In today’s episode, we speak with our guest Jocelyn Delk Adams, author behind the award-winning cookbook and her eponymous food blog, Grandbaby Cakes.
In this episode, Jocelyn shares more about her decision to leave her 9-5 job to pursue blogging full-time, how she began authoring cookbooks, and her advice to beginner bakers. She also delves into her experience as a national TV personality, co-hosting Stab That Cake on Cooking Channel and Discovery+, alongside being a regular on the TODAY Show and Good Morning America.
Listen as Jocelyn chats about her newest cookbook Everyday Grand: Soulful Recipes for Celebrating Life’s Big and Small Moments, the artistry behind soulful baking, and her ultimate dish, Big Mama’s peach cobbler.
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Kirk Bachmann: Hi everyone, my name is Kirk Bachmann, and welcome back to The Ultimate Dish. Today, I’m speaking with Jocelyn Delk Adams, founder, cookbook author, national TV personality, and brand ambassador behind the award-winning cookbook, “Grandbaby Cakes” and food blog, Grandbaby-Cakes.com.
Her blog is where she shares her most coveted generational recipes with a modern and charming spin, attracting millions of readers per year. In 2015, she published her debut cookbook, “Grandbaby Cakes,” which won the Gourmand World Award for Best Blogger Cookbook USA in 2016. The same year, she was also nominated for an NAACP Image Award for outstanding literary instructional work.
Jocelyn recently launched her newest cookbook, “Everyday Grand: Soulful Recipes for Celebrating Life’s Big and Small Moments.”
In addition to her writing, Jocelyn is a media personality who’s currently the co-host of “Stab That Cake,” streaming on the Cooking Channel and Discovery Plus. She also makes regular appearances on shows like “TODAY” and “Good Morning America,” and has contributed to or been featured in publications including “Food & Wine,” “Bon Appetit,” and “O Magazine.”
Join me today as we speak with Jocelyn about leaving her nine-to-five to pursue blogging full-time, how she began authoring cookbooks, and her advice to beginning bakers.
And there she is. I’m out of breath, but there she is! Good morning.
Jocelyn Delk Adams: Good morning. Sometimes, I forget everything I’ve done, so when-
Kirk Bachmann: I’m here to remind you.
Jocelyn Delk Adams: I’m like, “Oh my God, I’ve been busy!”
Kirk Bachmann: You have been busy, and it comes together beautifully.
To kick it off right off the bat: “Celebrating life’s big and small moments.” I absolutely love this. I think it’s a perfect foundation to start chatting. How important are celebrations? Let’s just start there. Celebrations. Is there a memorable small moment that you celebrated recently? I know you went to Disney with your daughter. That’s worth celebrating. But this whole idea of big and small moments: what’s the dividing line? What makes something big, something small?
Jocelyn Delk Adams: I think something small is something we don’t consider normally. When we think of our big moments, we [think of] birthdays, anniversaries, or holidays. Those are the moments in our lives that get so much attention, and most people give them a lot of attention. They are the days we take off or the days we have a lot of family together.
But I think when we start to really consider the smaller moments, they’re the moments where you have, “Oh, this was kind of cool.” That aha moment, or that, “Ah! I really enjoyed this. I really enjoyed this day. I really enjoyed this moment in the day.” And we really don’t give it another thought.
For me, trying to put a spotlight on those smaller moments because not every day is a holiday. Not every day is our birthday. Without those smaller moments to fill in the gaps and give us purpose and meaning and intention, we just have to look forward to something that may only come once a year.
Kirk Bachmann: No, I love that. People in general – family, friends – they love to be appreciated. One thing I noticed just recently is you can either say, “Hey, that was really cool. I appreciate it.” Or you could say, “Hey, that was really cool. I appreciate you.” I feel like I get more of a response from people – their eyes light up a little – but if you say, “I appreciate YOU,” it’s super impactful. At least I like that.
Jocelyn Delk Adams: I get that, too, because it’s you as a person, not just this one thing that you did. It takes in all of who you are, and being able to put a spotlight on that makes people feel special.
