#26. Shari Bayer began her career in restaurants and gained experience at places like Charlie Trotter's. She later ventured into the world of public relations, establishing her own agency Bayer PR agency in 2003. Shari launched her podcast, "All in the Industry," by Heritage Radio Network in 2014 as a platform to spotlight behind-the-scenes talent in the hospitality industry. With 350 episodes and counting, her podcast features interviews with renowned chefs and professionals, providing a platform for them to share their experiences, stories, and advice.
This week's episode touches on the role of PR in the restaurant industry, debunking misconceptions and shedding light on the value of having a strategic publicist. Shari emphasizes that PR is about building relationships and effectively telling a story that resonates with the media and the audience. Shari also discusses her book Chefwise, which captures life lessons, tips, and clips from 117 of the best chefs from around the world.
Where to find Shari Bayer:
Where to find host Josh Sharkey:
In this episode, we cover:
(2:02) Shari’s restaurant background
(4:38) How Shari got into PR
(6:10) Restaurant PR and how it works
(10:41) PR for restaurants that aren’t new
(13:21) Social media’s impact on PR
(15:48) The goals of All in the Industry Podcast
(20:27) Memorable conversations on All in the Industry
(22:43) What is Chefwise?
(25:43) How Shari collaborated with chefs around the world
(33:18) Who should ready Chefwise?
(35:05)James Beard Awards and Pellegrino 50 Best
(38:35) How to join La Dame de Escoffier
(41:28) The joy of solo dining
Josh Sharkey [00:00:00]:
Welcome to The meez Podcast. I'm your host, Josh Sharkey, the founder and CEO of meez, the culinary operating system for food professionals. On the show, I'll be interviewing world-class entrepreneurs in the food space that are shifting the paradigm of how we innovate and operate in our industry. Thanks for listening, and I hope you enjoy the show.
My guest today is Shari Bayer. Shari is a publicist in the food industry, an author, a podcast host, and also a professional solo diner, which we talk about a little bit on the show.She started her career out working for Charlie Trotter, then founded her PR agency Bayer PR in 2003. She launched her podcast All in the Industry on Heritage Radio in 2014, and has interviewed hundreds of incredible chefs and hospitality professionals on the show. Most recently, almost like an extension of the podcast, Shari published her book, Chefwise, which we'll be talking a lot about today.
In the book, she captures life lessons, tips, and clips from 117 of the best chefs from around the world. The book reminds me a lot of Tim Ferriss's Tribe of Mentors, and it's something that you can pick up really at any page and see insights and inspirations from really incredible chefs. I also asked Shari a lot about when the right time is to bring on PR to your restaurant when it might not be the best time to do so, as well as just how to get the most out of your publicist team. And as always, I hope you enjoy the show as much as I do.
Welcome to The meez Podcast.
Shari Bayer [00:01:43]:
Thank you for having me.
Josh Sharkey [00:01:46]:
I'm really excited to talk to you today. I think obviously the impetus primarily is I wanna talk about your book and I want everybody to learn about your book and the why's and who's and and all that jazz. But why don't we start with the obligatory little background on yourself and how you got here today.
Shari Bayer [00:02:01]:
Who am I?
Josh Sharkey [00:02:02]:
We can get existential if you want to.
Shari Bayer [00:02:02]:
Well, thank you for having me. And yeah, my career is all about the hospitality industry and it kind of, it wasn't a straight path, but the short bio, I guess, is I grew up in Miami and I then went to the University of Michigan. Graduated liberal arts and wasn't really exactly sure what I wanted to do after college. I ended up moving to Chicago and working in restaurants. I was working in restaurants before, as soon as I could drive when I was 16 in Miami, I got a job as a hostess at a Mexican restaurant and wanted to work and wanted to be in the industry.
So I've always worked in restaurants and in Chicago, I was an office manager at a microbrewery. I went to cooking school thinking I wanted to be a chef. And then I got a job as a server at Charlie Trotter, which was like the high end of my fine dining restaurant experience. I always did a lot of things in restaurants and with chefs, but I still wasn't exactly sure what I wanted to do with a long-term career. So I ended up moving to New York in 1998 and starting in NYU's food studies program. And that led me to some introductions to people. And I had an internship at Food Arts Magazine. And I did some work a little with the James Beard Foundation. I did some recipe testing and things. And then I ended up at a PR firm in 2000 called KB Network News. That was my introduction into PR for restaurants. So that's how I never studied PR. I learned PR from doing it on the job. And we were working at the time with Todd English and Bobby Flay and opening like Sushi Samba and Tao if you were around.
Josh Sharkey [00:04:01]:
Oh my gosh, yeah I was and I remember those vividly. Hahaha.
