Podcast Episode 13

Award-Winning Chef Charles Carroll On Managing a Country Club Kitchen

Charles Carroll | 38 Minutes | August 31, 2021

In this episode, we speak with Chef Charles Carroll, an award winning-author, eight-time Culinary Olympian, speaker, producer, and Executive Chef of River Oaks Country Club in Houston, Texas.

Charles has traveled the world mentoring and speaking to chefs, students, and culinary professionals. He has received over ninety national and international awards, including chapter Chef of the Year in 1988, 2005 and the American Culinary Federation President’s Medallion four times.

In 2011 and 2013, Charles organized Operation Honoring Our Troops. With 21 celebrities and a support team, he raised $450,000, produced 8 shows and fed 8,000 troops a home-cooked meal in the middle of a war zone in Afghanistan. He later received the Honorable Order of Saint Martin Award from the US Army for his support of the soldiers based in the Middle East.

Listen as we chat with Chef Charles about mentorship, managing a country club kitchen, service, and the current state of the culinary industry.

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Notes & Transcript

TRANSCRIPT

Kirk Bachmann: Hi everyone. My name is Kirk Bachmann, and welcome back to The Ultimate Dish. In today’s episode, we’re speaking with Chef Charles Carroll, an award-winning author, eight-time Culinary Olympian, speaker, producer, and executive chef at the River Oaks Country Club in Houston, Texas.

Charles has traveled the world mentoring and speaking to chefs, students, and culinary professionals, inspiring them to reach their full potential. He’s received over 90 national and international awards, including Chapter Chef of the Year in 1988 and 2005, and the American Culinary Federation’s President’s Medallion four times from four decades. In 2011 and 2013, Charles also organized Operation Honoring Our Troops with 21 celebrities and a support team, he raised $450,000, produced eight shows, and fed 8,000 troops a home-cooked meal in the middle of a war zone in Afghanistan, for which he received the Honorable Order of St. Martin Award from the U.S. Army.

Join us today as we chat with Charles about mentorship, Culinary Olympics, show production, traveling the world, and the current state of the culinary industry. Welcome Chef!

Thank you for chatting with me this morning. How are you? You look great!

Charles Carroll: Thanks, man. It’s always a good day when I have a chance to chat with you. Pretty excited to be here.

Kirk Bachmann: Great. I mean, I haven’t been in your office in a long time, but look at that! It’s like Hollywood! It’s like one of those old Italian restaurants in Chicago where the celebrities come in. Everyone’s on that wall!

Charles Carroll: I’m a big fan of picture-takers. I like a lot of pictures. Our house is full of pictures, so I guess the office kind of followed suit.

Kirk Bachmann: memories, right?

Charles Carroll: That’s right.

Kirk Bachmann: I like the new glasses, by the way, too.

Charles Carroll: Thank you.

Kirk Bachmann: it’s a good look.

Charles Carroll: A little gray coming in over here…

Kirk Bachmann: At least you can say that! At least you can say that, right. I interview a lot of people, as you do. I don’t know if i’ve ever felt more comfortable with a chef. You’re a true chef-gentleman, I like to say. Boy, I’m really looking forward to chatting.

Feeding the Journey

I’ve known you for years, but here’s the big question, Chef. Who is Charles Carroll? A man of many talents, many acheivements, and you’re so humble. You’re a decorated chef. That’s a lifetime for many people! You’ve run one of the finest clubs in the nation in Houston, Texas for over 20 years. You’re a dynamic speaker, organizer of Operation HOT, which we’ll talk about in a minute. You write books. You inspire others. When you’re going up an elevator and you introduce yourself to someone, who is Charles? Who are you? How do you introduce yourself?

Charles Carroll: I don’t know, Kirk. First of all, let me say this: I’ve enjoyed our friendship over, I don’t know how many years now? Maybe 15, 20? You’re a great inspiration. I remember back in the Cordon Bleu days when we first met. You’re well-respected in the field, and I’m blessed to call you friend.

Kirk Bachmann: Thank you, Chef.

Charles Carroll: I just want to say that because I look up to you. You’re a great organizer, and everything that you touch is rock solid.