Kirk Bachmann: You’re in Dallas now. It’s really important to level-set where we are and connect it to food. I know you’re in Dallas now; we’ll talk about that in a minute. But I also know that you lived in Chicago. We’ve got a presence in Chicago. I was born and raised in Chicago. I’m really curious, and now that I know that you’re in Dallas, if we can compare the two. Let’s compare the urban culture of Chicago and how that influenced your career as a blogger to raising a family in Dallas. Start with Chicago. I was just there last week.
Jocelyn Delk Adams: Same here. I love Chicago because the food scene is just incredible. I love that you’ll see shows like “The Bear” that’s really putting a spotlight on Chicago cuisine. Everyone’s just enamored with the food scene of Chicago, and us Chicagoans born and raised there, we’ve always known Chicago has incredible –
Kirk Bachmann: Right! Even a hot dog’s the best!
Jocelyn Delk Adams: Even a hot dog. Even a hot dog is the best hot dog you will ever have. I think it’s really incredible because Chicago is just such a melting pot. Everyone thinks about the pizza because the pizza is fantastic, but I will have conversations with people and be like, “Even the thin crust is amazing.” Think about the thin crust. A lot of Chicagoans don’t just sit around eating deep-dish all the time. In every little corner of every single neighborhood, there’s just all of this personality from chefs that are just highlighted. You can really just get the best of everything in Chicago, and I think that’s why the food scene is just so memorable.
Kirk Bachmann: It is. It is so interesting and expected that you bring up pizza. We had the Lou Malnati family on the show a few months ago.
Jocelyn Delk Adams: I was going to say, if I’m asked about deep-dish, it’s going to be Lou Malnati’s. When I went back, that was the first place I went. That’s my favorite deep-dish in Chicago, so that’s so funny you said that.
Kirk Bachmann: It’s a process. You’re not going to fly in and get a slice. You’ve got to order it, and it’s going to take 35 minutes. It just is.
Jocelyn Delk Adams: We stood in line. We went to the one in South Loop. We waited for a table for about 45 minutes, and then one thing that I really love – and this is a tip for people who go to Chicago – you can actually order the pizza once you put your name on the list. They already put it in the queue to start baking it. You don’t have to wait, and then sit down, and then order, and then wait another 45 minutes. It comes out much faster.
Kirk Bachmann: Brilliant. It depends on where you are – Dallas probably has it as well – but I love that you just drop South Loop and River North, and Old Town.
Jocelyn Delk Adams: So much stuff.
Kirk Bachmann: Wrigley Hill. You brought up “The Bear.” It’s so interesting because season one was, “Oh, gosh. He’s yelling at that person.” But season two, which I’ve already gotten through-
Jocelyn Delk Adams: Oh, I see your picture of Carmy in the background now! Oh my! Oh my gosh! I was like, “Wait a minute!” It’s right there in my face. I’ve been paying attention to you, and then I glanced over and was like, “Wait! There’s a picture of Carmy in the background.” That’s so cool.
Kirk Bachmann: I love it. I love it. I’m looking at the book over here, “Unreasonable Hospitality.” Season two – and I don’t want to spoil anything if you haven’t seen it all –
Jocelyn Delk Adams: I have seen it twice. I am a huge “The Bear” fan.
Kirk Bachmann: It’s amazing how much-
Jocelyn Delk Adams: It’s a masterpiece.
Kirk Bachmann: -respect for the industry came through in season two.
Jocelyn Delk Adams: Absolutely
Kirk Bachmann: It was just spectacular. I spent a lot of time working downtown. To see Mr. Beef reincarnated as The Bear.
Jocelyn Delk Adams: The Bear, yeah.
Kirk Bachmann: Is truly, truly special.
So let’s shift over to Dallas. I’m old, right, so I think about Dean Fearing and the Mansion on Turtle Creek, and old-school Tex-Mex, Austin street food and stuff like that. What’s your vibe in Dallas?