Shari Bayer [00:04:06]:
So it was a really, it was like a really amazing introduction into not only like the restaurant scene of New York and bar scene, like what, like what it meant in New York City, but, um, that it's something I could do with my career to work with chefs and restaurants and, and help promote them. And I am not necessarily the one who had a restaurant myself or cooking or, or waiting tables. So that's kind of how I got into PR. Um, And then I started my own company in 2003. So this year is like, I'm hitting all these milestones this year and I'm coming up on 20 years of having my company, which is crazy.
Josh Sharkey [00:04:36]:
Shari Bayer [00:04:38]:
So, I've mostly worked with chefs in restaurants over the years. I didn't grow into a big company. I am still basically a one woman show and hire freelancers sometimes. I love doing the work and having a relationship with my client. So. And that then led me, when I hit the 10 year mark of my company, I was sort of thinking, what should I be doing next? So that's how my podcast was born out of the idea of working in PR and knowing a lot of people in the industry who did different things than what I did. So behind the scenes talent and hospitality. And that's how I came up with the idea for All in the Industry, my podcast, which I started in 2014, which is also crazy that it was almost 10 years ago. And that I've had the opportunity to interview some bigger names in the industry, like Danny Meyer and Massimo Petora and Thomas Keller and Ruth Rachel. And I mean, it's kind of beyond me that I've had this opportunity, but, um, I love interviewing people and talking to them. So I just keep going with it. And then sometimes I'm interviewing or talking to people who might be a lesser or no name, but they're a talent. who you might know their work, like Jimmy Youi, who does kitchen design with restaurants.
Josh Sharkey [00:05:43]:
I wanted to kind of see if we can unveil the curtain behind PR because I know owning restaurants for a long time. I've always had misconceptions about PR and then I've sort of turned the corner on how we get value out of it. Maybe we could chat a little bit about just like restaurant PR for a minute. Because you've been doing it for 20 plus years now. And what are some of the biggest misconceptions that you think chefs and restaurant owners have about PR of their expectation versus reality or sort of how it works and how it doesn't work?
Shari Bayer [00:06:10]:
Yeah, it's interesting. I mean, I think it's about relationships really and working with someone in PR that understands you and your brand. And PR is basically the middleman between the client and the media. So I feel bringing someone on board, a publicist on your team is really representing you and like getting your message out there or your message to the people who can write about it and cover it on different outlets. And nowadays that also includes social media, which wasn't something that was around when I started. So that shifted a lot with industry outreach and expectations. It's interesting because PR publicists still kind of get a bad rap for some reason, but we're not bad people.
Josh Sharkey [00:07:00]:
No. I think my biggest learning lesson was originally when I opened my first restaurants and we, and by and by we had incredible publicists. Really, really great ones. But by the way, shout out to Aaron Ginsburg. He's done lots of other things since then.
Shari Bayer [00:07:14]:
Sure. I know Aaron from his beginning days of PR.
Josh Sharkey [00:07:17]:
And you know, I think one of the lessons I learned was I think there's sometimes a misconception that you hire a PR company so that you can get in the news and that's it. And I think the biggest learning lesson, at least, and this could be right or wrong, is that like, Actually it's as the owner, as the chef, you start a whole bunch of fires and you create a very clear message and then you bring on PR to put gas on those fires, right? So if you have things that are interesting, things that, that are innovative, things that are breaking ground, things that, that are stories already, and then you bring PR on to amplify those and get them to the megaphones that will sort of get those stories to more people and crystallize the message more if you already have one, but not so much bring on PR to just get you into every publication independent of anything that you've done. That was sort of the paradigm shift for me, which happened early on. Obviously that was many, many years ago. With that in mind, I don't know. I'd love to get your thoughts on that, if, if that resonates. And then when do you think is a good time for a restaurant or a chef to bring on a publicist?
Shari Bayer [00:08:24]:
I've never heard the way you put that, you know, the way you said that in your own words. I haven't heard it that way, but that may, I mean, it makes sense to me. I mean, I think you need, it's, you know, a lot of publicists use the word storytelling. Like you need to tell a story. You need something to talk about or something newsworthy. I mean, new restaurant openings or a new business. New is a keyword. So if you're opening a new restaurant, I mean to the question of when to start, I usually say, depending on if you're looking for more short-term or long-term press, but a good like four to six weeks just to like get organized and ready for like a new restaurant opening to get the press materials or the information collected so you know what you're talking about, to get good photos of your food, your restaurant, your concept, your headshot and then you can have all that ready to go to the media when you're with an opening launch. So that's my suggestion with any new business and that's like a pretty short term lead.
