Creativity

#41: World Class Chef Doug McNish on Veganism, Creativity and Cancel Culture

Hosted by Josh Gonsalves
11.1.2021
1 HR 42 MIN
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Episode Description

World famous vegan chef Doug McNish joins Josh to talk about his experience with veganism for the past 15 years and how he creates his award-winning vegan recipes.

Doug also shares his wisdom and advice for entrepreneurs or any creative person who wants to get more out of life, and Doug opens up about his experience with burnout and cancel culture.

About Doug McNish

Doug is an internationally award-winning Executive Chef and Restaurant Consultant, best-selling Author, passionate educator, celebrated activist and pioneer of society’s plant-forward future with over two decades of expertise launching and developing successful businesses in the food industry.

In 2017, Chef McNish was granted the title of Best Chef in Toronto and has been crowned the “Iron Chef” in multiple live cooking competitions.

His latest cookbook "The Classics Veganized" includes over 120 meatless dishes that you would NEVER expect to be plant-based. Some standout dishes include Mushroom Calamari, Boneless Wings, Hickory Smoked Ribs, Home-style meatloaf, butter chicken, vegan eggs, and much much more that will also probably make your mouth water just thinking about...

Doug's mission is to make Veganism more accessible to the public on an international scale by using his skills, knowledge and passion to help emerging and established brands bring gourmet, healthy plant based options and products to their customers.

Connect with Doug McNish

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Stalk Josh on the Internet:

  • 3:19 — Conversation begins
  • 3:55 — Doug's professional story coming up as a chef
  • 8:19 — How COVID impacted Doug's work as a travelling Executive Chef
  • 10:17 — The story of how Doug became vegan
  • 12:21 — The Meet Your Meat video by PETA had a profound effect on Doug
  • 15:19 — Influencing culture through vegan cooking
  • 17:30 — How Doug reverse engineers meat products and recreates them with plant-based products
  • 19:13 — Doug's note-taking system for creating recipes
  • 24:17 — Doug's iteration process for testing out recipes
  • 25:27 — Doug's vegan egg recipe
  • 28:41 — The creativity of cooking vegan meals
  • 41:41 — How Doug has seen the vegan food industry evolve over the past 15 years
  • 35:15 — Doug's opinion on the fake meat industry
  • 38:08 — The Raw Food Diet
  • 40:04 — Doug's go-to healthy recipes for cooking at home
  • 42:07 — The best sources of vegan protein
  • 44:38 — Book: How Not to Die
  • 44:53 — Doug's advice for anyone considering a vegan lifestyle
  • 45:08 — Book: Becoming Vegan
  • 47:08 — Doug's Cookbook: The Classics Veganized
  • 47:57 — The other things Doug works on outside of being a Chef
  • 52:21 — Doug's advice for how to become successful in the food business
  • 56:07 — Doug's financial advice for people who want to become an entrepreneur
  • 59:49 — Doug was voted best chef in Toronto in 2017, but was in the worst health he had been in his entire life
  • 01:02:14 — Doug took a Life Reboot course with his friend Kim Carol
  • 01:06:43 — Doug's experience with stress and his advice on how to deal with it
  • 01:11:05 — Doug's experience with cancel culture
  • 01:19:07 — The toxic side of kitchen culture & how Doug thinks it can be fixed
  • 01:24:56 — Doug's thoughts on how the restaurant industry can change for the better
  • 01:27:09 — How Doug sees the restaurant industry changing post-COVID
  • 01:30:35 — Doug's take on the ghost kitchen model
  • 01:34:37 — Doug's advice for anyone who wants to open their own restaurant
  • 01:36:49 — All of Doug's capabilities, other than being a chef, as a food industry expert
  • 01:41:11 — Conversation ends

[00:00:00] Doug: I was voted best chef in Toronto in 2017 and still it's an honor to be able to say that and not best vegan chef or plant-based chef, but best chef in the city of Toronto.

[00:00:10] It was the least healthy I had been in my life. And, you know, so I had all this quote success on the outside, but on the inside, I was the heaviest I had been, I was unhealthy, I was eating poorly drinking poorly. I was drinking 10 cups of coffee a day. I was, it was just not good.