Jocelyn Delk Adams: It’s very different from Chicago. I’m definitely getting used to how the food scene is set up. I will say that Texas, in terms of the Dallas area because that’s where I live, they have some of the best authentic tacos. You can go to a gas station and literally some of the best tacos you have ever had in your life. I was just amazed by that. I was amazed by that from the very beginning. I knew a lot about Austin because I’d been to Austin probably five times before I even moved to Texas. I went on everything from a taco crawl. I had so many tacos every time I’ve gone to Austin. But I’ve also had Franklin’s. I’ve done all of the big foodie stops. Texas, even the Dallas area, has some incredible barbecue. Incredible. It’s been really cool to really check it all out and just experience it and also take it all in.
For instance, we just opened a Portillo’s here.
Kirk Bachmann: Oh no!
Jocelyn Delk Adams: Yeah, we did. My mom was so excited because every time we go to Chicago, my mom’s like, “I’ve got to stop by Portillo’s, and now we have one maybe 15 minutes from us. It’s nice to have a little piece of Chicago in Dallas town. We get a little bit of Chicago.
Kirk Bachmann: Same chocolate cake? Have you tried the chocolate cake?
Jocelyn Delk Adams: Same chocolate cake.
Kirk Bachmann: Same chocolate cake. Unbelievable.
Jocelyn Delk Adams: It’s pretty good. I also love the lemon cake at Portillo’s. I also love the lemon cake.
Kirk Bachmann: Oh, I have not had that. Have not had that.
Jocelyn Delk Adams: That’s not as popular. I think they only really have it around spring, but yes, the lemon cake also is fantastic.
Kirk Bachmann: I love it. My family is in Chicago right now with grandparents, so I’m going to have to remind them to get over to Portillo’s. Or go to Cubbies tonight.
Jocelyn Delk Adams: Oh, fantastic. So fun.
Kirk Bachmann: Jocelyn, I love starting these conversations, or any conversation, by tracing back to the very beginning. I’d love to do that with you and shed some light on the origin of your story. I’ve read that your family, your grandmother, Big Mama, played a substantial role, a significant role in who you are today. You mentioned in an interview that I read, and I quote, “Cooking and baking is a very important part of who we are as a family. It’s almost a ritual, a way in which we preserve our traditions.” Really beautiful. Can you take us back to that first moment when you discovered your love for baking? I think you were a little older, maybe in your 20s. You didn’t realize you had that baking gene. Take us back. Talk about Big Mama.
Jocelyn Delk Adams: Sure. Big Mama, she lived in Winona, Mississippi, and we probably went a few times a year to visit her. Every single time we visited, she would have me brought into the kitchen, and we would bake and cook things together. She taught me everything, from learning how to make her biscuits to every single cake imaginable. She was the queen of pound cakes and layer cakes and caramel cakes and coconut cakes and cobblers. The cobblers! Literally, anything you could think of, she could make.
I just remember having so much joy from the curiosity of the experience, taking it all in. She would have all of these cakes lined up in her dining room. People would start coming by to get them, and they would give her ten dollars or five dollars. Really, whatever they had, and she would give them a cake for the holiday. Seeing the excited face that they had and that joy, it resonated with me. It resonated with me in a way that I didn’t know at the time, when I was young, how much joy she was giving to people, what those cakes and what those experiences would mean down the line.
I took it as, “This is cool!” I’m a kid. I really didn’t understand how important it was to me until much later. And for a while, I didn’t bake. I didn’t really bake that much during my teen years. I was busy being a teenager and hanging out with friends and all of that sort of stuff. It wasn’t until I started working in my early 20s that I started getting back into baking. “Oh, well, I’ll try to make Big Mama’s pound cake.” Then I started doing it more and trying to perfect it. It became something that I really fell in love with, not knowing that I had that gene or that excitement about baking until much later.
Kirk Bachmann: Is that you now, over the holidays? Are there a bunch of cakes lined up?