Kirk Bachmann: So sweet. So kind. Thank you.

Charles Carroll: I think when I was getting married 30 years ago – it’s my 30th anniversary in October, by the way –

Kirk Bachmann: Congratulations! Wow!

Charles Carroll: I think if my wife knew half of this journey, she probably would have thought differently, but I think that the first or second Olympics when I met her, I thought it would be just a one-time deal.

We learn things about ourselves as we go, and what I finally learned about myself maybe seven to nine years ago is that I have to be doing something. There has to be something else. I know it drives my wife crazy. Just coming in to work isn’t enough to fill my tank, so I need to find what does. Sometimes each month or each year it’s something different. I enjoy that part.

I study entrepreneurs and the lot. I don’t know if I consider myself an entrepreneur yet, but I study it hard, and there’s always a project.

Kirk Bachmann: I love that. It’s very motivational for our culinary student listeners. Keep yourself busy. It’s sequential, right? It’s one great event after another.

Culinary Olympics

You mentioned the Culinary Olympics. The Olympics that we’re watching now in Tokyo is a lot. Let’s talk about the Culinary Olympics, which occur every four years, typically in Germany. I know you’ve won countless medals over there. You’ve coached the team. Can you summarize for our listeners a little bit about what the Culinary Olympics are and what sort of preparation is required to even go over there?

Charles Carroll: it’s kind of sad that it isn’t covered more in the media. To be an Olympian, I think it is accurately described. You put in as many hours as the athletes you’re seeing on TV right now. It is every four years, usually in sync with the sports Olympics. Basically, you get on a team three years out, and you get together every single month and you train.

Typically, you would be a young person doing it. You’re working 60-70 hours for your property, and then you turn around and work another 20 hours honing in on your craft. Then once a month you fly somewhere and train, and basically get your teeth kicked in and work 15-hour days, and then you jump on a plane and come back. Then everybody in your workplace says, “How was Florida? Must have been nice.” But you never see the light of day.

Training is brutal, but I wouldn’t be the culinarian I am today without that. They say being on an Olympic team is three years of your life, but you get ten years worth of experience. I’ve been blessed to be part of eight different teams in all aspects: as a player, as a coach, as a manager, and finally as a judge and ambassador. I’ve turned that page now, and it’s fantastic.

Kirk Bachmann: Now you’re a mentor to others. I was just going to ask: having the assumed luxury of being the executive chef of a club while you’re trying to train for something like the Olympics, is that a curse or a blessing? That you’ve got the facility that you’re still trying to operate as the members would expect. Did you do a lot of training while you were at the club, or did you have to remove yourself?

Charles Carroll: 100 percent. The answer to the question is it is a blessing. River Oaks Country Club is an amazing club. I’ve been here 21 years and I drive down the boulevard and I say thank you that I’m blessed to be executive chef here.

I want to say, too, that sometimes jobs are hard. Sometimes people hate their jobs, or they get bored, right? I’ve been here 21 years, and I haven’t been bored a day, because it’s so damn busy and the members constantly want the best. As we speak, as I’m running around the day, there’s a whole crew tearing apart the east end of the building and there’s a $25 million renovation starting today.

Kirk Bachmann: Amazing.

Charles Carroll: There’s always something. I have a staff of 75 here. At the club we have six kitchens, three restaurants, and we average around 80 to 100 banquet functions a week ten months out of the year. It is a monster. it’s a big property. It’s busy, but there are always some culinarians that want to stick around after and help you with a program because they want to learn more about the Culinary Olympics.

Then, eventually, we made River Oaks Country Club the headquarters for the regional team I manage. That was pretty handy. We hosted them here.

Global Leadership

Kirk Bachmann: That’s great. You mentioned the word “ambassador,” and I know that you spend some time as the head of WACS – World Association of Chefs. Again, where do you find the time? Talk a little bit about WACS and you’re time there. I know that was really important to you. It’s a very international organization. You’re going across borders. You want to talk a little bit about that.

