I’m a Chef, Consultant, Brand Ambassador, Event Producer and manage my own line of Cookbooks, Artisinal Sauces & Rubs called Dave’s Homemade. So yes, I wear many hats and don’t sleep that often.
How would you describe what you do?
Well it’s very unique and I’ve set myself up that way. I never really liked running other people’s restaurants it’s boring and not my passion- so , I stepped out of that world and I’ve created jobs that I love doing. So, when I’m not consulting for restaurants, then I might be teaching classes at The Culinary Loft, FCI or Stonewall Kitchen and when I’m not doing that I’m representing brands like The Perfect Puree or Ultimat Vodka creating recipes for them or producing events for Johnnie Walker. And when I’m not working on those projects then I am marketing and promoting my own brand, Dave’s Homemade or working with organizations like Let it Flow (I’m on the board) or Impact Network to bring about awareness or help them raise money through various events.
What does your work entail?
It really is a bit of everything from recipe creation to cooking on the kitchen side and all very hands-on as I do all my cooking for every event. On the business side, it’s meetings, calls and putting projects together and negotiating contracts and making things happen for the client. Then in my free time it’s all about networking and following up on all my leads and with folks that I meet out there in order to further the growth of me and my brand.
What’s a typical work week like?
I may fly out of town to cook a dinner for 10 in Dallas and then back in NYC to run a cocktail party for 80 then teach a cooking class dinner party for 25 at The Culinary Loft and have a conference call with London about restaurant consulting for a new hotel, then meet a production company about a new show idea with me as the host, then work on the menu for a new bar/restaurant across the street from my pad in LIC. (this is actually my week this week as I write this out for you, so, yes it’s true and that’s a real week for me).
How did you get started?
My path was unique in that I actually was in the technology sector right out of college and was a recruiter building the infrastructure for firms like AOL, Broadcom, Ericsson and many others and then ran my own firm in the same industry for 5 years before the market crash of 2000. Then, I went back to school- culinary this time around and started my own catering company in the middle of the program and then right into an exec chef role in a small bistro in LA, CA and then Top Chef the move to NYC and then it’s just been craziness and mayhem ever since. All self made and self created by working hard and hustling to create what I want out of life and this industry of food.
What do you like about what you do?
I love the diversity and I think it’s important for anyone pursuing a job in food to realize that there are so many things you can do BESIDES running a restaurant. That is one of the most difficult jobs out there and I respect those who do it but it is NOT for me. So, as you look ahead to build your career try various roles out there and see what you enjoy doing. You do not have to follow the pack and do what everyone else does. If you follow your passion and your dream things may eventually come through for you. It’s not going to happen magically or overnight or maybe it will but I have been busting my hump the last 8 years in NYC to get where I am today and I have another 8 years of busting to keep it all going. I love the challenge, the highs and lows and never knowing where the next great project or deal will come from but as long as I’m out there working and hustling then good things do come back and I believe the same can happen for you but YOU HAVE TO WORK HARD.
What do you dislike?
I dislike some of the same things that I love. As a freelancer and entrepreneur, you never know what will come next ? Will it work out ?
There are many days of doubt and uncertainty but they are overshadowed by the days when things work in your favor. It’s like gambling in Vegas and I’m a big gambler.
How do you make money/or how are you compensated?
I am paid in various ways based on the project, event or program that I am working on or producing. So, with my untraditional job comes an untraditional pay scale but all monies are negotiated up front with signed contracts to protect both parties. The days of getting worked over by crooked restaurant owners are over and I lost several thousands of dollars in those days. But I learned from those mistakes and they do not carry over into my current life and I encourage you to always get everything in writing. The food world is full of con artists and clowns that will take advantage of you every step of the way. So protect yourself because you will always have your best interest at heart.
How much do you make?
I’m doing okay but there is always more money to be made and with Dave’s Homemade and all of my new relationships and partnerships. I’m hoping to capture money without having to do as much work as the line starts to take off online this fall with Igourmet, Amazon and OpenSky and then moving to brick and mortar stores.
How much money did/do you make starting out?
Well since I was working 2-3 jobs and now working even more jobs I think I was doing maybe $60-$75k but I was not the norm and a major worker bee- catering, freelance and my own holiday gift basket business.
What education, schooling, or skills are needed to do this?
Well I have a BA Degree along with a Culinary Degree and a whole lot of street smarts from my other career and now from my time in NYC.
What is most challenging about what you do?
It’s all exciting and challenging. I love that I am pursuing my passion and growing my business and my brand and it’s not just challenging but rewarding, most of the time.
What is most rewarding?
I love cooking for people, teaching people to cook, eating and drinking wine with friends and co-workers and just really enjoying life since it’s food and cooking and it should be fun and put a smile on everyone’s face.
What advice would you offer someone considering this career?
You better love food and hard work otherwise it’s not gonna work for ya. I eat , sleep and breathe food, wine and spirits and I think what’s helped me to get this far.
How much time off do you get/take?
It varies but usually the first quarter of each year is a slower time, so I try to travel then and enjoy the sunny beaches and tequilas in Cancun.
What is a common misconception people have about what you do?
That because I don’t run a restaurant I’m not successful (so not true as I said before there are more opportunities in the culinary world then just restaurant chefs) or that I have it all made and it’s super easy just because I was on a television show.
What are your goals/dreams for the future?
Build my brand, my own cooking show (NOT a stupid one) , make more money and just be able to be happy at the end of the day and to share it all with my close friends and family.
What else would you like people to know about your job/career?
You tell me what else would you like to know ? feel free to reach out to me at [email protected] if you have other questions you’d like to ask. Remember the world is you oyster but it’s up to you to make it happen. …unless you’re just really lucky.
Hi, Leassa….math is important but it’s easy once you start working with it and it all will make sense…don’t worry it’s not calculus or physics and you can always use calculators and other tools for conversions until you are able to do it on your own. 🙂 dave
what type of math (other than fractions) do you use, and how complicated is it? i want to be a pastry chef, but heard you need to be good at math to do so. could you give me an example of when and how you might use/apply math for the job?
what type of math 9other than fractions) do you use, and how complicated is it? i want to be a pastry chef, but heard you need to be good at math to do so.