Podcast Episode 25

Emmy Award-Winning Innovator David Irons Talks Food Menus and Big Data

David Irons | 35 Minutes | January 11, 2022

In this episode, we speak with David Irons, Vice President of Experience Strategy for Digitas, a global marketing and technology agency that transforms businesses for the digital age.

David is an Emmy Award-Winning product and innovation strategist with deep expertise in research, data and design thinking. He’s built award-winning user-experiences for The Museum of Modern Art, AMC, Harpo Productions, Microsoft, Samsung – and many other big brands.

Listen as we chat with David about how to develop customer insights and grow your business using qualitative and quantitative data.

Watch the podcast episode:

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Notes & 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 David Irons, vice president of Experience Strategy for Digitas, a global marketing and technology agency that transforms businesses for the digital age. David is an Emmy Award-winning product and innovation strategist with a deep expertise with research, data, and design-thinking. He’s built award-winning user experiences for the Museum of Modern Art, AMC, HARPO Productions, Microsoft, Samsung, and many other big brands.

Join us today as we chat with David about his unique perspective on life, and how he combines rational inquiry, technology, and adventure in all that he does. And food, right!?!

Welcome, David!

David Irons: Thank you!

Kirk Bachmann: How are you?

David Irons: Good! Glad to be here.

Kirk Bachmann: Glad to have you. Like the hat.

David Irons: Still digesting after Thanksgiving.

Kirk Bachmann: Oh, I bet. So Thanksgiving was in Arizona, right?

David Irons: Yeah. We headed down to Arizona, visited some family. And we also have some friends down there. It was great to catch up with family, and a lot of good food.

Kirk Bachmann: Yeah.

David Irons: Important for Thanksgiving.

Pizza in Phoenix

Kirk Bachmann: Well, our audience is going to figure out pretty quickly that we’ve met and that our families are pretty close. Joseph Henry missed Oliver over Thanksgiving for sure. Good to know that you got down to Arizona, and as I recall, there’s a little pizza story in there somehow. Right?

David Irons: Yeah. Sylvia and I lived in New York City for fifteen years. We became friends with a couple, and the husband was from Salerno, Italy and worked his entire life as a pizzaiolo. They decided to move back to Salerno and open up a pizza place in Salerno, which is a pretty brave undertaking if you ask me.

Kirk Bachmann: Yeah. You better be good!

David Irons: But they recently moved back. Covid hit Italy pretty hard, particularly southern Italy, so they recently moved back to the Phoenix area. There’s actually, strangely enough, a pocket of really good pizza culture going on in the Phoenix area.

Kirk Bachmann: Yeah. We’ve talked about that before, because no one in Phoenix is from Phoenix. Whatever you do, you better do it well because people are going to expect that.

David Irons: Yeah. I don’t know, but I know – I think his name is – Chris Bianco is down there in Phoenix, and he was the first pizzaiolo to win the James Beard Award.

Kirk Bachmann: Nice! Nice. Who knew? I like that. We’ll see if we can get Chris on the podcast. How much fun would that be?

So right off the bat, I love the title – I love even saying it – Vice President of Experience Strategy. Great, great title. What does it mean? What do you do?

What’s in a Name?

David Irons: Good question! What I do is aligned to this idea of design thinking. When any sort of business challenge comes up where a brand or a company or a product is interacting with people, you think about the overlay of three main things you have to consider. You have to figure out whether an idea or a concept is, first of all, desirable. Is it something people want? Is it something your audience wants? You have to figure out whether it’s viable. Is it going to make you money? It’s got to make the business money in order for them to do it, in some way, or if you’re working for an organization where maybe money isn’t the main issue, it’s got to be able to at least [reach] whatever bottom line, whatever your goal is you’re trying to accomplish, it’s got to do that. And then it’s got to be feasible. You’ve got to be able to build it and it’s got to be technically feasible. It’s got to be within the resources that are available to you.