But nowadays with media being online, so many outlets that it's mostly, you know, it's used to lead, need a longer lead time when everything was print, but online can be pretty fast. So I don't think you need to start so early on ahead of an opening, but I would suggest someone, if you're opening a place, to bring on PR before you open for sure, because with the media, like you're new the day, the week, the hour you open, and then it's like a couple of days later, a couple of weeks they're onto the next new thing.And even though a new, five months old, you're still a new business or restaurant, but in the media eyes, you're not. you know, they're talking about a brand new place now. So I've had some clients or people reach out to me when they're at that five month mark or later, and it's harder to generate press because it's not the hot new restaurant or place to talk about. It's not impossible. I've taken those clients on, but I think just having, yeah, knowing what your story is and why people want... to hear about your business and care about your business and come in and try your food. And because it's not, you know, just saying, oh, my cooking's the best or it's authentic recipes or you kind of need more substance there to stand out.
Josh Sharkey [00:10:41]:
So let's say that, I mean, that makes a ton of sense. So let's just say I've already opened and actually let's paint a scenario where I've been open for a year now. Um, what's the, what, what's the relationship with PR then if I do still think about hiring PR if I haven't yet. If I still have PR, how do I leverage them best to get the most out of the relationship. after an opening, right? So, you know, I think a lot of restaurants aren't always opening new locations. So what's the best way to sort of leverage PR after that?
Shari Bayer [00:10:59]:
I mean, this afternoon, I'm going to a new business meeting with a restaurant that's been open for several years. So it's not, and we'll see. I've worked with a lot of places that aren't brand new and I have to say it is harder in a sense because as they, like when a new opening, you know the media wants to write about that. Once you're open, then it's looking at what you were saying even just like, what's your story and what's the angle? My company is Bayer Public Relations, but it could easily be Bayer Public Relations, marketing, consulting, social media. Like I do, like it all kind of ties together. So working with my client to understand what their goals are and what the message is. And again, going back to the word new, I mean, so if you introduce a new dish, a new menu, a new chef, you can look at the holidays and the seasons coming up and you kind of can look at the calendar and know a little bit of what the media might be writing about or interested in, use that as an angle for getting some coverage. I definitely have had a lot of clients that it's not, that have brought me on after they're already established. I even worked years ago with Cap Sudo Frere when they were around and I was working with them when they were like 31 years old, so it doesn't matter getting the story out there.
Josh Sharkey [00:12:10]
I always felt a little self-conscious when we're working with PR and we don't have big enough stories because it's difficult. I'm curious, are there other times when you have turned down a client because you just don't know how you would help them? Or are there situations when it just doesn't make sense and you just tell a client like, look, I don't think PR is right for you right now.
Shari Bayer [00:12:56]:
Yeah, there definitely have been times where I've had conversations with people that aren't exactly sure what they're looking for, and so maybe it's guiding them to work and build your, your social media, your Instagram or your do things on your own. There's a lot, I think, of owners and restaurateurs and businesses. People in business can do it on their own. And so sometimes having those conversations, 'cause the one thing working with restaurants is the budget is tight.PR is important and it's wonderful to have, but you don't need it to operate your business. Like you need to have food and you need to have electricity and you, you know, you need to have staff. It's more of a bonus. I mean, a lot of my client lists will change over a year or years, because not everyone can keep PR full-time all the time.
Josh Sharkey [00:13:21]:
Well, you mentioned that the other things that you do for clients, marketing, you know, consultative things like that, I, I have to imagine social media has totally shifted the paradigm of how PR even works nowadays. Meaning like getting a hit on Instagram or something that has a million views may have a bigger impact than an Eater or something. A view that comes out. Like how, how has social media changed the way that you run PR?
Shari Bayer [00:14:15]:
Well, yeah, it has changed things. It's like added to the mix, I guess. Social media, I think Instagram has been the one that the restaurant community has been most drawn to because it's photos, but I've always told my clients over the years, I mean, I know this change is going on with Twitter, but I like to get on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, like at least establish your profile there. So people can tag you and in a sense PR marketing for you. Um, but social media, I mean, the influencers, uh, they've become a part of, of the mix as part as PR, like on, it depends on every client's a little different with what they're looking for and the messaging, but I do reach out a lot to social media influencers who have an understanding and a following of the restaurant industry and food and chefs, and oftentimes invite them in to experience a restaurant or tell a story on their social media platform.
I think social media has just kind of now become a part of the media outreach and it's about relationships as well. I'm not a publicist that just sends out email blasts to everyone and it's free for all. I guess you'd say it's more like knowing specifically what writers, having a relationship with them, knowing their backgrounds, knowing what they might interest them in telling a story. And I think it's the same with social media influencers, just kind of understanding like what their angle is and how they are gonna go in and cover a restaurant and what the voice is. And I think that every restaurant and client I have, it's a little different with what they're looking for and what their brand is so I try to be specific with working with influencers and media to tell their story.