[00:00:25] Josh: Hello friend, welcome to Mind Meld. I'm Josh Gonsalves. And this is a podcast where I have in-depth conversations with some of the brightest people in the known universe.

[00:00:41] My aim is to spark deep conversations around interesting topics to find the tools, tactics, and philosophies that we can all use in our daily and creative lives.

[00:00:50] In this episode, I sat down with world famous vegan chef Doug McNish. Doug is an internationally award-winning executive chef and restaurant consultant, best-selling author, celebrated activists and pioneer of society's plant forward future with over two decades of experience launching and developing successful businesses in the food industry.

[00:01:12] In 2017, Doug was granted the title Best Chef in Toronto and has been crowned the iron chef in multiple live cooking competitions.

[00:01:21] His latest cookbook, the Classics Veganized includes over 120 meatless dishes that you would never expect are plant-based. Some of these standout dishes include mushroom calamari, boneless wings, hickory smoked ribs, homestyle meatloaf, butter, chicken, vegan, eggs, and much, much more that all do not include meat whatsoever, and I'm sure there's a lot more in there that will make your mouth water just thinking about it.

[00:01:46] Doug's mission is to make veganism more accessible to the public on an international scale, by using his skills, knowledge, and passionate to help emerging and established brands bring gourmet healthy plant-based options and products to their customers.

[00:01:59] In this episode, we talk about how Doug became vegan, his experience with veganism over the past 15 years, and how he comes up with his recipes.

[00:02:08] We talk about Doug's entrepreneurial journey and he shares his wisdom and advice that he has for entrepreneurs or any creative person that wants to get more out of life.

[00:02:16] We also talk about Doug's experience with burnout and cancel culture and his advice on how to navigate both.

[00:02:23] If you found this podcast helpful or interesting, please share it with your friends or anyone that you think needs to hear this, because I want to get as many people to get value out of this podcast as possible.

[00:02:33] And if you haven't already, please subscribe to the podcast. You can subscribe on your favorite podcast app so that you can get notified whenever I publish new episodes.

[00:02:41] And if you want to get direct links to anything that we mentioned in this podcast, including resources, people, tools, or anything like that, you can find everything in the show notes for this episode.

[00:02:51] And you can find those links in the show notes and everything mentioned in the description of this podcast on whatever app you're listening to it on. You can also find everything mentioned at Mind Meld dot FM. That's M I N D M E L D dot F M.

[00:03:06] I hope you enjoyed this episode, so let's get right into it.

[00:03:09] I'm Josh Gonsalves. And this is Mind Meld with Doug McNish. All right. Well, Doug, McNish welcome to Mind Meld. This is a long time in the making. I'm so excited. We finally get to have this conversation.

[00:03:26] Doug: Thank you so much for having me here, my friend, um, I'm truly grateful for it.

[00:03:32] Josh: Yeah, I know you went through a little bit of a, let's call it a dark period over the last couple of months. I'm sure there's a lot of people did with their own stuff, you kind of went off grid. You were super busy. We were trying to get this done for like months.

[00:03:43] So I want to hear all about the stuff that you've been up to, maybe before we even get into that, actually want to start at the very beginning.

[00:03:48] I want people to kind of understand who you are. Maybe someone who's coming into this podcast is conversation not knowing who Doug is at all.

[00:03:55] So I know that you started in the kitchen while you're 15. Do you want to start that far back? I'd love to hear your entire journey.

[00:04:02] Doug: Yeah, for sure. Um, gosh, that's going back now. Uh, yes, I was, I was a young man. I was in high school and, uh, I had not had a job yet. And, I found this new restaurant opening. I grew up in Whitby, Ontario, and this new restaurant was opening, um, right across the street from me called the hunters horn.

[00:04:22] I went and I said to my mom, I want to be a chef, definitely that I want to be a chef. And, um, she was awesome about it. And she brought me over there for an interview and we met the new owners I took the job and I think it was within a couple of weeks.

[00:04:37] I was started working in a, in a British pub. It was pretty cool.

[00:04:41] Josh: That's really interesting. So what was that like? walk me through that. Like, what were those early days like and how did you fall in love with food and that whole restaurant industry, and I'm sure things are crazy. That's your first job? That's your first foray into the working world. What was that like?