And my job is to make sure that any of those experiences, any place where a brand or an organization is interacting with a consumer or user or an audience that the initiative is right there in the center, that sweet spot: desirable, viable, and feasible.

Kirk Bachmann: I think there is so much traffic – noise – around design thinking these days. I’ve listened to Tim Brown with IDEO quite a bit. He’s got a pretty cool podcast, or he’s been the guest on many podcasts. Everyone wants to hear about design thinking.

David Irons: We’re all drafting off of Tim Brown and what IDEO has done. [inaudible]

Kirk Bachmann: So take a minute to plug Digitas. Big company. Tell us a little bit more about that company. Are they based in Europe, or are they based in Boston?

David Irons: Most of the agencies out there in the world, marketing agencies, are owned by a big holding firm. We’re Digitas. Started in Boston, but their focus is the digital, hence the name. Digital marketing and digital transformation. I think we call ourselves “the connected marketing agency.” But they’re owned by a conglomerate called Publicis which is based out of Paris. That’s the largest marketing, PR, communications holding firm in the world. But there’s other ones. There’s Omnicom which is based out of New York, and then WPP which is either New York or London.

Kirk Bachmann: Big business these days. And you get to live in Boulder, Colorado because of this remote environment that we live in.

David Irons: Hey, look. We all had to go remote when the pandemic hit, and my lease was up in Boston. We were like, “We’ll move back for a couple of months to the Boulder area.”

Kirk Bachmann: And here you are!

David Irons: The pandemic will be over in a few months, right, and I found that my team and I were just as productive if not more productive. As soon as we took those geographic barriers off, suddenly we were able to hire amazing and diverse talent from across the United States and not just beholden to the Boston area. We actually found our work has gotten better.

Kirk Bachmann: That’s great. We’ve heard that story a lot. Same thing even here in Boulder with the culinary school. A bunch of our employees had to go remote, and they’re super productive.

David Irons: If you’re hiring – our companies expanding. Go to Digitas. Go to the career site if you’re looking for…

Kirk Bachmann: Opportunities abound.

David Irons: You take that geographic barrier off, it opens you up to so many more people, and types of people, and different thinking. Living in Milwaukee is going to give you a completely different worldview than living in Boston.

Kirk Bachmann: For sure. We’re glad you guys are back here for sure.

You’re building a house, so you’re staying. No more moving around. Like I said earlier, we’ve known each other for a bit. As I prepared for our chat today, I realized there are a few things that maybe I didn’t realize or I forgot.

You grew up in North Caroline, and as we dug a little bit into this, you were raised by your father, a research scientist focused on pathology primarily.

David Irons: Diseases of the blood. Cancers, leukemia, lymphoma, that sort of stuff. A lot of titles that have -ology at the end. Ologist: Pathologist, toxicologist anything -ologist.

Tigers in the House

Kirk Bachmann: And then as I dug a little deeper, there’s this whole notion of raising tigers, or at least one tiger while you were a child. We’ve got to talk about how having an apex predator in the house while you were, what, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 years old. How did that go?

David Irons: I don’t know. Fortunately or unfortunately depending on how you view it, it wasn’t as interesting as “Tiger King.”

Kirk Bachmann: Otherwise you’d be on television.

David Irons: Less drugs and crimes were committed. I’m going to age myself here. It was the ‘80s. At the time in the ‘80s, you didn’t have boxers and hip-hop stars raising tigers in their mansions and stuff like that. The exotic pet industry wasn’t what it was. The main concern in the ‘80s was that the habitat of these apex predators was decreasing at an alarming rate, and there was a limited number of these apex predators in captivity. So the fear was that there was going to be inbreeding.

There was a guy in North Carolina who was a geneticist and a zoologist, and he was working on methods in which to breed these apex predators together from different zoos and get new cubs to send them out to keep the genetic pool viable. Part of that is very hands-on.

It’s actually a funny story how they met. Sorry if this gets too nerdy for you guys – you can edit it out later. It turns out leukemia in cats, feline leukemia, is contagious. If your cat gets leukemia, it can give it to another cat. Not true in humans; if your friend has leukemia, you can be around that friend and provide comfort for them without having to worry about it. But in cats, it’s contagious.