Charles Carroll: Sure. It’s global: 115 countries and over 10 million chefs. That happened by accident, by the way, Kirk. In around 2010, I was a speaker in Chile at the World Chefs. That was my first congress; think about that for a second. It was my first congress in 2010, and I ended up being the president in 2016, so it’s ridiculous how it happened.

I hit it off with the president of the time. I invited him over here. I put on a couple of symposiums, and he was a speaker. He liked what I was doing at the club and how I did the symposium, One Full Day of Culinary Excellence. He liked it so much, he said, “I want you to be my congress chairman.”

I said, “No, I can’t do that.” One thing led to another, and we went to the ACF convention. He was still on me.

“You’re going to do it. You’re going to do it.” He was telling everybody I was going to do it. Then he got onstage and said, “I want to introduce to you the new congress chairman for World Chefs. Charles Carroll, stand up.”

I hadn’t said yes!

Kirk Bachmann: Oh my gosh!

Charles Carroll: So then, I just ended up being congress chairman. That was very, very difficult. We were in Korea several times. Imagine setting up a convention, period. Imagine setting that up, but imagine doing it globally.

I did Korea, and Norway, and Greece. Then the vice president had to step down. His wife had taken ill. He said, “You might as well be vice president. Everybody’s going to vote for you. You’ve been to all the meetings, you know what’s going on. it’s an easy transition.”

I said, “No, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t.”

And I ended up being vice president. Then a few months later, the president had to step down. So I was in the wrong chair at the wrong time when the music stopped, and there you have it.

I was traveling around 125,000 miles a year all over the world. I didn’t see much of it. I was in board rooms and halls most of the time speaking and that kind of thing. Really, an amazing experience and I’m proud to say I have friends all around the world.

Kirk Bachmann: That was an amazing time. While you were in that role was when I got a lot more involved with WACS. I felt more connected because you were in that seat. I became pretty close with John Clancy, who I still talk to. Great, great organization.

Let’s talk about the club just for a little bit. I’ve been there a couple of times for events that you’ve hosted there. First of all, beautiful. You mentioned the drive in is absolutely unprecedented. I had the good fortune early in my career to spend a little bit of time at a private country club in Oregon, and it was a wonderful time. The drive up, the golf course, the level of expectation from the members and such, and the community.

Lighting Lessons from the Kitchen

One thing I remember that stands out with me: years ago, you were really proud that you were putting in a completely new lighting situation. I’m probably triggering some memories. It was all about enhancing the appearance of the food, right. Is that still a passion of yours, the lighting in the room?

Charles Carroll: Sure. What you’re talking about was in the kitchen in particular. One of my pet peeves is lighting. We’re blessed to also have a ten-foot opening to the golf course in the kitchen. When you close those two doors, it’s a different environment. It’s just different environment. We’re able to keep those open 98 percent of the time. That changes it. I walk into some kitchens, and they seem like dungeons.

It’s one of the points I make in my book, “Leadership Lessons from a Chef,” it’s the first thing you do. When I came down here, it wasn’t about the food. It wasn’t about changing the menu really quick. It was about three things: work on the environment, the sanitation in the kitchen, work on the professionalism, and then work on the family meal in the cafeteria. Because we need to make sure our people are happy, and if we keep our people happy, we keep everybody else hyappy. If the environment is fantastic, they want to come to work.

When I walk into people’s kitchens, and they’re dungeons, I say, “You know what? There’s over 200 different kinds of lighting available. I would get your maintenance engineer involved and have a professional come in. You tell them, ‘I want a piece of medium rare beef to look like a piece of a piece of medium rare beef. Not purple, not gray.’”

If you’re doing shows in auditoriums, you have all the flourescent lights. Flourescent lights are terrible. We have incandescent lighting over all the workstations in the kitchen now, and we have flouresent lighting in the aisleways. We’re actually able to dim those for special events in the kitchen as well. I’m a lighting freak, whether I’m at home having a glass of wine with my wife or in the kitchen, I like to have the lighting in a particular way.