Josh Sharkey [00:15:58]:
Yeah, I'm sure this podcast has been a nice little addition to all the things that you do.You mentioned how it started, but like, what's the objective of the podcast? Do you have a goal in mind of what listeners should be getting out of the all in, you know, all in the industry? It's called All in the Industry, right?
Shari Bayer [00:16:20]:
Yes. All, all in the industry. I'm thinking I wanna ask you the same question right now.
Josh Sharkey [00:16:35]
I think I last saw like 350 odd episodes. Name a chef, they've been there. Name a restaurateur. They've probably been there. What's the goal when you have these guests on? What are you hoping that listeners get out of it? Whatcha are you hoping the guest gets out of it? Whatcha are hoping that you get out of it?
Shari Bayer [00:16:52]:
So funny, because it's like you say I've had everyone on, but there's so many people I want to have on that I haven't had on yet. And so I think that's why I keep going. I just like, I don't know, I started it as a, I call it a passion project because I just love the industry and it's just something in me. It's like my work-life balance. It is just my work and it's all tied together. So I do the show. I mean, I think it's a little selfish, like I wanna hear people's stories and I like talking to them. And I mean, the goal is to have behind the scenes talent and hospitality to share stories of people who work in the industry that might not get a ton of exposure.
Maybe they have done a lot of interviews but it's kind of getting a more personal angle of like what brought them into the industry, what drives them, why they do what they do, and hopefully inspires other people to, whether it's as someone who does do kitchen design or someone who does do a cocktail program, but to inspire other people to do things that maybe they do in the industry or even just get them motivated about. life and work in itself, maybe if it's not specifically to do exactly what they do. But I just, I like doing it. I like hearing their stories. And I feel it's a great platform to have a podcast to talk to people. And I purposely did the show 45 minutes to an hour when I started because one thing as well, even as a publicist, like when you see, getting a TV hit or a segment for your client on TV is amazing.
But when you watch TV segments, usually they're like four minutes if, and it goes boom, hi, bye. And there's like, no, it's barely time to have a conversation like, I wanted to have a show where there was time to have a conversation. So most of my show, as you know, because you've been a guest to my show, is the... conversation with the guest and hearing their background, what they do today and what inspires them. But then I also have all these bits on my show. I have my, I tip it off with a PR tip. I will talk about industry news. I have my speed round. I have my solo dining experience. So the show is packed with information and it's a lot, but I feel it, I don't know. I keep going with it because I like doing it and I feel. The feedback I've gotten has been great as well. I think people enjoy hearing other people's stories. And as I said, some bigger names, but also some lesser known names in the industry.
Josh Sharkey [00:19:33]:
Yeah. It's so funny. It really is sort of like an extension and another medium of everything that you already do. You're telling stories of folks in the industry and as well as the things that you bring to the industry. I totally agree. At least for me, I struggle with the business case for my podcast because for me, it's just selfishly I get to chat with folks and learn and also to shout out people that I really love and want to get their name out there, although everybody's name is already out there. So I just love the idea of learning. Like today I get to pick your brain about PR and about your podcast. And so it is a little bit selfish, but obviously it seems like yours just keeps growing. Any really memorable moments from the show of your last 350 or so podcasts where like, oh, I still think about that to this day? Let's preface this by the way, because whenever I get this kind of question, I always feel like I'm going to alienate everybody else. It's like, let's preface it by, in no order, just if one comes to mind, you know, it doesn't mean there aren't, you know, plenty of others that are, but...
Shari Bayer [00:20:27]:
As a publicist, for me, I mean, I had Florence Fabricant on my show. And not only did it, I mean, since the pandemic, things changed a little. I was doing all my shows live. I don't know if you know this or people know this. The first, I don't know, up until the pandemic, four o'clock on Wednesdays, the show went out to Brooklyn in our studio behind, in the backyard of Roberta's. and did my show live. So I don't really, my show's still today because I'm not doing them all live, but I don't really edit the show. It's really just a raw conversation. But so, Lawrence came out to Brooklyn with her husband and it was a hot summer day and we were there and it was, I had to say it was a little, I was a little nervous about it because here I am, gonna talk to Florence Fabricant from the New York Times. And this might, if this doesn't go well, this might hurt my dark career.
Josh Sharkey [00:21:52]:
But also, if people don't know Florence Fabricant, she writes for the New York Times, she's an institution there. She's also like, no BS. I’m sure that conversation kept you on your toes.