So this guy had a leopard or some apex predator who had died, and they feared it might be leukemia. My dad who was living in the area heard about it, and he’s an expert on leukemia. So that’s how they got connected. My dad went in and did the autopsy. It turns out it wasn’t leukemia. He didn’t have to worry about any of his other cats getting sick. But that’s how they got connected.

This guy’s method for raising cats in captivity was to hand-raise the cubs. You take the cubs away from the mom, and you bottle feed them, and you raise them around humans so they grow up being comfortable around humans. No one’s ever going to release the tiger at the zoo back into the wild, so it’s okay.

But that’s very hands-on, so he needed help to care for the cubs. It just started off, we were just bottle-feeding baby tiger cubs, which is just as awesome as it seems.

Kirk Bachmann: Not as awesome as it seems?

David Irons: No. It was fun. It was as awesome as it seems. There were always baby tiger cubs knocking about, bottle-feeding them and stuff.

Kirk Bachmann: That’s incredible. “Hey, friends! Come over to my house! Wait ‘till you see this!”

David Irons: And finally, my dad decided, because he was the adventurous sort, that he wanted to raise one until it was full grown. We got a large place out in the woods of North Carolina and we had ten acres. We built a big, fenced-in enclosure and raised it till it was full grown and had a full-grown tiger in our backyard.

Kirk Bachmann: That’s great. What was it’s name?

David Irons: Kogo.

Kirk Bachmann: And was it a situation where you could literally go in the cage and feel safe with the animal?

David Irons: I couldn’t. My dad, as an adult, was okay going in and wrestling with the tiger and stuff like that, but I was too little. The one thing that we were always raised with with these animals is that they are not pets. They are wild animals.

Kirk Bachmann: So whether you were in the cage or not, did some of that adventurous spirit rub off on you as you grew up? You don’t have a tiger that I know of.

David Irons: No.

Parental Influence

Kirk Bachmann: But do you have the sense of adventure?

David Irons: Yeah. I think there was a sense of adventure there. Look, it’s a lot to live up to. My research scientist father who, before he was raising tigers he was scuba-diving in the ‘70s where that was a risky proposition. [inaudible] Climbing.

My sister and I used to joke when those ads came out, “The World’s Most Interesting Man,” that they must have based it off of our father because he was always into something.

Kirk Bachmann: That’s awesome. Speaking of which – I don’t know if he was the first, but he was one of the first generations of computer programmers, too?

David Irons: That was my mom.

Kirk Bachmann: Oh, that was your mom. That was your mom.

David Irons: My parents got divorced when I was young. My mom was a mainframe programmer back when it was punch cards. I remember getting old used punch cards, if you ever go look up how you used to do programming, they had these punch cards. This was how you carried things around before floppy disks or anything. You had to put them in order into the giant, room-sized computers to do various…

Kirk Bachmann: You’re aging me, too, David. You’re aging me as well. So did your mom’s career and aptitude and computer programming, did that rub off on you in the career choices you made?

David Irons: Yeah, of course. I was always fascinated by computers. I would remember going in to the office with my mom and the different places where she worked. I remember, as a kid, early, early, early version of a robot that was almost like a giant Roomba, but basically it just went down the hallway of the place where she worked and delivered mail. So if there was a mail…

Kirk Bachmann: Oh, wow.

David Irons: Before email, guys. If you wanted to communicate to somebody, you’d either call them up or you’d send an inter-office memo. Which was where you’d write it out, somebody would pick it up, and then run it to the person you wanted to send a memo to. This place had a robot that would do it. It would stop in front of your door, and you’d put the memo in and say where you needed it to go, and then it would go down the hallway and stop in front of the door of the person you wanted to deliver the memo to. I remember that as a kid, to me that was like space-age. It was like, “Wow!”