Jocelyn Delk Adams: It’s sort of me. It’s kind of me. I will say, everyone expects me to do the baking for the holidays. It’s just understood. They don’t even [ask.] They’re like, “We know that’s taken care of,” and it just completely goes off the list immediately when we’re starting to plan the menu.
Kirk Bachmann: Food is joy. For a lot of people it’s not about the money; it’s just about the smile on the face.
Jocelyn Delk Adams: Absolutely. And I didn’t realize. I wasn’t making a lot of money in my 20s. It was early in my career, and I was literally taking any money I had left over after paying bills to just go to the grocery store and buy ingredients to bake.
Kirk Bachmann: Start all over again. Did Big Mama have a signature recipe, signature dish?
Jocelyn Delk Adams: She definitely was the queen of two things. She was the queen of peach cobbler. Her peach cobbler was just unreal. It just tastes like a hug. It was just so comforting and warm and inviting, and especially right out of the oven, you would just smell those incredible spices throughout the kitchen. It just really brought you into this comforting hug.
She also had this amazing sour cream pound cake. Just dense and moist and tender and melt-in-your-mouth. Just the most perfect pound cake you’ll ever taste.
Kirk Bachmann: This time of the year, how appropriate, August 1 when we’re recording, talking about peach cobbler.
Jocelyn Delk Adams: Peaches in season.
Kirk Bachmann: I don’t know that anyone that I’ve ever met doesn’t enjoy peach cobbler, but you can have bad experiences. There’s nothing like it bubbling over the crust and maybe hardening on this side. But it can’t soften the crust. If you get a piece of peach cobbler and all of a sudden it’s wet on the bottom, I’m out. I’m out. It’s an art!
Jocelyn Delk Adams: It is an art. I love it. I love the different textures. You want to have the different textures. You want the peaches to sing. They’re the star. It’s nothing like getting ripe peaches, right now, that you could add to a cobbler. It’s just unbelievable.
Kirk Bachmann: Do the Georgia peaches make it over to Dallas this time of the year? Is that what you’re looking for?
Jocelyn Delk Adams: You know what? We actually had peaches come into the farmers’ market maybe two months ago, honestly. But I didn’t really start to use them until last month. They were pretty solid.
Kirk Bachmann: It’s so interesting. Colorado, it’s a popular state with tourism and all of that. Denver is a big city. Boulder is a great city. But the best peaches – and I’m sorry to my friends in Georgia – but the best peaches I’ve ever had are from this tiny little town in western Colorado called Palisade. There’s like 15,000 people in Palisade, but this time of the year you can see Palisade peaches all the way down to New Mexico. They’re everywhere. They’re distributed pretty far.
Jocelyn Delk Adams: Oh my gosh! That’s amazing.
Kirk Bachmann: There’s a juiciness and a sweetness. They’re growing at 5000 feet, it’s intense heat throughout the summer. It’s just the perfect combination.
As we talk about this, whether it is Big Mama or you, are there important family traditions that you still honor today from Big Mama?
Jocelyn Delk Adams: I think she was all about family being involved in the cooking and baking process. For us, there isn’t a holiday where we aren’t all in the kitchen. We are all passing down those rituals. I have a five-year-old daughter. She loves to be in the kitchen with us. She wants to do everything from roll out the dough. And she wants autonomy. She wants to do it independently. “I can do it by myself. I know how to do it.” Watching her have so much joy being in the kitchen, you see it passing down the tradition of us all being together, of us all learning these generational recipes, and seeing her be that next generation to carry it forward.
Kirk Bachmann: I love it.
Let’s talk a little bit about leaving that nine-to-five job for the dream, because this is going to resonate with a lot of people. Tell me more! Tell me more! This naturally segues into launching your blog, Grandbaby Cakes back in 2012. What was your inspiration? Give us that moment when you were like, “This is it! This is it!”