Shari Bayer [00:22:25]:
But the spoiler alert, it went well and we had a really nice conversation and still working with her PR wise, when I have things to tell her about. So that was, I mean, that was a big one for me. I mean, Ruth Reichel is coming out too, another big name writer. And then I mean Chefwise. I mentioned Massimo, you know, I got the opportunity to interview him, Thomas Keller. It's like David Kinsch recently, and I travel with my show too, because like I was out in Los Angeles earlier this year and I did an interview with Nikki Nakayama, who's in my book. And so I tie it all together now with the show, the book, the PR mixes in, you know, it all kind of ties together.
Josh Sharkey [00:22:43]:
Okay, well, you said Chefwise, so let's just, you know, get the elephant in the room out of here. And let's talk about it, let's talk about chef-wise. Can you just give a little, like, you know, 50,000 foot overview, what is the book, and then we'll get into a bunch of questions I have.
Shari Bayer [00:23:09]
So the book came about people, I mean, I've talked about this now in some other interviews. So it wasn't my idea to do a book on chef advice. It was actually my publisher's idea, which is Phaidon. So I was talking to an editor at Phaidon about some book ideas and my interest in doing a book and they had this idea to do a chef-wise, a chef advice book and that's kind of how it came about or the conversation started where the editor, it's Emily Takoudis, if anyone knows Emily. And she’s now a friend and she's been on my podcast. It's kind of how our friendship started. Well, we knew each other through the industry, but she's like, she planted kind of the seed. She connected me with Emilia Terragni, who's a publisher at Phaidon, who's based in London.
And it was Emilia’s idea to do this book. And she put us together and we clicked. And I immediately. got the idea and the concept and kind of put together an outline of and kind of ran with it, like what the book could look like. And that's how it came about. It wasn't the traditional way of getting a book, I didn't have an agent. I just kind of got in the back door. So, and I was immediately, drawn to it and interested in doing the book because it just, as you mentioned, like everything kind of ties together with me and it all, it just kind of seemed to make sense with my career and my relationships with chefs and my love for the industry and my travels around the world, mostly solo, to different destinations where I'm always seeking out restaurants. So. I knew a lot of chefs and it just seemed like a natural fit for me to be doing a book where I'm reaching out to chefs and getting their advice about life in the industry.
Josh Sharkey [00:24:52]:
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Nice. So the book is essentially just, I don't know how many chefs it is. It says 117 chefs, and it's their advice on cooking and life. It's interesting getting life advice from US chefs. How much of those conversations were you traveling to them and how much were just, you know, calls like this? Were you on a Zoom call or something like that?
Shari Bayer [00:26:03]:
Yes, so the book is 14 chapters and it's not a cookbook. There's no recipes, there's no photos. The chapters are, it's more of a business-y sense, like a kind of understanding of what it takes to be a chef type book. So there's chapters on philosophy and sourcing and there's a cooking chapter, teamwork, inspiration. work-life balance. So that's kind of how the book's divided. And the way I approached it was, the goal was to have over a hundred chefs. So I put together a long list of chefs around the world and I started outreach to them, mostly by email.
And once they were committed, I then personalized questions for them. I didn't send every chef the same topics, knowing a little about them and also putting, trying to fill chapters in the book. I gave each chef a handful of questions, kind of guiding them into what advice they could share. I left it very open to them to like how much they wanted to share and they didn't have to answer my questions. I had Paul Carmichael, who's a, he's still, I don't know if you know him, he was in New York. Okay, so he's in the book and he's now based in Sydney, Australia. And I reached out to him and he was on board to be in the book, but he didn't answer any of my questions. He sent me his 10 chef commandments and that's in the book.
But most of the chefs kind of use my questions as guidelines. Most of it was written responses where they wrote anywhere from a hundred words to a thousand words. But I did also do some zoom interviews or WhatsApp interviews, or I received some voice memos. I know you talked to Wiley before, even on the show, Wiley sent me some, it's like, he recorded it by voice memo. So however I could get the information.
Josh Sharkey [00:28:04]:
Yep, very cool. That's smart. So by the way, it reminds me so much of, I think I mentioned this to you, this book Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss, a very similar premise. So I guess if you aggregate all the insights you got, any big takeaways that you walked away with, learnings that were sort of common threads?
Shari Bayer [00:28:25]:
Yeah, there were definitely a lot of common threads between the importance of teamwork. I mean, the work-life balance chapter was interesting too, because I mean, something probably 10, 15 years ago, I don't know if that would have been in the book or been talked about as much, because typically working in restaurants, you didn't talk about work-life balance. But that, like an understanding of that.
