Chef Shawn Bucher’s journey has come full circle: from learning how to make great food and gaining valuable business experience, to now putting those skills together to help culinary and business minds alike.
Chef Shawn began his culinary journey at age 14 in a butcher shop—Bowman’s Market in Kaysville. One year later, a school guidance counselor urged him to enroll at the Davis Applied Technology Center. So began his love affair with culinary arts, now a 20-year journey.
That journey could have lasted only one day had Chef Shawn let a mad dose of adversity derail his dreams. He took a job cooking for VIP guests at the then-Delta Center. Shortly after arriving for his first shift, the executive chef asked him to mince duck. He minced not only duck, but also the top part of his finger. Not 30 minutes later, while pulling roast turkey from the oven, he failed to account for the liquid—leading to scalding juice pouring all over him. Then, another chef bumped his work station, causing a large knife to drop straight into his foot. His boss’s advice: “Leave, you’re not going to survive!”
He did leave, but only for the day. Like anything in life that we desire to learn, it’s always harder initially than we anticipate. Chef Shawn came back the next day, finger included, and that has made all the difference.
Working at the Delta Center led to opportunities cooking in hotels, hospitals, and restaurants. Connecting with people in the industry gave him the chance to run his own restaurant, hold executive positions with large food organizations all over the country, give demonstrations for equipment manufacturers, teach culinary classes, and write a cookbook.
You cannot interview a chef without asking about his favorite dishes and ingredients. His answer, somewhat unexpected, was, “I like flavor enhancers & bright colors. Things like salt & pepper, citrus and fresh herbs. Food that is lite, simple, done with perfect execution and minimal ingredients, allows each piece to speak for itself.” I asked for an example. He said that he recently cooked for a group at Cornell University. There were two criteria: represent your cooking philosophy and use local ingredients. His appetizer was an arugula salad with an onion vinaigrette. The dressing was made with green onions, lime juice, olive oil, and salt & pepper. It was paired with roasted corn, roasted beets, and placed over a bed of arugula. The diners were blown away.
We all want to follow our passion and turn it into a career. Without a path to monetize it, this will always remain a hobby. Now highly-skilled and highly sought after, Chef Shawn Bucher is a guiding light to show up-and-coming culinarians what can be done. The tagline for his upcoming “Business Chef” Podcast is “Make Food, Make Money.” Sounds like life’s greatest combination.
Jeff David writes at www.hometownslop.com