Kirk Bachmann: There’s going to be all kinds of listeners going into their places of work tonight and harping on their boss, “i want some incandescent lighting put in right away.” Is it better on the eyes, too??
Charles Carroll: Yeah. Even if their not able to do the incandescent lighting, the bulbs, that’s okay, too. Have the pros come in. Again, there are over 200 different kinds of lighting. There are all kinds of different flourescent lighting [the pros] can use to make your food look better, and to be more comfortable and easy on the people. I wish you could see our walk-ins; they’re so brilliant, you feel like the sun is shining in there. It’s an easy fix.

I remember the day I came down here to River Oaks. It was an old, old kitchen. It took about a month or so to get it set up. But the next day when the employees came in, they felt like this weight was off their shoulders. “Oh my God! What happened? What’s new here? It looks so clean. It’s so amazing!” All we did was change the lights.

Kirk Bachmann: Increases your energy level, too, a little bit. That’s amazing.

Country Clubs vs. Other Restaurants

With your experience with River Oaks and another club, what’s the big difference between someone that takes on the responsibility of being a country club chef versus a free-standing restaurant, your own restaurant, a hotel? I imagine in the differences. Just the staff of 75 alone – that’s pretty staggering.

Charles Carroll: I’ve had three jobs all my life. I’m proud of that. I’ve been here 21 years, four years in Rochester, and then 13 at the Balsams Resort. What’s really cool about the club? It’s a double-edged sword. If someone doesn’t like their steak tonight, guess what? They’re comign back tomorrow night. So there’s that. You do have to cater to the members, and you get to know them and they get to know you. That’s the tough part. You have to be able to handle that and know how to talk with people and do your best to make 1700 people happy.

But the really awesome thing about being at the club, and this one in particular, is that the members are well-traveled. They’re very wealthy. They’ve been all over the world, and they demand the best. They demand the best, which means you can go buy the best, and you can hopefully hire the best. That’s been cool.

The last thing I’ve mentioned already. They’re demanding, but I’ve never gone to my boss to say, “Hey, I’ve got this really awesome idea. This is what I want to do, and this is why it’s going to be great for the members. And this is why it’s going to be great for the staff.” And not once has he said no. That’s pretty cool. As long as you’re continuing to strive to be the best, they’re going to pay for it. They’re going to figure out a way to make it happen. Just like the symposiums that you enjoyed.

Kirk Bachmann: Absolutely. Are you getting on the course at all? A little bit?

Charles Carroll: You know, I haven’t played in 12 or 13 years. My future son-in-law loves the game, so I just started playing this year and I got the bug again. I love it.

I played Monday. We have a new course. It’s probably five years old. Fazio redid it. It was a Donald Ross before that. It was amazing before that! It is staggeringly beautiful. It’s amazing.

Kirk Bachmann: Congratulations on the future son-in-law as well. Life moves on, it just keeps going.

Charles Carroll: We’ll see how that one pans out, but so far, so good.

Kirk Bachmann: Don’t be so tough. Don’t change the lighting in their house right away. Ease into it.

Okay, you’re busy. You’re traveling. I’ll never forget: we were at a conference. I can’t remember whether it was in Denver or Dallas. We were both up for an award and I was a little nervous. You’re used to it. You came all the way across the ballroom and rubbed my shoulders a little bit and relaxed me a little bit. I was sitting at a table with ACF directors and such, so I was like, “I better win this thing.” Otherwise I’ve got to crawl underneath the table. You’ve just always been super humble.

You’ve got your eye on the American Culinary Federation and all the things you’re doing at the club, and then you start producing shows! I remember conversations we had a few years ago. This is really a passion of yours, this producing. Whether it’s the radio show or taking a team of unbelievable talent over to Afghanistan. When did that passion enter the picture, and how long ago was that? Maybe a decade ago now you started thinking about that?

Serving the Troops

Charles Carroll: I want to say ‘11 and ‘13. I can blame Chef [John Folse? [00:17:38] for that because I think in ‘09, he said to me, “Hey Charles, you want to go to Afghanistan and feed the troops on the Fourth of July?”

I said, “Hell, yeah! Let’s do it.”

Kirk Bachmann: I’m there.

