing any
problems he’s a good guy
the girls love him we’re not even gonna
worry about what he’s doing so at the
end of the year we had our big function
and i told him i said all right
everybody wear black pants black shoes
wear a t-shirt i’ll give you a jacket
i’ll show you how to wear the apron so
you look really cool not even working
but so you look good and i dressed them
all up and walked them out into this big
function and you could have heard a pin
drop
and it was like wow
really you know and i’ve had a lot of
fun with them over the year teaching
them how to make things you know those
girls they were sponges just soaking up
everything i had to say you know and
everything we would make we were making
bread we were making you know salad
dressings we were sauteing dishes we
were baking desserts we were just having
a good time
and and eating and just love and they
were like oh my god look at all the food
we get to eat you know it’s just and
then other girls that were there would
come in to see if there was anything
left after class you know have anything
left so you know we’d feed them and it
it just kind of was a real happy time
and
after four years of running the class i
finally ended up leaving through a
series of more injuries to my body just
beating up my body
and i’d had three of the girls for the
whole four years
and i think the the biggest highlight of
my career in teaching
was
we had a re-evaluation of the school and
i was really really sick when these
people came to reevaluate the school and
we had a function of course so my girls
set the room made all the food with me
sitting in the office just trying not to
die
click serve the food cleared the room
and they gave us a point of excellence
there were two points of excellence that
year for the school one was the robotics
team and one was the culinary class
that’s great yeah so what was the
some of the most rewarding you know
moments that you had that besides things
like this this excellence i mean just
having that impact on the girls and
changing their lives that that was it
you know and it was never about and i
was told it’s not about i i don’t want
you to go to culinary school if you do
that’s great but that’s not why i’m
doing this
i want you to see that there’s nothing
magical about cooking it’s not rock one
of my favorite sayings is it’s not
rocket science and and hearing them say
that to the the new girls when they were
teaching you know was like wow that’s
funny uh but just i wanted them to be
able to feed their families i wanted
them to see that you know they don’t
have to order out they don’t have to
to uh get ready to made food i mean that
all has this time and a place and i i’m
never speaking about buying something
ready to eat you know that’s that’s it
happens it’s just part of life right but
you know i wanted you to see that you
know you can cook you can have fun you
can bring your significant other into
the kitchen you can bring your kids into
the kitchen and in fact the president of
the of the club actually went on to
start teaching younger children how to
cook and it’s just like she got so
inspired i’m like this is what i’m
talking about right right you know it’s
not about you know i created this
wonderful magnificent chef who opened a
restaurant which would be great too but
this is what i was trying to do and when
i started my blog that was the
philosophy i carried across through it
to teach people that food is not
something that is difficult to master or
it’s not something that you can’t create
in your own home
it’s just a matter of learning some tips
and tricks that as restaurant chefs or
as professional chefs that we take for
granted right right so would you ever go
into teaching again is that something
that you know he got the bug then got
inspired or that was a one-time thing
you know i i thought about it when we
moved to florida there’s actually a
really
a really great place here the rosen
school for business and he has a
culinary program uh man it’s just
amazing the things he’s done to help the
community and help people
and uh i thought about says you know
chefs know they know how to i don’t ever
want to go back to cooking again to
teaching cooking again that’s just i’m
kind of tired
but i said they need to know how to do
social media they need to know how to
set pictures i mean even if it’s just
taking them with their phone they need
to know how to do live videos really
quick from their restaurants you know
hey this is what i’m making today
come by and tell them to ask ask for the
chef and i’ll send something out to you
you know just to learn how to really
work their business because
business has changed how we run
restaurants and how we sell food
has completely changed over the years of
social media and it’s no longer about
you know ads in the paper or
uh it’s word of mouth still but it’s a
different kind of word of mouth it’s
it’s word-of-mouth be your images on
social media how the food looked are now
even with tick tock you know these again
it’s very short bites of what are you
doing what can i see what can i you know
what can i do for you uh just being more
of a personality larger than life kind