Jocelyn Delk Adams: I think it’s kind of weird. At the time when I started my blog, food blogging wasn’t a prominent career. It was more of an experiment. People were sharing recipes. There wasn’t a career path for that yet. There were very few food bloggers that were truly successful enough to actually quit their jobs and go this route. I didn’t necessarily have a huge road map to follow because it was all kind of new. I think some of the earlier food blogs were maybe 2009, 2010. A lot of them, we call them the OG’s that ended up being very popular. Marie Drummond, the Pioneer Woman. She started her blog very early and then was able to reap the benefits. We just really wanted to share recipes. A lot of us who started so long ago, we just loved the idea of being able to put our ideas in some space, find followers that actually wanted to make food, and loved food, and connected with it like we did, and tell stories about how we love this space. What our food story was. That’s kind of how it began.
I wasn’t able to quit my job until about two years later. I was starting to build a strong audience. I was actually approached by two literary agents about writing my first cookbook. I was also working with some brands. I was doing some brand partnerships and doing recipe development for those brands and sharing on social media. I was able to see that there was a path forward for me to actually build a career, and I loved doing it. That was a big thing for me. I was working around the clock trying to build and grow my audience while I was working the nine-to-five. At some point, I just wasn’t able to continue to juggle both.
Kirk Bachmann: It’s so interesting to hear you say that because you said, “Telling your story through food or sharing of recipes,” but what a perfect medium food is because there is always a story there. If you wanted to talk about marbles and start a blog about marbles, no offense to marble lovers, but it’s not quite the same.
Jocelyn Delk Adams: Not quite the same. We need food and we love food. There’s always that market there.
Kirk Bachmann: Jocelyn, were you always clear on your brand voice in the beginning, or is that something that had to evolve over time?
Jocelyn Delk Adams: That is such a great question. No! Yes, and no. I will say that I knew from the very beginning that I wanted to share a lot about the generations and how these recipes, these traditional recipes in my life that were inspired by my grandmother, came to be, and how I was inspired by her to actually go on this journey. That was always very clear.
But I started to try to go after a few things that were exciting at the time. At the beginning, I was really into food trucks, so I was doing these interviews with people who owned food trucks. You will not see this anymore. They’re gone. But I was doing a bunch of different things in addition to sharing the generational recipes and putting my twist on those, which was very much the same thing I do now. I was doing a lot of other things in the beginning, too, like the food truck stories. I had to fall into exactly what the space was going to be. I tried a lot of stuff.
Kirk Bachmann: I don’t even know if people realize, you were leading a very successful career anyway. You were working with Ebony Men’s and Chicago Urban League. Was this a push or a pull? You were doing just fine.
Jocelyn Delk Adams: Yeah! I was doing just fine. Honestly, I loved my job. I was doing so much creative work, which was always what I wanted to do. I always wanted to be in media in some type of way and lead a very creative career. I just wasn’t exactly sure what that was going to end up being and what that would look like.
Being able to do that for as long as I did before I actually launched Grandbaby Cakes and that really took off, I feel really blessed. I was able to have those moments and those jobs along the way. But I did really feel like there was something else out there for me. That was the pull. I just didn’t know exactly what it was.
Kirk Bachmann: I could ask, at that time, did you have some decision doubts? But I think a better question is, at the end of the day, it’s risky. It’s risky to leave-
Jocelyn Delk Adams: Oh, it’s very risky.
Kirk Bachmann: -a stable income, the prestige of having a great job, and the work that went into [it.] The equity, right? So part of it is, “Okay, I’m confident.” Confidence is a big piece. I’m financially secure, or I’m in a good place where I can do this. I guess I’d love, Jocelyn, for you to share any advice that you might have for someone who wants to make a living from a food blog. Let’s say they’re successful in their current position, or they’re not. Is there a podium, a top one or two, three things to keep an eye on when you’re moving into this?
Jocelyn Delk Adams: I think my advice even ten years ago is very different from my advice now. The industry continues to shift. Social media wasn’t what it was then. It’s a huge part of building your brand now. I would push social media a lot. I wouldn’t necessarily have done that in the earlier days.