Charles Carroll: I’d do anything like that. That would be amazing. His contact in that situation fell through. I think the Vice President was actually going over for the Fourth of July, so they cancelled that trip.

Ever since then, it was in my head. I was having a cold beer with Chief David Longstaff – who you probably know – at the convention. He’ll joke with you that was the most expensive beer he’s ever had with anybody. I told him what I wanted to do, and he said, “Oh, shoot, I can hook that up!”

Little did I know that he was in charge of all of the food for all of the military all over the world. It was an amazing thing.

Kirk Bachmann: Wow!

Charles Carroll: What turned out to be just a little demo and cooking for the troops turned into a huge production, a seven-hour show for the troops in Bagram{sp}. The first trip, we fed 3000 troops, we did three shows, and we gave away three [tons of [00:18:40] gifts. The second time we gave five, five shows. We went to Kandahar that time.

Everybody thanks me for doing it, and our membership gave us probably gave us 85 percent of that half a million dollars, which is amazing, right? But I’m blessed. Nobody needs to thank me for that. It was life-changing, and emotional. Giving out hugs and troops are talking to me about suicide, and “Thank you so much for coming.” And they were giving me the addresses and phone numbers of their loved ones so when I got home I could show them pictures and call them to say, “I met your child.”?
There’s 18- to 24-year-olds carrying live weapons 24/7. We went to [forward [00:19:24] operating bases where no one goes, out into the war zone in Chinook helicopters. We were protected by the General’s private security team. It was insane. And emotional.

Kirk Bachmann: Obviously, big thanks for doing that. Even when I watch the production, a summary of it, and you talk about how moving it was, there’s a point towards the end of the production when you’re ready to depart, and I could tell. I’ve known you long enough, I could tell you were at a loss for words, you were so overcome by emotion of what the event meant.

It’s really special, Charles. If that’s the one thing that rises to the top of the resume when it’s time to just retire to the golf course, it’s a pretty beautify thing. Congratulations.

Unforgettable Moments with the Troops

Charles Carroll: I get emotional just thinkign about it. By far, really, the most special thing in my life, in my career, other than my family. We went to the hospitals to give away gifts, and there was a guy that just had his leg blown off. (I could tell you so many stories. I don’t want to hijack the interview.) But the alarm went off when we were in the hospital. I say hospital, but it was not like you’re used to seeing. So everybody in security pushed us to the side, and here they bring in a Taliban, all bloodied up, with two S-Corps that could speak the language, just in case the guy said something they needed. We were right in the middle of that.
?I sat on this guy’s bed, and I had on a t-shirt. I said, “Where are you from?” And he told me, “Philly.” And we happened to have some Philly sports paraphrenalia. So I started to give him that, and I’m sitting there. I’ve planned this trip for a year. I’ve choreographed the music, and the gifts, and the spiritual pieces, and all this stuff. Very little sleep, the travel, and all that, and coordinating all these people. And I got to the first guy in the hospital, and I didn’t know what to say.

I said to myself, “Charles, you better stand the hell up. That’s why you’re here, you dumb ass. You better stand up and say something. This guy just got his leg blown off!” And I didn’t know what to say.

Then he said, “You’re the chef, aren’t you? You’re the chef of this group? Come over here and sit down.” Here’s a guy who just lost his leg, and he’s trying to make me feel comfortable. I could go on and on. But who does that, right?

The military has officially changed the rules. They no longer allow civilians to do that. If you’re going to go to Afghanistan to entertain the troops, you go two different ways, the NWR or the USO. That’s the only way you go. So Operation HOT broke all the rules. We just went in the back door.

Kirk Bachmann: Changed your life in many ways? Defined who you are going forward.

Lessons from a War Zone

Charles Carroll: For sure. There’s one huge lesson that came out of that. [In the military] if you’re going to move a garbage can from one end of the kitchen to the other end of the kitchen, you need ten different pieces of paper authorizing you to be okay. So to pull that off was really and truly a miracle. Chief David Longstaff, he’s the guy, the miracle-maker.