But that's like something newer in the industry, but there was, I mean, there was, I think what was cool about a lot of things cool about it, one of the things cool about it was I was talking to chefs from Dubai to Singapore, to Los Angeles, to all around the world. And it was, there was a consistency in their approach to sourcing ingredients or as I said, like the importance of teamwork and how, you know. II found that to be, I don't know, comforting or cool that, or refreshing that like, this is the way most chefs are thinking about how they're running their businesses. And it is a business that's also talked about in the book a lot too. Like I asked the whole chapter on business and I asked some chefs about the importance of PNL and, you know, profit loss and like understanding that.
So I think that was one takeaway, just that there is a consistency of like an approach of how chefs view running their restaurant as a business. And also, I mean, if I had to pick one, like the overall underlying message is like, it's hard. It's a hard industry to be a part of, which I knew and I know you know too. But you got to get into it for the right reasons, which is that you're passionate about it. It's kind of like, I feel so many chefs that I talked to in the book are just, it's like they couldn't do anything else. Like this is what they have to do. They have to be a chef. They have to have a restaurant. And that's why they do it, like the love of it. And then, and I don't think anyone, I don't know if TV has changed this a little bit, being like an insta success or like overnight success. Like all the chefs in the book, it took a long time to get to where they were today. So it's not, it's an overnight success. That's what I was thinking of. I think they share very openly and honestly, failures, mistakes, things that have happened along the way that led them to get to where they are today. but they didn't become leaders in the industry or where they are just from one thing. It took time.
Josh Sharkey [00:30:21]:
Yeah. Yeah, it's so interesting because, you know, I think a lot about the attributes of being a great chef, because it's actually how we think about hiring at meez. I have a filter of when we're looking for any new team member, especially in the leadership world, but really anybody, because there's these attributes of any great chef, like the ability to prioritize, the ability to, you know, having discipline, being detail oriented and organized. Obviously, mise en place is everything. And obviously, you have to be fiscally responsible. You have to create profitable menus. And all of them are really hard working. And they're all obviously creative and passionate. And these are the recipe of just an incredible entrepreneur, incredible team member, anybody that's working in a business.
And that's why it's so interesting, because the- attributes of being a great chef actually carry over to so many other industries, sort of universal. And we get asked often, I was going to like, I was going to ask you this as well, just because so often I get emails from chefs saying, Hey, I'm thinking about doing something else, right? I've been doing this for 20 years. I'm, you know, I've got my 15th restaurant or something like that to do something else. And I'm like, dude, you could do anything. You know, you have so many skill sets that are transferable. You know, you obviously have sort of, you know, started this whole sort of, you know, PR and marketing empire, but there's so many transferable skills. That's what I love most about seeing your book is you see, yes, you see the importance of like, you know, how they cook and how they think about sourcing and things like that. But underneath all of that is, you know, how they address problems, how, you know, how we think about prioritization, like the discipline that's needed, the passion that's needed.
Life balance is very new, but actually I think what has sparked so much like more incredible food is because chefs now realize like, Hey, I need to have a life outside the kitchen if I want to actually be more creative to my, to my, you know, food into my business and the creativity in my menu, because you know, otherwise I'm sort of just my apically focused on this kitchen and I don't think about the outside world. And I think that's been a great change. But I think. For me, that's what I love when I sort of read through your book is like hearing these insights from the chefs. It's more than just how to be a great chef. It's to your point. It's they're transferable, comparable to so many other things. So I'm really glad that you got it together. It must have not been easy to get all these, you know, chefs to get all these insights to you, too.
Shari Bayer [00:33:18]:
I think anyone who loves chefs in the industry will get something out of it. But I definitely think there's a lot of life lessons. I mean, it's life lessons in the subtitle. But I think anyone and you don't necessarily have to be in the hospitality industry or culinary industry to get something out of it. I think chefs talk about it more business sense. book and I also tried to have a diverse list of chefs and different styles of restaurants and cuisines. So there's a lot of best of and James Beard Award winning, world's 50 best, Michelin starred restaurants in the book, but there's also fast casual and different like levels of service and because I think hearing the perspective, you know, from. you know, leaders in the industry doesn't necessarily mean it has to be a white tablecloth restaurant with three Michelin stars. So I tried to mix that up and have just different voices, but here's a lot of information in the book. I'm just honored and grateful that the chefs were so willing and just to be a part of it because I mean, yes, it was working, getting responses from chefs could be very challenging and there was follow up involved, but overall the response was amazing and people were just eager to be a part of it. And I think people had a lot to say and wanted to share their advice from what they've learned over the years.
Josh Sharkey [00:35:05]:
Yeah, absolutely. By the way, what are your thoughts on James Beard Awards, Pellegrino 50 Best? Have you seen that change over the years and anything that you think are opportunities to improve it or move things forward? You mentioned that, for example, fast casual restaurants are in a different conversation than James Beard type restaurants that are white table. Franklin Barbecue isn't associated with James Beard or even something like Velvet Taco, a delicious, scaled taco concept. What are your thoughts on that?