of a thing to draw people in yeah that’s
that’s key today and when i was teaching
i had at johnson wales i
started an elective class called media
training for the culinary student just
for those reasons you mentioned because
it’s no longer back of the house the
chef people want to see the chef they
want you out front and
you’re going to be doing farmers markets
or maybe local news or you know maybe
you got to promote some classes or
training you need to be the face of the
kitchen so you need to know how to do
social media and you know blogging’s
where you start a podcast whether you do
a youtube channel whether you give
lessons i mean all of that’s packaged
and it’s just necessary today oh it is
it is like i said it’s it’s it’s moved
forward in a way that really makes me
feel proud to be part of the culinary
community i love the open kitchen
concept you know we’ve gone from being a
very guarded you know like honestly in
the beginning of my career you asked me
for a recipe you might as well ask for
one of my children you’re getting you
know but now you know when i started
blogging i was like of course i’ll give
it to you and then please you have to do
it this way you have to do this step
this is the little secret this is the
magic touch that i had at the end i know
it’s not going to be quite as good as i
make it you know and the chefs out there
know it’s not going to be the same but i
wanted to get as close as humanly
possible so you know that that builds
another layer of bond you know with this
restaurant with this chef with the
community and you know again take some
of the
uh mysticism out of cooking you know
again it’s it’s food it’s food it’s very
simple common ground that we all share
right well like you mentioned that
course would be uh i think a big hit and
needed so if it ever comes to fruition
i’d love to collaborate with oh
absolutely i’m just here in florida too
a little south of you so you know we
could team up and do something like that
i’m all in for that because people need
to know that today yeah i think in the
world now you know i had not committed
to it when i thought of it because it
just was going to seem like it was going
to take too much of my time and it
wasn’t so much the class but it was
getting to the class and getting back
from the class and knowing me how much
extra time i would sit there just
talking to the students because i i love
to interact with younger people it just
i’ve done some stuff at ucf i’ve taught
some classes over there
and on be a one force and uh just being
there just really re reinvigorates you
you know makes you feel happy and to be
part of the future that’s coming so you
never know you know maybe online would
be a way to go about doing it too yes so
true so let’s transition into your blog
so you’ve got you’re retired and then
yeah we’re just talking about social
media now so at what point did you you
know grab on and say i’m all in and
start cooking classes blogs getting that
fan base tell us about that how it came
to to be what it is today that was
really another kind of i don’t know
right place right time kind of thing or
just got lucky it was
i had started the blog as a resource for
my students i wanted them to have some
place to go to ask me questions to when
i post recipes to talk about what we did
in class and none of them wanted any of
that they just wanted to come to my
office and talk to me
but other students at the school and
teachers at the school started going
there and i started
i joined a blogging organization
and it really gave me exposure worldwide
i mean i was no stretch of the
imagination a big blogger but it gave me
access to bloggers all over the world
and i started making friends and
again seeing
how different foods were prepared and
again it was another reinvigoration of
my career at that point and that really
led to me blogging more and when i did
write retire from the school and we
moved to florida i had more time to
spend
and about the year i think we moved
google plus started and it was a love
hate thing people loved it and people
hated it you know there was no middle
middle space on that
but i had like found my people i i was
there and i was just loving it and i was
laughing and listening to music and
sharing recipes
and
my blog was still pretty new then so it
wasn’t like i was very big blogger and
for some reason
i was i got approached by this guy who
wanted to run culinary classes online
and it was like wow this is
revolutionary this is amazing this is
gonna i want to be able to quit my day
job this is incredible and we started
teaching these classes but the sad fact
was people don’t want to pay for it if
they can get it on youtube for free
and that’s kind of what a lot of it
turned out to be you know i have done a
lot of classes afterwards and you know
you hit some successes here there but
and time wise in what you make
and the time involved in it you know
because i’d have to set up the studio in
the kitchen i’d get the computers up i’d
get the lights up i’d get everything
prepped i’d have to get everything going
you’d have to have something cooked
already you have to be making when you
have to have almost like three steps of