What I learned from that is that nothing will ever phase me. I was in a war zone when we couldn’t get a flight out. We didn’t have a plane. There was a war going on. So I said, “No problem.” During our second trip in Kandahar, we had a huge Vegas-style stage with two ten-foot TV screens on the side, and pipe and drape going across and a ten-foot flag. All of a sudden, a wind gust came in and crashed the whole stage four hours before the show time.

Nothing phases me anymore. “Okay, let’s take a deep breath. We’ll figure this out.” That was a big lesson for me.

One last thing I’d like to say about that. I wasn’t getting shot at. I never once felt in danger, but there’s 30,000 troops on this base. We saw missions going out every day, all day. We could hear the gunfire, we could hear the different things going on all night. We could hear all this, and the jets 24/7. We were in a medivac area. They went out for a rescue mission. We saw all that. But I never once felt in danger, never once felt my life was in danger.

But when we went back to the safe zone in Kuwait, I was so drained. It took me almost two weeks to get out of this funk that I was in. I can’t describe it. I guess it was all the emotions and what we saw and experienced of what our young people are doing for us overseas. The talent that we have over there so we can live our lives every day. It took me all of two weeks just to function again. And I wasn’t getting shot at.

So I just want to say to those folks who are out there listening, man, when you meet a military person, you thank them, because you just can’t imagine what they’re going through.

Kirk Bachmann: So well said. 100 percent agree. Again, from all of us in your network, special thanks. We can never forget.

State of the Industry

Let’s talk about the industry a little bit. We’re flirting with coming out of the pandemic. We’re trying to reopen this beautiful industry of ours and continue with the craft we love. Any general thoughts on the state of the industry right now? Maybe a little different in Texas in other parts of the country, a much bigger state and all that. What are you seeing out there, Chef?

Charles Carroll: Let’s hope that we’re coming out of it. I’m a little nervous, to be honest with you, because there are a lot of bad numbers coming out right now as we speak. We’re probably going back to masks at the club at some point. Let’s hope that it’s coming back.
?What a reset! Never in a million years would we ever have dreamed that this one thing would affect every single person in the world, whether you are a child going to school, and the hospitality industry is no different.

I have a lot of thoughts on it. I think we’ll get back to normal, whatever that is, here at the club. One thing about being at a club, you mentioned it before: whether there are hurricanes or floods or bad weather or pandemics, whatever the case is, we’re still going to be busy. Our members are still going to come to this club. So there’s that.

Kirk Bachmann: it’s a safe place for them, too.

Charles Carroll: That’s right.

Let’s talk briefly about how it’s changed. People can work from home. Huge towering office buildings are almost empty. Think about all that. But what does that mean in the hospitality industry? I don’t have that answer, but I’m seeing a lot of restaurants now that are open dinner only, and a lot of that is because they can’t find the help.

What’s the reset for us in the hospitality field? What it is it? We can’t work from home, so what does it mean? I think maybe the one good thing is that employers and employees are going to figure out a way to not work 80 hours a week. I think that could be a good thing.

For the owners, I feel bad for them because we’re going to start paying more people more money. That’s difficult to do when you get pennies on the dollar. For instance, I’ve hired three past executive chefs. This is what I think our version of working from home is in the hospitality field. They don’t want to deal with the 80 or 70 hours. They don’t want to deal with all the B.S. meetings and budgeting and blah, blah, blah. You know what, give me my 40, 50 hours. I take a big pay cut, but I’m going to go home. I’m going to go home and I’m going to have a real life, and I’m going to get to know my family again.

I think that you’re going to see some of that, and possibly people figuring out, “You know what? We don’t have to be open breakfast, lunch and dinner. If I just open dinner, I can cut all my expenses down, my labor down, all down. And I can almost make as much money.” There might be some of that coming. Just a few things there.

Kirk Bachmann: Appreciate that. We’ve been very, very fortunate to see how resilient young culinarians really are, both in our online programs and on-ground in Austin, not far from you, and right here in Boulder. It really makes me happy. I’m looking at my pastry kitchen right around the corner here, and we’re still in mask protocol and all of that. It’s been unbelievable to think about, not only our small children, but also our college-age students who are so focused and so motivated to finishing their education and following their passion. They’re doing it in a very regimented way. I’m pretty excited for what this new generation will bring for the industry. If the industry is able to tee them up with better benefits and more manageable hours, we all win.

