In January of 2018 I was unemployed, heartbroken and beat. I had hit rock-bottom as many self-help gurus describe. The pain was indescribable. Not only was my bank account empty – my soul was too. My get-up-and-go had got-up-and-went. I was so empty inside. I was scared of me. Me had abandoned Me. I had no clue what I was or what I would do next; I did know that it wasn’t going to be good. My plan for suicide was going to be epic. I would fill as many gas cans as I could fit in my car – drive to Red Rocks and barrel down the steps as fast as I could and light the cans on fire with a Davidoff cigar and explode on the stage below – epic.
Instead, I called a friend. Someone who I knew that would actually take my call. She agreed to have coffee with me and let me explain my dire situation. She saved my life.
She recommended that I write. I had no clue what to say – So, she gave me homework assignments. Another friend that I’ve never met in person (Twitter) suggested that I write a cookbook. So, I started that too. Those two writing assignments began to merge into one. My personal commentary and food became what you know now as Chef or Death. The name get’s a lot of attention for a number of reasons, but the reality of it is this – I was going to die. I had two options: Chef (my complete embrace of who and what I was professionally – and thus personally) or Death.
My friend who is also very media savvy liked what I was writing and thought that a podcast would be another medium that would serve my ‘voice’ too. Which is really funny because my entire life people had told me what a great ‘radio’ voice I had – but more importantly – that my opinions were also as intriguing. People liked my take on stuff. Maybe because I’m not afraid to say what I mean, but because I do wear my emotions on my sleeve. Whatever the back story – I just like to talk. And not in the way that I just like to express my thoughts to hear myself talk – I like to hear your opinion too. I live for meaningful conversation.
So, there I was. I had a thing. The Universe listens. Be aware of it because it’s aware of your every move. Take that shit seriously – I mean it.
Around that time a friend from the past reached out. My old guitar player from when I sang in a metal band had an idea. He had a company that helped small creative start-ups and wondered if I wanted to do a podcast?
Wait? What? He literally had no idea what I was doing, planning, or thinking about. Zero. Let me say this again – He wasn’t privy to anything I was doing. For all he knew, I was a chef happily cooking away in a restaurant somewhere. The Universe knew.
My old drummer from the same band worked up a logo and it’s the same one he made up from the beginning. I never altered any of it. He even suggested making a better quality version; polished. I have declined his offer.
So, there I was. I had a bigger thing. Take your thoughts VERY seriously. I’m begging you. Think great things – ok?
We put together a show and we did it. I reached out to some friends and some people that I didn’t know and everyone agreed to be on. And we DID A FUCKING SHOW!!!
It was, and continues to be surreal.
Chef or Death was planned to do 6 shows for a season. We did 14.
Literally everyone I’ve ever asked to be on has accepted my invitation. I’m beyond blessed.
I received a Facebook message from someone who tracks podcasts, and his organization rated Chef or Death #6 on the top 20 chef podcasts in the world. This isn’t derived from his personal affinity for any particular show – It’s rated by Google analytics and social media activity. Number 6 in the world. We did a thing. You and I did a thing.
I’ve been blessed to have had 36 people on my show. Another 11 have been instrumental in making my dream breathe. And countless friends and family that have supported it with their love and encouragement.
The success of Season One was OUR success. I’ve been able to reconnect with friends from the past, and make so many new ones. The show touched so many lives in a positive way that it makes my head spin. People wear the swag and I even got an autograph request from a girl that I was in love with in Jr. High. We get listeners from all over the globe. People call me Chef or Death instead of my real name – that’s always fun. I get requests to speak at events and appear on other way more important podcasts – my opinion matters. None of this means shit to me – but it tells me that WE did something important. It took me forever to understand that doing things that lift up others is the only thing that makes me happy.
I love you.
Here’s a list of everyone (I think) that has been a part of my dream come true:
Melanie Muir – My friend and first Executive Producer
Tim Arguello, Steve Jones, Nick Phillips at The Fox Street Compound
Kathy Hawkins – My savior and current Executive Producer
Arleigh Barley – Secret Admirer
Steve & John FTM Studios
Mark White – Chef or Death Logo Artist
Christine Rogge Wasielewski: Wink Screenprinting – Swag Queen
Moira Moxley – Chef or Death Voice Over
Susan Froyd – Westword Magazine – First to scoop the Chef or Death story (My eternal gratitude)
Jim Pittenger, Thuan La, Jensen Cummings, Elan Wenzel – Ep1 – “How We Started”
Alex Palmerton, John Hinman – Ep2 – “Mental Heath & Addiction”
Jorge Cazares, John Eliav, Brandon Becker, Blaine Baggo – Ep3 – “Food Truckers”
Denise Mickelson, Rebecca Treon, Amanda Faison, Mark Antonation – Ep4 – “Food Writers”
Simone FM Spinner, Justin Brunson, Aaron Forman, Ryan Leinonen – Ep5 – “Denver Food: A Culinary Evolution”
Arlan Preblud – Ep6 – “We Don’t Waste”
Jennifer Akina, Samantha New, Jessie Albertini – Ep7 – “Female Chefs of Denver”
John Imbergamo – Ep8 – “John Imbergamo”
Zachary Johnston – Ep9 – “Zachary Johnston: Spice Guy”
Helen Lee, Bess Dougherty, Jayme Marie Henderson, Maia Parish – Ep10 – “Women in Booze”
Emily Schrader, Rourke Weaver – Ep11 – “SoBar”
Brandon Foster, Richard Hammonds, Elizabeth Samurri – Ep12 – “Holiday Show”
Kendra Anderson – Ep13 – “Kendra Anderson: Bar Helix”
Azure Antoinette, Devi Green – Ep14 – “Azure Antoinette: Poet”
Reena William Friedman Watts, Greg Johnson – Hosts of ‘Next Level People’
Thank you all so much for believing.
Final thought – I didn’t have enough money to buy that gasoline anyway…