Shari Bayer [00:35:23]:
Yeah, I just was thinking like JJ Johnson's in my book and he had a field trip and he was nominated last year, he was a finalist of the James Beard Awards. So I feel they are covering, and this year I was there and I feel there are more casual places or independent places that are coming up on the list last year.
He was a finalist of the Beard Awards. So they are, I feel they are covering, and this year I was there and I feel there are, there are more casual places or independent places that are coming up on the list. So my take. I mean, it's always evolving, but I like supporting the industry and celebrating the industry. So I've been covering the James Beard awards. I just did my third time on the red carpet doing interviews and I've been going as long as I can remember. It's another way to like to sell, share stories and celebrate the industry. And I went to the world's 50 best for the first time this year as well. And that was exciting for me because so many chefs in my book were there and I got them to sign my book and I got to meet them. Virgilio Martinez who won the number one restaurant in the world's 50 bestest year. He signed the book and I did an interview with him on my podcast. So yeah, I have one very special copy.
Josh Sharkey [00:36:26]:
It's so evident how much you work with these chefs and talk to the chefs. It just exudes out of you when you're, when you're talking about it. One more question about the book and then I wanna ask you a couple of things. Who's the audience who should be reading this book? What do you want them to get out of it?
Shari Bayer [00:37:00]:
I mean, any young cook, chef, anyone interested in learning more about the industry, I think this book is certainly very valuable to them and they'd get a lot out of it. Or if someone's thinking about getting into the industry or opening a restaurant, read this book, you'll know what you're getting into. So, yes, so certainly that's the audience. I think anyone who's a foodie, a food lover, or someone who's followed along with like, an Anthony Bourdain sort of career and just watches Top Chef and is just interested in chefs and restaurants, I think we'll get something out of it. There's different ways you can read the book. You can read it from cover to cover. You can just open up to any random page and read a couple of excerpts and maybe come away from that and just be inspired by that bit of information from a chef. You can look up in the back of the book in the index, like a specific chef, like a Dominique Crenn or a Wiley. If you wanna look at the chefs who are in Copenhagen or, you know, just get, so you can kind of piecemeal it and get your information. and look up what they have to say or specific chapters. But I think it's anyone, it's like an inspirational business sense book. And so I think people in any industry can get something out of it, especially entrepreneurial type people.
Josh Sharkey [00:38:16]:
Well, we'll make sure we put in the show notes all the places that you can find the book. I'm assuming Amazon's one of them. Okay. So we're going to wrap up here in a little bit, but I had a quick question. What is La Dame de Escoffier? Because I believe you're a part of this organization and I don't know a ton about it. I'm just curious.
Shari Bayer [00:38:35]:
Yes, I am a member. I became a member in 2010. So it's a women's organization. It has multiple chapters around the world now, but New York was the first one established. But it supports women in the hospitality industry, women leaders in the hospitality industry and inspiring. I mean, it's leaders in food and beverage and aspiring younger people in the industry when they become a part of it and making that and supporting their careers. So the organization focuses on education and advocacy and networking and putting that's like part of the mission and the programming that goes about throughout the year of how we support each other.
But basically you need to apply. When I became a member, the requirements were a little different, but I had to get sponsors to sponsor me to become a member. And you have to have a certain amount of experience in the industry. And it's like an application process. to become a member. And then it's like any organization, there's annual dues and like, you know, as a nonprofit and being involved and running the organization, it's pretty much based on a member supported organization. But it's been a wonderful organization to be a part of as a woman in the hospitality space and People are very supportive of one another. So I don't think I define that at all the way the textbook is supposed to define it, but.
Josh Sharkey [00:40:12]:
No, it's great. Yeah, that is what I assumed when I took a look at it, but I figured I would ask you just to get a little more color there. So wrapping up, I want to do a little bit of a Sherry Byers style outro, which is you are a bit of an expert on solo dining. So I would love to get some tips for the audience on how to do it well. And any restaurants that you think of that are like really, really servicing really well, to like, if you want to go out for like a solo dinner, which by the way, I love doing this, I haven't been able to do it in a while, but I love like sitting down at the bar, or I think one of my best food experiences ever was many, many years ago, we were working at Bel-A and then closed for a week to get a new Molteni stove, and I ended up flying to San Francisco to eat at a bunch of restaurants. And on my first day there, I ate by myself on the fifth floor when Laurent Gras was there. I still remember that meal to this day. And being by myself, I was able to enjoy it so much. It was such a different experience. So I'd love to hear tips, tricks, any thoughts you have on that. And then any restaurants that come to mind, they're like, and maybe we can stick to New York City since that's your home base of like, you're like, you have to go here if you're gonna do a solo dining.