I’m going to shift a little bit. Remind me, your bride’s from Denmark?

Charles Carroll: Norway.

A Message for the Tough Times

Kirk Bachmann: Norway. I’ve always had a passion for Scandinavian cooking. You’ve been everywhere, from Norway to Malaysia to Afghanistan, and so on and so forth. You’re mentoring students. You mentioned the Cordon Bleu, back in the day, where you went to some of our schools. What is the message, and has that message changed over the last decade?

I know that you’re about pouring your heart out and inpsiring people to achieve greatness, which turns someone into a great leader, which I can really appreciate. Has the message changed in the last decade? Obviously the pandemic, like we just mentioned, has added another complicated layer to all of that. Talk about your message to young culinarians, and young people, period.

Charles Carroll: Here’s the thing. I think there are things that are changing. I enjoy speaking. I enjoy that whole thing. One thing that was an “aha” moment for me somewhat recently, ten or twelve years ago, was being okay when the plan doesn’t work. I don’t want to say failure. I don’t want to be cliché by saying you must fail, that kind of thing.

Look, I’ve tried 20 or 30 different kinds of projects. Maybe more than that. I’m on a different journey right now. We’re trying to get a TV show, we’re trying to get a couple movies done. I’m still working on some different projects. I’ve had probably 200 meetings. I didn’t always hear what I wanted to hear in those meetings, but I never had a bad meeting.

What I mean by that is that the message I would like 6to continue to shout out to our students and young professionals is to be okay when it doesn’t quite work out. Be okay when life bumps you over to the next thing. It’s not a failure. You now know that that’s not the direction you need to go. It’s just bumped you. You’ve just learned something and it’s bumped you to another path.

Some of these projects that I’ve started have started way over to the right. Ten months later, it’s 20 moves over to the right. It doesn’t make it a bad thing, it’s just bumped you to whear you’re supposed to be. If you have that attitude and you understand that, then you’re going to really excel. That’s what life’s doing to me right now, and that’s what I’m enjoying. I love that thought process.

Kirk Bachmann: Great advice. So many things to talk about. We’re definitely going to have to do a Part Deux where we can dig into some more things.

Movies and Other Projects

I definitely wanted to provide an opportunity for you to chat a little bit about your projects. Any new projects? What you can share, right? Talk about the podcast first. You’ve got over 200 episodes I think I saw, on the podcast?

Charles Carroll: I think we’re 250-ish.

Kirk Bachmann: Farmer Lee is my favorite.

Charles Carroll: I appreciate that. We’ve had a lot of fun. We had a studio downtown, and we really had a blast with it. Of course, the pandemic changed that a little bit.

The podcast has been a lot of fun. Here’s an example: my third book is called “The Recipe.” It’s about a boy who loses his dad at a young age, and he’s mad and God and mad at the world. He gets in a bunch of trouble. There’s a retired old diner chef that owns a diner. (My dad owned a diner in Vermont.) He reaches out, brings him in, and each chapter is a life lesson. In each chapter, they cook something together that’s related to life. It’s really amazing. I’m so proud. I partnered with a national best-selling author, John David Mann, who is brilliant.

Luis Guzman who’s an actor, if you didn’t know that. If you can’t picture him, google Luis Guzman, and you’ll know him right away. he’s an amazing guy. He and his son have interest in shooting a movie. That’s nothing to celebrate, other than there are conversations. That’s the reason why I wrote that book, for it to become a movie. Again, we want to touch people’s hearts and change them.

I also have worked on a TV show. It was bumping us. I actually raised the money and produced The Sizzle. The Sizzle actually won a Telly Award, which I’m very, very proud of. We won an award!

Here I am, I’m a cook. How do you do this? How do you produce a video clip, a movie clip? You know how you do it? You start. You just get started.

Kirk Bachmann: Get it going.

Charles Carroll: Then let it bump you where you’re supposed to be.