[00:04:56] Doug: I mean, you know, the first thing I, I liked about it was that you got to be creative. you know, there is no other industry in the world, I think, where you get a box of potatoes and olive oil and garlic, and you have a grill and a fryer and saute pans, and you get to take that and you get to create, it's almost, it is like a blank canvas and you get to create whatever you want and just the whole act of feeding people and making them happy and, and just creating.

[00:05:23] And of course the eating, you know, like the flavors are just, you taste something that's good for the first time. You're just like, oh my God, this is amazing. I, I can create this. I can do. And, um, I fell in love with it. I,

[00:05:36] You know, restaurant world is one that is bananas. It's just go, go, go. And on the fly, fast precision detail oriented. And I loved every single moment of it. And I believe I found my vocation for the rest of my life, right when I was 15 years old. I, I fell in love with it and, uh, I've been doing it ever since.

[00:06:03] Josh: That's amazing. I think you're really lucky. And a lot of people, their first jobs are in restaurants. So funny enough, my first job was in a restaurant as Swiss chalet in Ajax, right next door to Whitby. And, uh, you know, it's funny because I got into tech and I didn't get into the restaurant world. Now, things are coming back full circle now where I started at a restaurant technology company, we talk about that later on more the technology side of things.

[00:06:25] So it's funny that my first job was in the restaurant industry, but I wasn't like, oh, I want to become a chef right away. But there's people like yourself that just, you get sucked right into it. Like, there's just something about it. the artistic ends of it, where you're like, okay, like you said, it's a blank canvas. You can create stuff.

[00:06:40] And what's really interesting about food and what we've done with food as, as a species, I think it's like innately human, right? Like no other species really takes to food the way that humans do and the way that there's so many things that you can combine and create. So I think it's really interesting, the art style of it and what I love and then really want to get into this with you is that, that intersection of like the creativity and art style, as well, as the entrepreneurial side of things.

[00:07:06] Cause you're, you're an entrepreneur, like you've done so much in it in the industry. So maybe we can kind of get into that. I want to know some of the things that you're doing right now, some of the crazy things that you're working on now.

[00:07:15] Doug: Well, you know, going back to back to those days, it was, I, it was funny. It was, I remember them saying to me, them being the owners of the restaurant here, I was this guy, 15, 16 years old. And even back then, I didn't want a boss.. I, you know, I remember being so young and I was basically training and teaching the kitchen manager at the time, how to do his job.

[00:07:40] And I think I was predestined to become an entrepreneur, even from a very young age, because when you see something a certain way, it's really difficult to be able to give that creativity or give that to someone else. And, you know, I've always liked to see things sort of my way.

[00:07:58] It doesn't mean I can't play as a team. I definitely can, but you know, um, you see things a certain way and you just want to be able to, uh, create. So for me, it's always been so important to have the creativity and not be stifled. And I think that's part of the reason I, you know, I took the plunge, uh, a decade ago and and became self-employed.

[00:08:19] You know, in terms of what I'm doing right now, you know, COVID really changed a lot for me. I was traveling a lot. I was all over the world. I spent a lot of time in Sweden. I cooked at the world economic forum in Davos, Switzerland. I was in Australia. I was in Germany, United States. Um, I was everywhere. And then when COVID hit, um, I, for me, and for many people, it was the time to slow down and, uh, that, you know, being forced to slow down, really, you know, I took it as a sort of assigned from the universe.

[00:08:52] I said, okay, let's chill down again. You know, you don't have to try and take over the world now. Nothing has to happen this moment, your family, or, or the most important thing to you and your health. So let's, let's take it slowly.

[00:09:04] So yeah, the last year and a half, I guess have just been, um, just been a reminder to slow down, like, like for so many people just to slow down and take it easy. And remember that life is short, you know, and we're only here for such a short time. We have to remember that.

[00:09:21] Josh: That is so true. And I think over the last year, more than ever, we've kind of come to that realization. I mean, not just knowing that the world kind of shut down, but seeing all the people that were affected and things like that, and just, I think it was you're right. It's a great time to kind of slow down

[00:09:35] and you kind of like mentioned something there that this might be a really good segue.

[00:09:39] It seems like you're very spiritual in that sense too. Like I just get that feeling from you that you kind of have like a higher purpose. You kind of have a connection to something a little bit greater than just this like physical plane. And I, I love speaking to people that I can tell, have that connection.