it done for this quick class you’re
doing this one hour or 45 minute class
and it was a lot of work
for just a couple hundred dollars and oh
my god
i think i’ll pass on this from now on
but it gave me the experience
and put me in front of google and the
next thing i know from doing these these
hangouts
these classes are from people around the
world
uh google noticed me and they had me on
their follow page with with rachel ray
anthony bourdain martha stewart amber
lagasse chef dennis and i’m going how
the hell did this happen wow so on
google plus i had over 1 million
followers
wow because i was actually using their
product as they intended it to so i was
one of the chefs they featured because
those other chefs had pages but they
were just run by their their pr
departments or different things
but i was actually doing what they
wanted me to do
so that was the beginning every other
social media i was late to the game
facebook twitter i was late to the game
but google plus gave me that push and
then i started building my other social
media accounts
um pinterest you know first time
pinterest sent me an invitation i
thought it was a joke or
uh spam so i deleted it and then i was
begging for another invitation
but just learning how to use the social
media at that point because of google
plus i had friends all around the world
and this is where collaboration really
comes in
you know you never know i had this one
guy message me and i i thought he was a
middle eastern person from his name and
it was just another one of these people
on google it was just gonna like go
bother me and stuff and it turned out to
be one of my best friends he lives in
italy and i’ve gone to see him a few
times and we
we just talked a little while before i
talk to him three or four times a week
regularly
but i met people like this all around
the world that were willing to give me
their time to ask some questions whether
it was about seo
uh whether it was about food photography
whether it was about you know another
style of cooking or another aspect of
blogging
that they were just willing to help so i
built this network
of people you know around the world
that were
were there for me and i ran the first
act i actually ran the first online
conference in 2013 that was ever held i
told google i said this is what i’m
going to do in there because google
would call me and the first time they
called me i was like ed grimley running
around the houses google’s going to call
me google’s going to call me and then i
was like after a while i was like no you
can’t do that no no no just stop that
you know and they’re like listening to
me and i said i want to have an online
conference and they go really i says
yeah
so i had an online conference i had a
virtual cocktail party i had 10 sessions
over two days and talking about
different aspects of blocking seo and
everything involved
and i ran three of those until i got
bored and then went on to something else
yeah that’s great what is the name of
your blogs and some of your social media
now case the listeners want to go check
that out my blog is a culinary journey
with chef dennis and it’s
askchefdennis.com
so it’s real simple and my social media
is
ask chef dennis you can find me on
facebook on twitter on pinterest on
instagram and it’s just ashf dennis or
if you google ask jeff dennis you’ll get
a whole list of different things to do
pretty easy to find me awesome i’ll put
up and i’ll put all that into the show
notes with your bio so if anyone is
listening and wants to reach out ask you
more questions find out more about this
stuff they’ll be able to have all those
links readily available
i want to take a quick pause here at
this halfway point in the show and ask
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okay so now back to the show
so where do you think blogs are today i
know a lot about that they’re starting a
lot more vlogs video logs right that are
writing the blogs i don’t know if that
is a trend or if that’s going to be you
know something that takes over blogs is
blogs dying are they still around what’s
your opinion on where it’s all heading
today i think blogs are continually
evolving at least i think for the next
10 years i see them still being a viable
content source uh how we’ve written
stories has changed when we first would
write we wanted people wanted stories
now he hears you know i don’t need to
hear about how your grandmother picked
this herb in italy to make this dish
just give me the damn recipe right you
know so it’s more about like when i
right now i have a formula i kind of
developed and it’s really pretty simple
i’ll post a picture a step-by-step
picture or a picture and then i’ll write
about it so i just and that i learned
that doing travel blogging where i would
post a picture and then write about the
picture post a picture write about the
picture so it leaves out a lot of your
intent on writing stories it get it it
stops you from
over vocalizing some things that people
just don’t want to know it’s just just
you know dragnet just just the facts
ma’am just the facts you know that kind
of a thing um but i think blogging is