Also, making sure that you are honing in on exactly what your focus is. Like I mentioned, I always sort of knew what it was, but when I got very, very clear about what I wanted my audience to know and what those recipes were, and why people were coming to me, and I focused in on that. I didn’t start to do a ton of different stuff. I wanted to make sure that my niche was very, very clear.
And then finally, I would just say you kind of have to take the leap. I will say this: it was very hard to step away. I remember my parents – very practical people – being like, “You’ve got to pay the mortgage!”
Kirk Bachmann: What are you doing?!
Jocelyn Delk Adams: Yeah. What are you doing? We don’t just quit jobs around here. How are the bills going to be paid? It was very risky, because whenever you are an entrepreneur, you have to bet on yourself. You have to bet on your skills and your abilities. I really had to make that decision that I was going to work around the clock, essentially, in the beginning to make sure that I ended up making Grandbaby Cakes all that it could be. I always figured, if I just took the chance, if it didn’t work, I could always get another job. I already had the experience. I already had the contacts. Why don’t I give this a try – it was pulling at me! – and just see what would happen?
Kirk Bachmann: As I listen to you, I’m thinking, all of the energy, all of the sleepless nights where you’re focused on your brand, you’re focused on your vision. Then that income pie chart changes a little bit because there are other monetary things that are luring you away. I won’t say any big names. What happens all of a sudden, it’s Grandbaby Cakes over here, and then you’ve got another vendor who is going to promote your product on their brand. I’ve never really thought about that much until I started researching our chat, because you are selling some of your products on Williams-Sonoma. How do you manage to stay sane when you’ve got this third party, now, that’s representing your brand? Tough question.
Jocelyn Delk Adams: Oh. It’s a great question, because I think as you start to – especially with a brand. I’m very much tied to it. It’s as much of a personal brand as it is anything because the story of Grandbaby Cakes is about me. It’s almost like my first baby. I have so much connection to it. I just try to be very involved in every process and every partnership. With my partnership with Williams-Sonoma, before we were able to even go to market with those cakes, we worked for two years on perfecting those recipes, perfecting the process, perfecting the shipping, everything, to make sure that it was working out how it needed to be because my name was on that. Even though it’s Williams-Sonoma, it’s also Grandbaby Cakes. The first time something happens, they’re like, “I bought a Grandbaby Cake from Williams-Sonoma,” it’s you. You have to make sure that your brand is being well represented.
Kirk Bachmann: I think the most important, significant comment that you made, essentially – I’m paraphrasing – it’s not done overnight. You worked two years to ensure that that flowed the way you envisioned it.
Jocelyn Delk Adams: Absolutely. It’s a slow process sometimes. A brand as big, sometimes corporations will try to rush you along. They’re like, “We want to get this out!”
I’m like, “It’s not ready yet.” Because you have to hold onto your vision and make sure that it’s plain and make sure that you stick by it. Sometimes, it can be very difficult. You’ll be like, “Okay, fine.” But you don’t ever want to say, “okay, fine,” when it’s your name on the line.
Kirk Bachmann: You have a presence. You’re blogging. People are getting to know you. Is it just natural? It feels like it’s natural to write a book. You’ve done that. Does everyone land on television? What’s next? You become a TV personality – Food Network.
Jocelyn Delk Adams: You do NOT just land on television. The quick answer is nope!
Kirk Bachmann: Nope! Nope!
Jocelyn Delk Adams: Nope! It’s a nope! Personally, I love to tell people – because I get asked a lot about how I ended up on television. I tell them, I started small. I did maybe 50-60 television segments locally in Chicago before I ever got my first national TV break.
Kirk Bachmann: So there’s still hope for me! There’s hope for me!
Jocelyn Delk Adams: Yeah! Absolutely. There’s hope for anyone who wants to do the work. I tell everyone else. I hear from people all the time. They’re like, “How do I get on TV?”
“Build up your resume. Get comfortable.” It’s really a skill. I know a lot of people are like, “It seems really easy.” “I make it look easy, but it ain’t easy!”