The Two Sides of Data

Kirk Bachmann: So then, fast forward, Dave. Obviously there are some real specifics, but what about research and data intrigues you even to this day?

David Irons: You know, it’s interesting, finding those patterns. We always make guesses and intuition and we try to make intuitive guesses into what people want or what they’re thinking. A lot of times, it’s not right. Or it’s right, but within the very small window which we’re viewing. It’s right for this group of people, but it’s not right for this group of people.

I think I got that from the science background and definitely was raised with this concept of the scientific method: forming a hypothesis and then collecting data, and figuring out whether that hypothesis is correct or not. So that aspect of research has always fascinated me, and I find it fascinating.

The way I’ve come to view the world is there’s two different types of data out there that you can collect. That’s quantitative data. That’s the hard numbers. We’ve looked at the behavior of thousands of different people, and we find this is what they’re doing. Connect it back to the restaurant industry: this is what they’re ordering. If we have a menu, thousands of people are coming in, and they are mainly ordering this.

Kirk Bachmann: which influences your decisions.

David Irons: But that gives you a very small framework. What you’ve determined there is “what’s happening.” What you haven’t figured out with that is why it’s happening. That’s where the qualitative research comes in. That’s sitting down and talking with people, interviewing them. “Why did you order this? Why did you order this over this?” That sort of thing is the qualitative thinking.

And you need both, because if you’re trying to use qualitative thinking – because you can’t interview thousands of people, you might only be able to interview a handful – so if you’re using qualitative research to try and determine what’s happening, you could be way off. It could just be the five people you talked to were aberrations.

But then again, if you’re using quantitative thinking to try to figure out why they’re making those decisions, again, you could be way off. It could be something that you never imagined. Maybe moving the order of the things on the menu would fix it. Maybe it’s the price. Maybe they just don’t like the other things. You won’t know until you ask them. So you can’t get a full picture of what’s happening and making a full decision on how to move forward without both that quantitative and qualitative research combined to give you that full picture of what’s happening. So you make sure the decisions you’re making are going to work.

Kirk Bachmann: You mentioned the word “hypothesis.” Do you find in your space, your sector, you’re often disrupting the status quo, what people are used to doing on a daily basis with some of the information that you discover?

David Irons: If we’re doing our job right. This isn’t about necessarily disrupting what the audience is doing. I think it’s more along the lines of disrupting what we’re doing in order to meet that audience. There’s only so much you can redefine an audience’s opinion or position.

It’s more about getting insights into why they have that and figuring out a way to meet them and either change or reinforce the behavior that you find more desirable. A lot of times, it’s finding that insight that may not be initially intuitive, but it’s backed up by the data that says we’ve looked at everything, and here’s the insight on why people are doing what they’re doing.

It’s how we can change, alter, or reinforce that behavior to have them do the things we want them to do.

Design Thinking & Menus

Kirk Bachmann: Let’s talk a little bit about food. Let’s pull food into the conversation. As I understand it, you worked in the industry for quite a while, through college, part-time, while you were also probably working on sets and different productions projects. Columbia University. I don’t know where it all comes together, but what was your focus back then? You worked in restaurants for quite a while. We’ve had those conversations.

David Irons: My undergraduate, I went to University of Colorado here in Boulder.

Kirk Bachmann: Go Buffs!

David Irons: I think I probably blame my stepmom for most of this, or thank her, I should say. Basically, she would have the kids every Sunday, we would trade off, it was our job to make a menu and cook dinner for the family.

Kirk: Alright!

David Irons: Throughout high school, I was having to figure out what we were going to cook. It was a great, great life skill. I think many of the life skills I picked up has been from my stepmom and the things that she put in place.

But I went off to college and I knew my way around a kitchen. There’s only so much bagging groceries you can do before you’re looking to do something more interesting. So actually my first professional cooking job, I was short-order cook at IHOP, just making thousands of eggs and pancakes.

Kirk Bachmann: Busy, busy, busy. Yeah.

David Irons: And hot.