[00:09:53] And I think what makes you different, besides the spiritual side of things, is it you've sort of carved out this niche for yourself in the food business, around veganism and you became vegan of what? The age of 20, right? So there's about a five-year difference from when you started cooking and becoming a chef and along your journey and then becoming vegan.

[00:10:16] So what was that epiphany? Or what was that catalyst that made you become vegan or at least like be open to this new lifestyle that you fully adopted?

[00:10:25] Doug: The epiphany was, is I was very unhealthy I grew up in a household where my parents battled addiction their whole lives, whether it was food, alcohol, um, you know, my mother with prescription drugs and they both passed away now.

[00:10:39] and I sort of fell into that role very young as well. You know, by the age of 19, I was, I could drink 40 ounces of whiskey, no problem. And I was smoking two packs of cigarettes a day. And you know, all the other bad stuff you hear about in the food industry. I was doing. And, you know, I needed a change and I didn't know what it was.

[00:11:02] I, you know, I stopped, um, I stopped all the drugs. I stopped all the partying, but I didn't change my diet. And it's kind of a funny story. It's not the woman I'm married to now. I love Candice. Candice, if you ever listened to this, I love you. Um, but I was posting on the Jimmy Kimmel forum. This is like right when Facebook started and I had a, I had a screen name that caught someone's eye and she was a vegan. And that's sort of, that's sort of how this happened.

[00:11:34] And she started, we started talking and she lived in New York and I, after about a year of chatting with her, went and met her. And we started it a two year long distance relationship. And I spent about half my time in Manhattan and I just, over time, I just, you know, I stopped eating meat I didn't become vegan right away, but I stopped consuming meat.

[00:11:59] I did eat a little bit of seafood. I shouldn't say I stopped eating meat, but I did eat a bit of seafood. And then, um, I'll never forget the night. It was, uh, we went to Grammar C Tavern for a tasting menu and we had an eight to 10 course tasting menu and I had traditional and she had vegan we went back to her place and she's like, I just want you to watch this video.

[00:12:20] And it was a Meet your Meat video by PETA. And you know what I saw, I just changed me forever, I just saw these horrific abuses and torture of animals. And that was sort of what that epiphany was. It just caught. And, um, I learned and I read.

[00:12:36] And I went to, courses and I remember going to see Brendan Brasier talk. He, who was the co-founder of Vega, a very successful brand. Written books. And I remember wanting to see Brendan Fraser talk 15, 16 years ago, just about even the effects of stress, which I would love to touch on with you later, too. and the rest, as they say is history.

[00:12:55] I, I was working at the air Canada center at the time on a grill and a steak house. And, uh, I was cooking two to 300 steaks a night, but I was becoming vegan. I was becoming vegetarian. I'm eating my lentils and kale and brown rice. after the least didn't make the playoffs, ba-dum ching. That's sort of my joke that I've used over the years. I went vegan and, uh, that was yeah, somewhere in the area of 16 years ago.

[00:13:20] Josh: Wow. Okay. So I got to ask, what was it like cooking all these stakes, two to 300 steaks a night. After watching that documentary after knowing what you know, and making this whole lifestyle change, like what was going through your mind at that time? Like, obviously you have to do as your job, right?

[00:13:36] Doug: see, I was pretty young at the time and I was advancing through my career pretty quickly. Um, I, you know, I was also the sous chef of, uh, one of the best catering companies, if not the best in Canada. And, you know, I was making my money.

[00:13:49] And you know, at the beginning you have to do what you have to do. you got the information, you digest it and then you think, well, what am I going to do with this information? It was sort of co cognitive dissonance. I didn't want to think of what I was doing. It was just what I was doing.

[00:14:05] But you know, the good feeling about it was I was bringing my lentils to work. I was bringing my Satan to work. I was bringing cashew cheese to work, and these people were tasting it and saying, oh my God, this is really good. Wow. you know, so that went on. And then I remember when the Leafs didn't make the playoffs and I went vegan, I went back to work at the catering company for the summer, and I had pronounced myself vegan and I had tattooed the word vegan on my arm.

[00:14:29] And they all thought I was bananas. They all thought I was loony tunes. but back then, you know, I was also losing a ton of weight and they saw me becoming a different person and leaning out and becoming healthier. So I think that I helped influence them in many ways. I still keep in touch with many of those chefs from back then.