Kirk Bachmann: No way! Even this is hard! It’s a lot, right?
Jocelyn Delk Adams: Yeah, there’s a lot that goes into everything that a lot of people make look easy. No one would know! We’re recording this podcast, but no one knows the background information, the research he put into it, all of the emails back and forth, the coordination, the strategizing that you guys do – everything that pulls together this interview. No one sees that. No one sees that behind the curtain.
Kirk Bachmann: [figures [00:31:06] that you put together in your career.
Jocelyn Delk Adams: Exactly.
Kirk Bachmann: There’s a lot. Along those lines, I want to come full circle back to your source of inspiration. I read that you carve out “cultivate inspiration days” to re-center. This is really important, probably the most important thing that we’re talking about because it’s so important in society today. This idea of carving out “cultivate inspiration days” – quote, unquote – “to re-center, to focus on honoring your family legacy.” Jocelyn, that’s beautiful, and I love that. Where did that come from and how important is that to you?
Jocelyn Delk Adams: I think it came from burnout. Being in this career for so long, it sort of weighs on you creatively. Constantly – recipes, developing them, constantly traveling. I’m constantly strategizing. I’m constantly weighing in, working with different brands – so much! – working on different books. It’s so much work, and it’s around the clock.
And there are periods, sometimes, especially during quarter four, which is my craziest part of the year. It’s the holiday season. Everyone’s baking and cooking and all of that, and that’s when my work level is at an extreme all-time high, and I’m working several hours a day. I always try to find a way to come back to myself afterwards, because even if I’m physically tapped, I’m also creatively and emotionally tapped, too.
To be able to be on this road for so long, we have to find ways to re-center. You have to find ways to rebuild your creativity muscle, if you will. However that is, whether it’s a vacation, whether it’s a stay-cation. Whether it’s turning off the internet. Whether it’s just going for a walk. Whether it’s just sitting and journaling for seven days straight, and clearing your mind of everything that’s around you, the noise. You have to figure out what works for you.
I’m still kind of on the journey. I find different things that work at different times, and then I apply that. When I come back, I’m much more refreshed, and I’m much more ready to do the work.
Kirk Bachmann: I think that’s such great advice, and it’s good advice for young people today. Even in my space, in my yard, where everyone comes in because they have a passion for cooking, but there’s a lot to balance. There’s jobs, relationships. I really appreciate that.
Jocelyn Delk Adams: I love what you said, too, about the passion. We all come into this with the passion for cooking or baking, right? But when you’re building a business, it relies on so much more than just passion to make it successful.
Kirk Bachmann: My father is a Master pastry chef. He’s still alive today – 87 years old, came over from Europe. What he always says, it was kind of a respect and a love for the craft, the craft of baking. He was enamored by the technique. I think that’s really important. What I take away from your recommendation there is that whether it’s a sign or a book or a call or a podcast, to just reset and remember why you’re there in the first place. That’s really the only advice I give students. “Remind me why you’re here?” And it all comes together.
I wanted to celebrate your latest cookbook, “Everyday Grand: Soulful Recipes for Celebrating Life’s Big and Small Moments.” Again, like we said at the beginning, it really honors your childhood, if you will, and your family.
Jennifer Garner – big fan – left a really important testimonial. She said, I quote, “Jocelyn’s infectious joy and love for food and family leap from the pages to your table.” Beautiful. “Your family will be begging for seconds in no time.” Wow! What a statement! What can we expect? What do you want readers to expect when they open your cookbook?
Jocelyn Delk Adams: I want them to expect energy and joy and purpose and intention, outside of cooking. I think this book is the perfect blend of finding joy and celebrating life’s big and small moments, but also combining that with the most delicious food ever. You’re getting a piece of how you can kind of go on this personal journal back to joy and back to happiness and back to fulfillment.