Kirk Bachmann: That takes a ton of organization. Mise en place, as we know, and I’ve talked to so many people who have spent some time in kitchens and then gone on to other things. I think our audience would be curious to know if working in kitchens helped your mindset leading to success in other areas.

David Irons: Well, yeah! The stint at IHOP definitely led to that thinking as far as the organization. Making sure everything has to line up, particularly for being a short-order cook and making sure everything’s aligned. Everything has to go out at the same time, so you’ve got to know when to start what and how all the different work streams all come together to one place…

Kirk Bachmann: With a ton of noise and orders coming at you.

David Irons: Orders coming in and being able to [inaudible]. And it’s hot. If it’s 100 degrees outside in the summer in Boulder, and you’re working over a grill, it’s like 120. It is a crazy environment.

Kirk Bachmann: Gotta stay calm.

David Irons: Then I moved over and I worked at a Russian restaurant, actually, down on Pearl Street, which is the pedestrian mall here in Boulder for those who don’t know. That was more of the dining experience.

I think what I learned from that, is it’s like any creative endeavor. That whole concept of design thinking I think is the same in the restaurant industry, they just don’t call it design thinking necessarily. That idea, that process, that methodology: you empathize. You have to understand what the diners are going to want. You need to define how we’re going solve that challenge of what the designers want. Then you’re going to brainstorm different ways, different dishes maybe, or different ways of cooking something. You’re going to prototype that out. You’re going to test out for different recipes and different menus, and you’re going to test. And you’re going to get the information from that test, and you’re going to start the whole process over again.

I think any creative endeavor, which cooking, as you know, is a creative endeavor. It ends up following that paradigm.

Kirk Bachmann: I love that response. I think it will resonate with students and others in our audience. Let’s flesh that out a little bit more. Part of what you do is researching, as I understand it, as you said earlier, how people think and how they make decisions, whether it’s reading a menu or buying a car.

David Irons: A lot of behavioral economics involved.

Testing for Behavior

Kirk Bachmann: Better word. Better word. And so data is super, super important. I guess I’m fascinated by, how do you then build a program or a platform or whatever it’s called today that’s speaks to those needs? Because you have to do it somewhat subliminally, right? It can’t be too in your face.

David Irons: You don’t want to be too shady about either.

Kirk Bachmann: Yeah. Super transparent.

David Irons: There’s a good radar for B.S., so you don’t want to be shady about it. I think a lot of it is testing and data. The understanding of what you’re doing now doesn’t have to be the way you do it tomorrow. I forget who made the quote, but it’s something along the lines of, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” Don’t just keep doing something because that’s the way you’ve always done it. If the data is saying, “Change something,” then change it. Test.

It’s much better to get something out there, test it, get the data back, and make decisions off of that then to sit in the back room and ring your hands together and go, “I don’t know. This has to be perfect.” You’re never going to get it perfect, because what you’re really trying to figure out is what your diners want, what people want. So they’ve got to interact with your idea. You put in the best thinking possible. You’ve prototyped it. Now it’s time to test.

Kirk Bachmann: So cooks and chefs can do the exact same thing. It’s pretty obvious to anyone viewing what people order. I’m going to try this new item on the menu. I’m going to try this new cooking technique, and if it doesn’t move, obviously you have your answer.

David Irons: One of the things we learned in behavioral economics is this idea of framing. The menu example is the one that always comes up when we talk about framing. I’m not saying your students do this or your graduates do this, but there’s an old trick when you make a menu where if you want to sell something, you put something…

Kirk Bachmann: Move it to the top!

David Irons: The menu that you don’t necessarily want to sell that’s really expensive, and then put something on the menu that don’t really want to sell that’s cheap. The thing you put in the menu that you want to sell is right there in the middle. You’ve now framed the discussion. Nobody wants to order the cheapest thing on the menu, but they also don’t want the surf-n-turf. How many surf-n-turf’s are you actually going to sell in a night? So what you really want is that thing in the middle that you want to sell. That’s that concept of framing, and just how you make the menu and how you price things out, you can push things. And it’s not always intuitive. The cheapest thing doesn’t sell the most, and the most expensive thing doesn’t sell the most. It’s that stuff in the middle that you’ve now decided is a good price because the most expensive thing is fifty bucks.