I’ve had at least 200 meetings about this. I’m having another meeting tomorrow with a producer who is producing three movies right now. He’s working with me as a coach. Little does he know, I’m going to try to get him. I’m going to take it from a TV show and turn it into a movie, like a documentary. it’s about people who have survived against all odds. And when I mean survived, I don’t mean having a successful restaurant. I mean sometimes cheating death, whether it be drugs, alcohol, incarceration, homelessness, you name it. Mental illness has a huge spotlight right now.

But the subjects just happen to be chefs. It’s talking about politics. It’s not about traveling the world and eating different food, althought the food will be the eye candy of the show. We will go to different parts around the world. But it’s about the hero stories of these individuals. We’re having some pretty intense conversations right now about that. That’s what I’m working on.

I have side company called My Company Radio, which is doing very, very well. I’m really proud of that. What we do is we’re an enterprise podcasting services. We work with a lot of associations and private companies that want to do private podcasting for their employees, or associations, or individuals. We’re proud to say we’re 100 percent successful helping people get sponsorship, which is insane.

Kirk Bachmann: You’re a little busy! I want to make sure our listeners don’t miss that. The Recipe, you can grab it on Amazon, by Charles Carroll. The name of your co-writer again is…
?Charles Carroll: John David Mann.

Kirk Bachmann: Beautiful.

Charles Carroll: Go buy the book. It’s going to tug your heartstrings. It’s going to take you on a ride. It’s not a true story about me, but there are a lot of things in there that I’ve known or seen or was about me.

Kirk Bachmann: Inspired by. I love it.

Chef Charles’s Ultimate Dish

So we’ve come to the part of the show, Chef, where the name of the podcast is The Ultimate Dish. What is the ultimate dish in your life?

Charles Carroll: This is an easy one. Anybody who knows me knows. I’m going to say family. The ultimate dish is the one that is served when the entire family is around the table.

Talking about reset this year and the last 18 months or so: we’re fortunate enough to have a small place at the lake. The walls at the lake are covered with family pictures and memories.

One of my daughters has gotten married, and the other just got recently engaged. But one of our rules is that we’re getting together at least once a month. Obviously, it’s going to be more. There’s a contract out, and that means every third Sunday, we’re together. You guys have to come, or we’re going to come to you, or we’re going to go out to dinner. We’re going to get together and break bread as a family wherever you guys want. But we’re going to get together at least once a month.

We do much more than that, but that one Sunday is sacred.

Kirk Bachmann: When you do come together like that, are you at the stove, or do you all come to the stove together?

Charles Carroll: Mostly my wife and I, so far. We have gone out. My wife is a great chef. She worked at a two-star Michelin Guide restaurant in Norway. She’s brilliant in her own way. I have two girls, I’ve never had a son. It’s been fun with my future son-in-law.

Kirk Bachmann: No pressure, right?

Charles Carroll: He’s enjoying cooking. So every night that I’m cooking at home, but they’re there, he’s my sous chef.

Kirk Bachmann: He’ll help your golf game, and you’ll help his game at the stoves. I love it.

Hey, Chef, this has been so much fun. Thank you. You’re a gentleman. I love you. Thank you for taking the time. We’ll get together again. I’d really like to peel the onion back a little bit more. Maybe we’ll take a tour of the kitchen. I want to see the lighting.

I want to mention, too, thank you for your work on the Escoffier National Board as well. It’s always appreciated. You’re in the family, so it’s great to see you.

Charles Carroll: Anytime, obviously. I don’t take our friendship for granted and I really enjoyed knowing you over the years. You know you’re welcome any time. You always have a warm place, place to stay and a warm meal. Thank you for all that you’re doing. And what the school’s doing, too, is pretty brilliant. You guys are ahead of your time. Certainly, the last 18 months has proved that. That’s pretty awesome.

Kirk Bachmann: Thank you again, Chef.

And thank you for listening to The Ultimate Dish podcast, brought to you by Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts. Visit Escoffier.edu/podcast where you’ll find any materials mentioned during the podcast, including links, notes, and other resources. You can always browse other episodes and subscribe.

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