I spend a lot of time in the book talking about different things that you can celebrate, things that we don’t think a lot about. Whether you changed a tire. You had a good hair day. You can celebrate these things that we don’t give any second or third thought to. You can find a reason to maybe bake your neighbor some cookies. “Hey, it’s a rainy day outside. Let’s bake a cake.” There’s so many things that can be celebrated if we just look for them and we give them purpose. WE give things purpose. We don’t allow others to tell us what should be meaningful in our lives; we can decide that for ourselves.
I think that’s truly the intention of the book, and I hope that along the way, people will put that into practice and find more joy in their lives in that way.
Kirk Bachmann: Jocelyn, you have no idea what I would give to celebrate a good hair day. I’m just saying.
Jocelyn Delk Adams: We’ve got to celebrate the hair we got.
Kirk Bachmann: That’s 100 percent correct.
Jocelyn Delk Adams: You could do a good beard day!
Kirk Bachmann: There you go! Yeah! My daughter likes to brush it. She does. “Let’s just focus on this, Daddy. We’ll focus on this.”
We talked a little bit about advice for building that business and such. Any quick advice for someone who’s passionate about writing a book, sharing their recipes, sharing their story?
Jocelyn Delk Adams: Absolutely. I’m going to give practical and then more so the joy and the passion board. The joy and the passion will truly take you so far with that. It takes so much to write a cookbook, everything from making sure that the recipes work for everyone. That recipe development part is very crucial. Making sure you have those recipes down.
Also, having a story to tell. Some of my favorite cookbooks, you can actually read the head-notes and be transported to the writer’s life, or what they were inspired by. That is just the beauty of a cookbook; wanting to actually make what’s in it, but also wanting to read it cover to cover.
And then, in terms of the practical advice, building a platform will help you to find a literary agent, because there are so many people who are writing cookbooks. You have to be able to stand out. You have to be able to have a built-in audience already that a publisher will say, “Hey, I know that I could actually sell this book to their audience. Their audience wants a book from them.” Being able to mesh those two together, I think, is the perfect recipe for that.
Kirk Bachmann: Perfect response.
I have a “none of my business” question for you.
Jocelyn Delk Adams: Sure!
Kirk Bachmann: So you have this great career that many people would be very, very happy with. Then you segue to this unbelievable career, which a lot of people are probably fearful of. What are you most proud of?
Jocelyn Delk Adams: I think I’m most proud of the community that I’ve been able to build. I used to think of cooking and baking in relation to just my family. When you think of this broad community of people who make my recipes for every Thanksgiving, who make a birthday cake from my website every birthday, and they send me photos with their family, I feel like I’m now a part of the fabric of their family. I feel like my family has grown because of the recipes that I’ve been able to share. Everyone knows about Big Mama, and my daughter, and they ask how she’s doing. I’ve built this amazing community of people who love cooking and baking, and they feel like they’re connected to each other. I think that’s the most beautiful thing I’ve been able to do.
Kirk Bachmann: So well said. That answer sounded like a hug.
Jocelyn Delk Adams: I love that!
Kirk Bachmann: Jocelyn, as we come to the end of our lovely chat, the name of the podcast is The Ultimate Dish, so I have to ask, what is the ultimate dish in your world?
Jocelyn Delk Adams: It’s got to be my Big Mama’s peach cobbler! There’s nothing like it.
Kirk Bachmann: Never soggy crust.
Jocelyn Delk Adams: Never soggy crust. It’s one of those things where when I taste it, it doesn’t matter what else I had, throughout the year when I’m able to have it, it just makes me so happy.
Kirk Bachmann: And I can tell. Absolutely delightful conversation that felt like a hug all the way through.
Jocelyn Delk Adams: Thank you so much!
Kirk Bachmann: Good luck and best of luck to your daughter working in the kitchen alongside you.
Jocelyn Delk Adams: Absolutely. I’m going to put her to work, for sure.
Kirk Bachmann: Put her to work! Thank you again, Jocelyn. Take great care.
Jocelyn Delk Adams: 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. And if you can, please leave us a rating on Apple or Spotify, and subscribe to support our show. This helps us to reach more aspiring individuals ready to take the next step toward their dream careers. Thanks for listening.