around vlogging you know i don’t think
so as much it had its day in the sun i
think just like live streaming had its
day in the sun
it’s it’s a very particular audience
that will sit and watch something for a
half an hour to an hour
the attention span these days is short
bits which is why tick tock and
instagram reels are doing so well people
want to consume information in a minute
and they don’t want to have to sit there
podcasts are completely different
because this is something to entertain
you
while you’re commuting while you’re
doing other tasks so you can listen but
to actually have to visually watch
something i think that animal has gone
for now you know in long and longer
longer videos what about like youtube
and rumble and a lot of these platforms
that are showing cooking videos and yeah
you know and monetizing it is it
possible for the creators so they’re
getting something back where do you see
those going
you know i think they’ll still be around
you really need to with youtube you
really need to get a lot of views to
make monetizing even worth while to you
know to put the ads that bother
everybody on them it’s the same thing
with blogging you know i tell people you
know they aren’t getting a lot of pages
don’t annoy your readers right now wait
till you you have enough traffic to make
it worthwhile to you
um but i i think there’s always going to
be the youtube niche and again it’s it’s
developing that product
that you
have followers that want to see
cooking videos i mean you can google
chicken marsala and you’ll get a hundred
different ways to make it or more on
youtube you know so it’s a matter of how
do i pick which one which one’s the
shortest one is it you know to the point
in five minutes uh tasty kind of
revolutionized the cooking video with
their tasty style videos that are done
in a minute a minute and a half
i think lead-ons like that getting
people interested and hooked is the key
to watching them to watch longer videos
right they make a a connection with the
with the host with the chef right yeah
as well and the thumbnails they come
into it yeah
just just like with the um on you know i
got a lot of pushback from the my ad
company when i put the jump to recipe
button on it
but my seo guy said you know dennis
because a lot of big bloggers are using
it it’s not bad because people want to
go see the recipe and see if it’s doable
see if they think they can make it and
then later on the day when they go make
it then they’ll come back to it and look
through it but you have to give them
that opportunity to see if it’s
something they feel comfortable with
yeah that’s the good point i put all my
recipes and my youtube videos right
there in the description so people even
have to watch the video they can just
grab it if they want print or they could
say oh now let’s see how that was put
together
like you said give it away give the give
the recipes yeah you know and i have no
problem with that anymore you know i
would rather do that than than bother
someone again that’s why i had the
the print recipe button and jump to
recipe button right at the very top of
my blog if you don’t want to read the
story if you don’t want to see this step
by step that’s fine just go right to it
and i try to put as much in the notes as
i can so if they print it out they can
still get the gist of of the little tips
and different things that i do
so if someone was listening now and
there probably is that wants to get into
you know social media they want to be a
chef and i know i have students that
reach out to me and just people in
general and they want to know how to do
youtube how to do blogging
what advice would you give them and
tell them some ways that you can
monetize it because how can you turn
this into at least
recoup your costs and eventually
hopefully become maybe a viable source
of income
it’s it’s easier than you think but on
one aspect and it’s more difficult than
you might realize on the other hand
because
the blogosphere has gotten saturated uh
everybody it’s just like opening a
restaurant everybody thinks it’s easy
and they’re gonna make a ton of money
until they actually start doing it and
they see what’s involved and how much
the costs are
creating a blog really doesn’t incur a
lot of costs right off the bat but you
know you need to be a good photographer
so you know luckily phones have can take
pictures that are great these days so
you don’t necessarily need to get a
camera right away
but there’s ex there’s money it needs to
be spent
in order to make money and that’s the
old adage you know in order to make
money you have to spend money and a lot
of people don’t realize that uh it’s
still a i tell people right now like i
have friends i says look you need to
start your blog now they’re in their 30s
i said we’re going to play the long game
you know don’t quit your day job but
let’s start working on it when you have
time let’s start developing some recipes
let’s start getting a good feel for it
and get it working plan on your first
three years four years even you know
it’s just like the old business thing
the irs used to let you take a loss
those years because they knew you
weren’t really gonna