Kirk Bachmann: Yeah. This is fascinating. I’m going to need to bring you in and do a full-blown lecture just on this because it’s fascinating, the way the mind thinks. If I’ve learned anything from listening to Tim Brown over the years, one of his primary approaches is involving the client. Whether IDEO is working with a hospital, or a restaurant, or with Google, they involve the client. Indirectly, that chef is involving the client because we can see what they’re ordering, what they’re not ordering. Is that part of your day-to-day as well? Reaching out to would-be clients?

David Irons: Yeah. There’s no good project that gets done without client involvement. We call them the stakeholders. And the stakeholders are the clients and the people who have skin in the game, and they have to be part of the process as much as anybody else, because at the end of the day, like I said, they’re the ones with skin in the game.


Kirk Bachmann: I’m going to try to embarrass you a little bit here. Lots of awards over a great career. The Emmy Award – I’ve seen in; it’s unbelievable – for best promotion by the New York Chapter of the National Academy of Televisions Arts and Sciences. You must be so proud. So when you first started out, you left CU, you went to Columbia. When did you get involved in this aspect of your career, and did you ever envision yourself winning an Emmy?

David Irons: I’ve got to tell you, I was young and dumb still, graduating college. I think it’s why I give young professional sports stars probably more leeway than other people, because when I was in my 20s, I wasn’t making good judgments or decisions either. I went off to New York, and I think my dream was I wanted to be a sitcom writer.

Kirk Bachmann: I see that. I can see that.

David Irons: Now, I don’t think they even have sitcoms anymore. For all you kids out there: look up sitcoms online if you want to see.

I got into copywriting. At the time it seemed like a great way to scratch that smart-ass itch while making a little bit of money doing it. Writing funny headlines and stuff like that. But the digital world was just exploding, so I thought, “Oh, I’ll be a digital copywriter.”

Now, digital wasn’t great back then, and what I ended up spending most of my time doing wasn’t writing funny headlines, but taking content, words that had been written for brochures and other places for brands and breaking them up into pieces and putting it on a website. We called it “brochure-ware.” But basically companies were like, “We need a website, and we’ve got a brochure. How do we turn this brochure into our website?” It was figuring out how to take that content and break it up into a non-linear format in a way that made sense.

That led into information architecture, which is how things are organized and now how websites are structures. Eventually, it sort of evolved into design, so it all just sort of came about in steps as I worked through the industry. It certainly wasn’t where I intended to end up.

Kirk Bachmann: Well, and you’ve worked for some really major corporations: Microsoft, Facebook, HARPO, Oprah’s company. Is there a favorite? Is there a unique story that you are allowed to share? I imagine you’ve seen some stuff!

David Irons: They are all fascinating projects to work on. I’m now working for Bank of America. That’s my client. All the clients I’ve worked on have been interesting in their own right. It just depends on the challenge. It depends on what’s going on, but it’s all interesting. You’d think working for a Microsoft or a pharmaceutical company or something like that would be so boring that you wouldn’t be able to handle it. But once you get into the challenges and solving those challenges for the user, I think it’s all interesting. It’s all fun.

The Next Big Thing?

Kirk Bachmann: And it’s a long way from IHOP. So as we talk about the future and a lot of this happening. I’m a little older than you, so a lot of this happened as I was a little bit older and I watched my kids being exposed to social media at such a young age. From your vantage point and from what you see, is there an obvious “next big thing” in the digital world?

David Irons: I think they’re pushing a lot of next big things, but I don’t know what it’s going to be. I think NFTs and cryptocurrency are definitely here to stay. I don’t know if they’re going to continue to go on the rocket-ship ride that they’re going on, but I think the cat’s out of the bag on that stuff and that’s here to stay.

