Today we’d like to introduce you to Dan Witherspoon.
Dan, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I walked into a French restaurant in 1979 and asked them for a job. I nagged them until they hired me. A year and a half later, I interviewed with Henri Bergmans the man who would be my mentor at his restaurant La Maison Henri. This would start a six year relationship that taught me classic cooking techniques, kitchen management and a whole host of life lessons. I finished the job as his Executive Sous Chef.
This experience got me ready for my first Executive Chef job at El Nigul Country Club in Southern California in 1989. I spent the next ten years in the French restaurant and private country club industry. After ten years, I hit classic chef burnout. I started seeking other opportunities, one of which was being asked to teach cooking classes. Turns out, I was a natural and this led to all types of opportunities to teach all along the Front Range. This ultimately led me to being the lead instructor at The Seasoned Chef Cooking School.
In 2001, I founded the Gourmet Spoon, a company offering private cooking classes, catering and corporate culinary team building. In 2011, the owner of The Seasoned Chef sold me the cooking school and I have been there ever since,winning multiple awards for being one of the top places to learn how to cook.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
My road was natural, but not easy. The culinary profession is a stressful one to say the least. Teaching comes naturally to me to my own surprise! The biggest pitfall is you are only as good as your last class. It is not a steady stream of income so we are marketing 24/7. There is never a time to rest on your laurels.
Let’s talk about business. Tell us about The Seasoned Chef Cooking School – what should we know?
We are a cooking school for home and recreational cooks. Anyone can sign up for any class. We also offer customized private group instruction for any occasion from birthdays to anniversaries to bachelorette parties. Our number one selling service is culinary team building which we offer to groups of all shapes and sizes.
I am most proud of what our students walk away with and that is the skills to master their own kitchen. The best thing someone can say to me is, “I took your classes and it works. I use what I have learned from you all of the time.”
What sets us apart from others is we create not only a friendly environment but a great learning experience. All of our instructors have decades of experience and are highly skilled at communicating to the average student. We do not teach “down,” we teach “to.”
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Chef Henri Bergmans (mentor)
Chef Sharon Polster (mentor)
Darren Denny and Keith Jones (partners in culinary crime)
Susan Stevens and Joan Brett (Cooking school owners)
My incredible staff (too many to name) including assistants and instructors
My amazing wife Jayne who not only encouraged me but assisted me in setting up my own business and supported me all these years. She co-founded The Gourmet Spoon with me and has encouraged me all this time.
- Cookbook Mix Match Make Take:: High Energy Food for High Energy People $29.95
- Class Information is available on our website www.theseasonedchef.com
- Private Event information is available on our website under the Event Tab by request
- Address: 999 Jasmine Street Suite 100
- Website: www.theseasonedchef.com
- Phone: 303.377.3222
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theseasonedchefdenver
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theseasonedchef
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/seasonedchefdan