be ready same thing with blogging you
know there are people that have come out
in a year and just skyrocketed you know
right place right time kind of thing
but you know other people honestly it’s
going to take you a while before you
start making more than enough money just
to pay your costs you know just to pay
for your host just to pay for your um
different things that you may have to
put on your blog
but it can be
you know
i’ve been six figures now for
five years
and it just starts started doubling
pretty much you know and it’s it’s
unreal what you can make blocking
off your ads off of sponsored content
brands will hire me
to write blog posts for them
and what i make
pales in comparison to what other people
make so i mean i have a friend that
makes over a million dollars a year
really vlogging oh yeah wow oh yeah and
it’s not as i mean granted i got to
start blogging
i’m telling you again it’s the long game
you know i i’m into retirement now
making more
than i ever dreamed possible making five
times what i did as a chef you know
it’s just it’s crazy it just makes no
sense to me and
i basically work when i want to work you
know if i decide
i just want to watch netflix all day
i’m going to do that you know i’ll come
do my little bit of work in the morning
you know i have a routine i drink my
coffee i do social media and then i
start working on other things um it’s
easier to set your schedule but then
again you know you have to be prepared
for what comes with that i have about a
dozen people that work for me in some
capacity right you know taking pictures
for me reshooting old posts you know one
of the big things i just don’t have time
to go back
so you have to understand what there is
available for you to help you having
va’s in other countries that will post
social media for you
uh you know you have to have a lawyer on
staff you have to have an seo guy on
staff i have someone that watches the
back end of my blog it’s called the see
sleep soundly plan you know from
nerdpress so you don’t have to worry
about what’s going down and what’s going
to break because they have someone
watching it all the time for you yeah so
true so many parts and it keeps it
doesn’t get any easier it keeps growing
because as you get bigger you need more
and more of that support yeah and you
know it like right now i could scale it
back severely if i didn’t want to like
say tomorrow morning i woke up says all
right i’m done i can scale back a lot of
the stuff i do and just get the residual
income and it would stay good for a
while but you know as long as i’m happy
doing it it was just like cooking you
know nothing made me happier than
cooking for other people
and this is now how i can reach other
people i’m not actually cooking for them
but i’m doing something even better i’m
helping them be able to cook in their
homes
i’m telling them what they need to do to
make this food in their homes that’s the
key too you mentioned you got to have
that desire that passion yeah to do this
especially at the beginning because yeah
you’re not gonna make any money you’re
gonna spend a lot of time and if you’re
frustrated and you’re doing it only for
money it’s never gonna happen you need
to be there and put in that like you
said the long game
years and years and eventually it pays
off oh yeah you know you need that that
passion to hold you through that and
then to continue that momentum later on
yeah and the other part of that is not
just complaining
every time google does something which
they do all the time i mean they’re
always changing the game
and staying abreast of what’s new like i
should really be on tick-tock but i just
don’t have the energy for it yeah me
neither you know
you know and i i’m okay with that but
you know i know i should be and i keep
thinking i just bought three new cameras
to do videos but i’m like i just don’t
have the energy
uh so
maybe i will maybe i won’t
maybe my granddaughter i’ll learn how to
do it and want to do it for me you know
that that’s the other piece of advice
don’t try to be everywhere especially at
the beginning yeah pick your lanes like
i have three podcasts i have a youtube
channel i’m trying to write a second
book right now you know i’m already
spread thin so if i wanted to get into
say tick-tock and all these other areas
that i may be in a little bit you know
you just wipe yourself right out so when
you’re starting out find those lanes
whatever that is don’t try to be
everything for everybody yeah and then
you know you’ll find you know your
success down the road if i was to tell
let’s say you came to me said dennis i
want to be a blogger what should i do i
would say make food that you love to eat
and make food you love to serve your
friends do a one at least one a week and
when you have 50 blog posts then we’re
gonna start pushing you on social media
okay because if you i just read
something in one of my groups i have
nine blog posts and i can’t get any
traction like
okay
you know
you know that’s not how it works but you
know you don’t even want to start
promoting yourself until you have enough
to bring people in
and you know people i i again i see a
lot of people always saying um i search