Shari Bayer [00:41:28]:
Oh man. I go everywhere by myself. I think solo people can go anywhere by themself. That's my advice. I don't know why solo dining intimidates so many people.I don't think it's really scary. It's fun. You can meet people or you can not meet people and you can just have your own, enjoy the mea. I started traveling and dining a lot by myself, just from my lifestyle and wanting to go places and you can make plans with other people, but it's very easy to just spontaneously pop in somewhere or make your own reservation for one. So, and the more I did it, the more I realized how enjoyable it was.
I like tasting menus for solo dining because there's a lot happening. There's a lot of courses coming. There's a lot of interaction with the staff. There's a lot of dialogue. I just went out to Chile and I went to a couple of chefs from my book are there, but Rodolfo Guzman's Borago, I went there solo and, you know, chefs are coming from the kitchen, different cooks are coming out presenting dishes. There's a lot of interaction. And I find when you're solo, you can really focus on the experience and enjoy every moment and really savor the food, but also learn about what inspires these chefs to do these different dishes. And so I think when you're with someone else, a lot of times you're focused on the other person and you're distracted, but when you're by yourself, you can really take it all in.
So I suggest doing a tasting menu restaurant for people, which probably no one... I mean, the easy suggestion and also great one is go to a bar, go to a chef's counter. It's very, you just blend right in. And there's entertainment, whether you're sitting in front of a bartender or you're, I love sitting at a chef's counter. Those are, you know, you really, you watch the action, you can sometimes talk to the chefs and you might be around other soloists or other people might wanna chat with you. So between those two, I'd say, you know, if you're starting out like a bar or a chef's counter, but keep in mind, tasting menus can be amazing. I went back and tried Eleven Madison Park, you know, the new vegan menu. I mean, maybe it was sometime last year, but I went solo. Solo diners get really wonderful treatment too a lot of times because I think the restaurants that I guess get it, like they realize a soloist is making the decision on their own to come there. There's no other outside factors. Someone who's coming on their own is like, they're there because they want to be there. So I wanted to be there. And I think I'm jumping all around here, but also sushi restaurants or omakase. is great solo. There are so many amazing places in New York.
Josh Sharkey [00:44:08]:
So it sounds like your go-to is any place that does like a tasting or an omakase, which I get because I think the one issue with solo dining, at least for me, because I'm a frickin glutton, is I want to try a lot of things. You know, the best part about having the guest there is like, we get to try a bunch of the things, you know, we can order four appetizers instead of one and four entrees and then we can kind of pass them around and whatever, submit courses and things. But that's a good point. If you do a tasting menu, you get a little bit of each one. Obviously, it limits the restaurant.
Josh Sharkey [00:45:17]:
I guess those are in a sense more the special occasion type places. I mean, I go out a lot and it's, you know, some places I think the most challenging of the places where you're, you know, these like the dips and the hummuses and the large format restaurant. That's hard to do solo.
Shari Bayer [00:45:34]:
You can do small plates. I mean, recently I went into Liberty and I was at the bar. I had a couple of small plates. I think you can really do anything solo and, and you can always have leftovers too. And sometimes when you're solo, you can make friends with the people around you and next thing you know, you're sharing plates with them.
Josh Sharkey [00:45:54]:
I've heard that a few times. Very cool. Well, Sharon, this was awesome. So stoked that you got to come on and talk about the book. Is there anything that we didn't cover that you want to shout out or anybody or anything that you want to shout out to the world?
Shari Bayer [00:46:00]:
I feel like I've just jumped around, but if you want to check out the book, it's Chefwise: Life Lessons from Leading Chefs Around the World and using the hashtag Chefwisebook. I mean, probably putting this on all your notes, but you can follow me and my show All in the Industry and that's @allindustry on Instagram and my PR company, Bayer Public Relations, and that's @BayerPR. And yeah, it all just ties together. It's kind of hard for me to separate my life, but I obviously am passionate about all of this. And I appreciate this opportunity to talk about my career with you. And congratulations on everything you've done with meez. It's amazing.
Josh Sharkey [00:46:47]:
Well, thank you. I appreciate the support and it was really great to catch up. I'm sure I'll be chatting again soon
Thanks for tuning into The meez Podcast. The music from the show is a remix of the Song Art Mirror by an old friend, hip hop artist, Fresh Daily. For show notes and more, visit www.getmeez.com/podcast. That's G E T M E E Z dot com forward slash podcast. If you enjoyed the show, I'd love it if you can share it with your fellow entrepreneurs and culinary pros and give us a five star rating wherever you listen to your podcasts. And remember, it's impossible for us to learn what we think we already know. See you next time.