Today we’d like to introduce you to Carl Williams.
Carl, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Art has always been my first love, daydreaming my second. And as a child, every free moment I got, I spent doodling something. I so desperately wanted to be an artist. My father convinced me that I needed a work that people would always need. “So you’ll need to find something else to do”. I didn’t understand how that could be. How could people live without the inspiration of art? Especially in times of dire need, I thought.
Art is after all what helps us to escape, isn’t it? If you have no money at least you can see beautiful things for free, and these things make you happy. Ah the wisdom that comes from the child’s mind. My father was an extremely hard-working individual, very frugal and if you ask me, overly practical. My dreams of making everything around me beautiful seemed momentarily crushed. But I’d been convinced that most people did for a living what they hated or didn’t really want to do. Working is a means to an end, I was taught. So will I ever get paid to do something I love? I was bound and determined to never allow this to happen to me.
At a young age, I got a job at a 5 star ski resort because I wanted a season’s ski pass. One day the chef came out onto the restaurant floor and told me he’d heard I liked cooking. I told him I loved cooking. He said, “Come into the kitchen and I’ll teach you how to cook professionally”. That was the door to a whole new world. As I soon found out, I would now and for the rest of my life have an artistic outlet for creating for the eye and the palette. Now I could get paid to daydream about blending colors and flavor profiles and tell stories through my food. And just like that, I could become my own version of Willy Wonka.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It’s been anything but a smooth transition and I’ve had to reinvent myself several times along the way. However, someone told me long ago that every experience is a good one if you learn from it. I started out cooking professionally in a test kitchen like surrounding where the food cost could be high and the ingredient selection was amazing. This was key to my development and exposure I couldn’t have afforded. I tasted and ate everything put in front of me. This helped me escape having to live by culinary rules. When there was no position left for me to take, I left the formal kitchen and ended up working managing front of the house operations for a restaurant group. I was successful there and managed three different restaurant concepts at the same time. About this time is when I recognized I’d hit a fiscal glass ceiling and couldn’t grow anymore, and despite my love for this company. I soon found that in most workplaces, there’s only the bottom line. I left this company to work like a slave for another high-end hotel restaurant group that treated all of their General Managers like garbage.
I woke up one day recognizing that I was working 80 hours a week, six and a half days, and wasn’t the least appreciated. Now I’d become that person I swore never to become. The one who hated his job but loved the profession. Now it was time to reinvent myself yet again. So now what am I going to do I thought. I didn’t want to be on a kitchen line recreating the dishes someone else dreamt up. So I got my real estate license and sold homes. Although I loved it, I found it not to be recession proof. So now what? Here we go again. Since the first day in that professional kitchen that I’d set that pan down on that stove, I was filled with life and excitement when I saw the gas flames come up the side and witnessed what I lay in that pan become magically transformed into a story for the tongue to decipher. This is what has always made me happy. It was now time to go back, but this time make my own rules. I would cook again but this time only privately.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
The majority of my clients are lifestyle clients. I bring the fine dining restaurant experience to the locale they’ve selected. It could be a hike on the side of a mountain, a ski hill, a foreign country, or as simple as a second, third, or fourth home. I usually fly in a few days to a day in advance and make preparations for their arrival. I arrange flowers, candles, music, wines, and provision the home. When the client flies in, the bar and appetizers are ready, and I’m cooking dinner. The next morning the client awakens to the smell of bacon and coffee. I work hard to anticipate their wishes before they know what it is they want. My motto is: “The answer is Yes, now what’s the question?” I am NOT a caterer! I know my business is a special niche business with very special clients with very special needs. I’m not for everyone. And let’s face it, many people have the ability to make a good steak. So do I, but that’s not why my clients book me over and over again. They come to me because they want my service and know it’s seamless. They know I’ll bend over backward to give them what they want and that I’m honest, loyal, and discreet and they are willing to pay for that.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I like to think of it as good fortune. I really do believe that good things do come to good people. I’ve worked for some of the most demanding individuals during my career. I don’t have a problem with that. However, I’ve also worked for a few nasty, back biting individuals too. Now I don’t have to. Though I still have a few demanding clients with discriminating tastes, I’m happy to say I choose repeat clients that understand I too have dignity.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: thecarlwilliamsexperience
Photo credit by Commercial Photographer Steve Temple