keywords to see what i should write
about i have never
ever done that i may do keyword stuff
after i’ve written the post
but before it’s like what do i what do i
want to eat yeah what does my what do my
readers want me to make you know i had
someone wanted me to make an amateur
shauna so i so i did that you know it’s
like uh
what do i want to make that i think
people will enjoy eating it’s never
about what’s going to rank well the idea
after that is for you to be passionate
enough about it to write it well enough
and then to start promoting it so that
other people
want to eat it and want to read about it
so you know you’re creating the growth
behind it yourself yeah i agree i have
some of my youtube videos 180 000 views
i have another one that has like 50 but
that one with 50 was something i wanted
for dinner i wanted to cook it it was
helping me learn and continue my
culinary journey so i wanted to try that
recipe out people like yeah that people
have interested i go yeah but i am and
i’m the creator i had to spend the money
for the food so sometimes you do it for
yourself absolutely and again if it’s
something that that’s good it may take a
little while but other people are going
to start to notice it you know it’s some
of the i rank for things i have no
business ranking for you know uh for uh
barbecue for for uh pulled pork and for
baby back ribs i’m like you know i’m not
a grill master but again it’s people are
looking at a guy who doesn’t do that
they can do that telling them how they
can do that right so it’s like you know
that only if yon can cook you can too
you know well
you know me not being a pit master
smoking and doing all this other stuff
with the meats you know it’s just making
it simple and you can still have
something really good at your house you
know that kind of philosophy
so if someone wanted to get into do you
have any resources that they should get
is there a book is there a facebook club
is there things they can get involved in
so that can help them make that
beginning a little bit easier absolutely
there’s a lot of facebook groups the the
central foodie blogger i can send you a
list to put on there too as i don’t
recall them all offhand but uh one of
the biggest resources for me
is i belong to mediavine and mediavine
has been the godsend for bloggers for
not just me but for we have 9 000
bloggers in the group now and they pay
us for ads it’s the largest blogging
network in the world and they all run
google ads they’re one of google’s
largest uh ad groups
and um so many resources there are other
bloggers you meet you know again i tell
people you know a competitor even as a
chef the guy down the street that might
be cooking the same thing at me really
isn’t my competitor he is
but he should be my friend
we should be talking to each other
helping each other because you know a
rising tide lifts all the boats
if you spend your time trying to bring
someone down it’s only going to hurt you
in the long run it’s going to hurt both
of you so you know when you find someone
you know
and just don’t come to a mentor and
start like bleeding them dry with
questions you know build a relationship
you know it’s about relationships we do
business with people we like right you
know it doesn’t necessarily have to be
someone that’s lower priced or better at
something it’s people we like so you
want to develop that relationship you
want to ask questions you want to be
respectful you want to don’t invade
someone’s time too much but you want to
find that person who’s willing and i’m
always willing to help people that
approach me that way you know if you
have a couple minutes is there you could
you just answer this one question or is
there how did you do this
i’m very transparent i i entered the
blogosphere when no one would tell you
anything which is how i became a chef
dennis i would learn something and i
would post about it you know that’s all
i ever did you know uh people now what
did you get for that blog post i will
tell them point blank you know this is
how much they paid me for that i’m not
hiding anything i’m not bragging but i’m
not hiding anything i’m letting you know
this is what you can achieve
you you can you know
get three thousand dollars for you know
one blog post you know i have friends
that get ten thousand dollars from one
blog post so it’s
everything in perspective you know it’s
it’s a lot of money but it’s not as much
as people are making so everything in
perspective yeah yeah so true so true so
you were doing these online cooking
classes way before they were popular and
then yeah covid the pandemic really
pushed you know everybody indoors and
the big thing you see is zoom cooking
clouds oh yeah because i’ve even done
some of those this corporate team
building what do you think of those is
that something that’s going to continue
something you’ve had a lot of experience
with well you know the chef hangout
dot com that i was part of in the
beginning you know i probably did a
couple hundred cooking classes on those
uh easy and again you know they were
very successful
but it was a limited you know it’s
something like if you’re not if you have