I want VR to be something ever since I was a kid. I think the holo-deck on Star Trek was [inaudible.]

Kirk Bachmann: I agree. I agree.

David Irons: I don’t know if it’ll ever happen or how fast or how slow it’s going to be. I see what Facebook and Meta is doing, and I have reservations about how awesome it’s going to be. It’s like every time somebody shares – not every time, it’s an exaggeration – it seems like a lot of times somebody shares what they’re doing with robots and AI or VR, it more resembles something from a post-apocalyptic sci-fi novel than some future that I would actually want to live. They’ve got to figure that out.

Kirk Bachmann: You read a lot about this Meta. You mentioned Meta, Mega-verse, or however they like to refer to it. I’m not going to hold you to it, but do you believe that that concept will shape our digital, our virtual futures, if you will?

David Irons: Eventually. I think it’s pretty far off. I think AR, augmented reality, is the idea of instead of closing yourself off from the rest of the world, putting a digital layer on the world. I think that has more potential, and as soon as the technology comes where it can fit in a pair of glasses like this and you don’t have to look like an idiot with some giant robot headset on, I think that’s the killer app that’s waiting. That’s what’s going to make it killer is the form factor. Apple is secretly investing in that sort of stuff. They’re definitely sitting there waiting to pounce and figure out. Apple tends to do the trick where they wait for everyone else to make the mistakes and then they release the perfect form of it.

Kirk Bachmann: Otherwise known as brilliance, right?

David Irons: So they’re just waiting for Facebook to make all the mistakes and learn from those mistakes. I don’t know. AR, VR, I don’t want to discount it. I wouldn’t hold your breath on that one for now. Or it will exist, but as something fun, like a way to play video games or something.

Kirk Bachmann: Gaming, yeah.

David Irons: I don’t picture us all having VR meetings any time in the near future. Next thing, I’ll be proven wrong, but that’s about it.

Kirk Bachmann: Well, if we do, you’ll be invited and I definitely need to get you in front of our students talking about framing – I’m going to use that word – and menu design.

But we’re getting close to the end of our time, but before I let you go, you know that the name of the podcast is The Ultimate Dish, so in your life and in your family, what is the ultimate dish?

David Irons: I’m going to have to go with something involving barbecue.

Kirk Bachmann: Oh. Okay.

David Irons: Family event, smoked meats, maybe not the healthiest food for you, but yeah. Anything barbecue is probably the height of cuisine. All the flavors and the experience. Weather’s great, and everybody’s in the backyard sort of things.

Kirk Bachmann: It talks to family. It talks to partying. But I’ve noticed with you over the last two years or so, you’ve really committed to a I’m not going to say vegetarian diet, but you have really committed to healthy eating, right?

David Irons: I’ve been plant-based for a few months now. I took a break over Thanksgiving so I could have some turkey.

Kirk Bachmann: Good for you. Good for you.

David Irons: But yeah, I try to be mostly plant-based these days.

Kirk Bachmann: And that’s all we ask, right. 80-20. Just eat more plants, more frequently.

David Irons: I think I’m probably 90-10, or try to be. That was because of health reasons. I feel better. But it doesn’t mean that every now and then I’m not going to sneak a piece of bacon.

Kirk Bachmann: We won’t tell. We won’t tell. And you can tell by the titles on the books behind you that there are little ones in the house.

David Irons: Oh yeah. They don’t do with the plant-based.

Kirk Bachmann: I love it.

David Irons: “Hot dogs aren’t plant-based?” It’s like, “No.”

Kirk Bachmann: Hey buddy, thanks for joining us. I really, really appreciate it. We’ll have you back. Best wishes. I look forward to hearing Sylvia singing in about 10 days at her graduation.

David Irons: Yeah. This has been fun. Have me back any time.

Kirk Bachmann: Absolutely. Thanks buddy.

David Irons: Thank you.

Kirk Bachmann: 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 notes, links and other resources. You can also browse other episodes and subscribe.

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