the time and you’re not making a lot of
money from other resources it’s great
it’s fun it’s something do i get
asked to join other groups like that
other uh media companies all the time
but it’s a matter of me spending my time
at my age now in retirement
i could work 16 hours a day if i wanted
to
okay i don’t want to right
i think home cooking classes are great i
think as as things improve they’ll get
easier to do
and they’ll be
easier to to give other people you know
the problem with online cooking classes
live
is that you have to find a time that
kind of works yeah you know if you’ve
got a following of the globe yeah that’s
the i mean i had when i wanted to follow
yeah you got different times just in
this country i did a class and i had
people in japan i had people in spain i
had people in the netherlands someone in
florida someone in colorado one class i
i did i had all these people you know at
this and the guy in japan was in the
morning and we were cooking a seafood
dish no and he’s putting it in the
window goes chef denny chef denny is
okay is okay you know he’s showing me
how he’s cooking you know i’m like oh my
god this is just insane
but you got to get alive even with like
live video live streaming now it’s
finding a time that people are going to
watch like people watch replays you know
they don’t always watch live as much
that’s where you know youtube comes in
and youtube’s so popular because those
resources are there on your time frame
right so you know i think there’s always
going to be and i think online is
getting even stronger because of the
pandemic and remote working so i still
think it’s a good and more acceptable
too that’s to do those type of classes
oh absolutely yeah so you know maybe
that will become
more available and and and again
something that will be more profitable
and again it’s up to the person that’s
running them to decide you know if it’s
profitable enough for them you know
years ago if i could make 200 in an
afternoon i’ve been hey this is great
you know now it’s like
i don’t put pants on for fifty dollars
you know it’s like
you know kind of kind of a perspective
yeah where you are in the in your in
your journey correct right
but yeah i found it with the zoom class
too nobody wants to do it on the
weekends because they’re off and they’re
doing things and then during the week
you know you got to do it after they get
out of work so that’s like six o’clock
but you can’t do it too long because
then they’re eating at night so you got
to try to find that 90 minutes 60
minutes right in there you know it makes
it a little bit more tough but they are
fun oh they are and i think if you could
get a regional one like if you could
build regional interest groups you know
which is i think sometimes we think too
globally
but say if you’re in florida and you
just attacked florida and try to get uh
you know your your readers there and
then after you develop that maybe attack
another time zone
you know that might be a way to do it uh
but again there’s there’s work involved
with anything you know nobody just hands
you money you know you have to work for
it and there’s a lot of time and work
behind it so most people get discouraged
when they don’t get that immediate
gratification or something doesn’t work
right away you know i’m the same way you
know everybody’s just human nature it’s
uh
we’ve been raised to expect more of
immediate gratification from something
as so it’s it’s difficult but it’s it’s
something that you can do if you really
are passionate about it and you enjoy
the whole thing is do you enjoy doing it
which is why a lot of people don’t cook
because they don’t enjoy it well you
gotta change your way of thinking about
cooking
you have to cook with foods that you
like to eat not necessarily what i post
you know if there’s i tell people
there’s broccoli in the recipe and you
don’t like broccoli leave it out
put spinach in put something else in you
know it’s it’s not going to kill it
uh and get to the point where you’re
cooking with if you cook with foods you
enjoy eating and you sit down to dinner
and you go wow that was good right right
next time you’re going to want to go
back in again right so true so true
so what’s next for you where do you see
yourself going in the next year five
years how are you building your business
what do you think is going to happen in
the in the in the environment that we’re
in well you know i i always spend money
to improve my business that’s something
you know it wasn’t needed to put food on
the table when i started it and it was
something i’ve always known that you
have to spend money to make money so
i’ve hired seo people this year
i always had a blog audit done but i
actually hired a company to help correct
my blog post and make them more seo
friendly
i hired someone to get me on podcasts so
you know that’s one of the reasons i’m
with you today uh a company yeah company
in colorado is is you know marketing me
for podcasts
uh again just to get the word out
before covid i had a really interesting
concept i was going to put in play
and when travel stopped i kind of
sidelined it but i was going to get bus
stop signs
uh all throughout orlando that said
what’s for dinner asked f dennis
you know and uh we may be coming back to
that revisiting that soon but uh you
know in the next five years i would like
to still be enjoying what i’m doing
still cooking still writing my blog
still helping people
discover some joy in their kitchen but i
like to get back to traveling i love to
travel and
the last two years have been kind of
quiet and you know i love cruises and
just being in other countries and eating
different food and because i’m a chef i
i get into a lot of places you know
people you know i was in madrid and
they’re taking me to all these we went
in this one kitchen it goes where they
had all the little baby pig heads lined
up that they were roasting in this oven
that had been i don’t know how many
hundreds of years old uh
you know and i go in other places they
go oh i got to eat barnacles they were
excited for me to try barnacles they
were expensive and they says we got
permission to get you barnacles
i’m like okay
kind of like a snail yeah you know glad
i got to try it not necessarily
something i’ll ever order again but i
mean when people are excited to share
something with you
you got to love it you got to be
passionate about it people i can’t wait
to take you here chef dennis and i’m
like oh my god you know okay my wife
laughs because whenever we eat out when
the chef feeds me something it’s the
best thing i’ve ever had
because of the interaction with the
person you know and later on i can be a
little more you know i can break it down
a little bit more but the time is oh my
god this was fantastic the sauce the
meat was cooked just right i loved it
everything was good and i’m just loving
life
because it’s part of
a bonding between people you know the
chef’s coming out here he’s sitting with
me he’s talking to me or even the server
recommended if they thought this would i
would like this you know i always give a
server
two to three choices before i order i
said all right what should i get this
this or this and you know i’ll let them
kind of make the decision for me yeah
you know they’ll say you know they’ll
help plead me and what i want to get um
but just when you when people see you’re
happy with something that they made for
you
you know it’s just like it just really
enriches the experience of eating and
for me if i was cooking and cooking so
it goes both ways so true so true well
as we come to the end of our chat today
before we wrap up is there any last
minute advice or guidance that you want
to leave with the listeners something
that you want to share maybe they want
to go into this career maybe they want
to be bloggers maybe they want to go to
culinary school anything you would tell
them well if you’re thinking about
culinary school i i personally don’t
think you could find a more satisfying
profession to be in you know you’re
going to work hard i always tell people
don’t think it’s going to be easy
but something that’s going to be
fulfilling to you
something that you’ll always be able to
find a job doing you know it you’re not
going to be out of work if you work hard
the rewards will be
great i mean
and i wish i had gone to a culinary
school you know all things being equal
and looking back if i had done that when
i first started i think it would have
really helped me develop a
better understanding for everything
early on in my career and given me a
good groundwork for it one of the things
i did when i was at teaching was i got
tired of my girls looking and goes oh
chef
after real college we might go to
culinary school
it’s real college you know
so i took them to to the cia up in hyde
park and they got off the bus with their
mouths just open and going oh my god
and just being there at the end of the
day i called home and says i want to go
back to school i want to go back to
school you know
it’s just such an experience you know
whether you choose johnson and wales or
some of the other local schools that are
around you know do it do it you know
learn be a sponge
live the life you know it’s just
something you’ll never regret i promise
you that it’s a it’s a
skill that will serve you in life
if even if you don’t work in the
profession uh so i would just say do it
for blogging you know like i told you
before you know play the long game
don’t expect to be
you know the best new thing on the
market but start building up your your
cred start uh developing recipes
start sharing what you love about food
and the rest will come to you it’s just
time good advice so true
well that is just about all the time we
have for this episode i want to first
thank you dennis for coming on the show
today and sharing your culinary school
story with all of us really appreciate
your time your insight and your honesty
oh thank you colin it was my pleasure
you know i love
sharing what i know about food and and
helping people any way i can okay well
thanks again i really enjoyed our chat
bye bye alright bye-bye
and a big thanks and appreciation also
goes out to all of you the listeners we
hope you enjoy the show and this episode
you all are a big part of this show so
please let us know what you think your
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