[00:14:46] And many of them I see on social media posting vegan dishes now. So I kind of like I got ya.

[00:14:53] Josh: Interesting. Okay. There's two points there. I think the influence thing is huge. So you said it was a documentary that influenced you to change. And I know for me, so for full disclosure, I would say 90% to 95% of my meals are vegan. I have eggs every once in a while, but I would say mainly vegan, and we can talk about some of the products you're working on, but this is going to help me transition to fully vegan.

[00:15:16] But this is kind of where it gets at that. now you're kind of Influencing culture in such a way that before it was like, okay, you'd have like a meat dish and a couple sides, and like, that would be your meal. Right. And now you're doing some crazy stuff.

[00:15:30] At the beginning, you're bringing lentils and you're bringing kale. Now, you're recreating like ribs and like burgers and stuff that's like, it tastes and feels almost exactly like the meat. So has that, influence you in the moment, where you're cooking meat? Like, okay, I can still have, have this. I can basically have my cake and eat it too, where you can taste meat and it still tastes like everything, but you're getting a nice vegan meal.

[00:15:53] You're not going to have to cook animals and slaughter animals and all these other things that happened in that industry. How much has that actually influenced you?

[00:16:03] Doug: Well, yeah, I mean, my early career, uh, has influenced me greatly because I cooked everything. You know, I knew, or know how everything tastes. I can remember back to braising ribs and brazing duck, and, you know, making deals you with pig Trotters and the body and the depth of flavor and texture. So later on in my career, as I've been able to, uh, create things, I think back to when I originally tasted it.

[00:16:30] So the ribs are a good example. You know, I worked on those. I would say half a year, just trying to get the texture, right. The muscle fibers in the ribs, right. Or the things like my, you know, the Satan meats I make or, you know, the, uh, mushroom calamari, things like that. For me, it really is taste and texture.

[00:16:48] So I'm able to go back in my career and think to when I had it originally. so yeah, a hundred percent that plays such a huge role.

[00:16:55] Josh: That's amazing. And I think what's really cool is like taking that first principle. It's almost like a science and an art, right. You're talking about taste and texture and trying to match it. And you're going, you're almost like reverse engineering that.

[00:17:06] So how do you first even like, think about that you talked about mushroom calamari or like using satan to like recreate meats and like we're seeing everything from the fake meat industry, like recreating, like burgers and chicken, like, like you talked about muscle fibers, like you're recreating that.

[00:17:22] How do you first even think about, okay, how can I make this? What are the first ingredients that I think about? How do you like, take that one thing and realize, oh, I can use this vegetable or I can make this mix. Like, what goes through your mind where like, when you're trying to recreate something like.

[00:17:39] Doug: Well, I mean, I think texture is so important and it's where so many plant-based products, don't hit the nail on the head, so to speak. you have to think texture. And again, because I have that prior history with, you know, having tasted these things, I'm able to think, oh, well, this mushroom is so similar to calimari, or, you know, uh, the hearts of Palm are so similar to soft shell crab. Um, so having that prior knowledge makes such a difference.

[00:18:09] And then I guess for me, it's almost like reverse engineering. You have to deconstruct the dish in your mind, um, in terms of its animal origin and then reconstructed in your mind with plant-based origin. And of course it doesn't happen all the time.

[00:18:23] You know, there's hits and misses. I've, tried my fair share of things that did not work out very well, were not appreciated by my wife or other taste testers. Um, but then when you hit the nail on the head, it's like, wow, this is really good .If not the same, sometimes it's even better than the, the original texture.

[00:18:41] ..So trial and error. but again, having put in those six or seven years of work prior to, uh, taking on a vegan cuisine, as my full-time thing really truly helped, you know, I worked for some great chefs. I worked at some great places, uh, and that just really helped me have a better grasp when I came into the whole, uh, area of plant-based cooking.

[00:19:01] But again, that doesn't mean there wasn't lots of mistakes. Cause there was a lot of mistakes.

[00:19:06] Josh: Oh, I'm sure there's lots of trial and error and it kind of seems like you're like a vegan mad scientist kind of just trying all these different things.

[00:19:13] And, and on that, do you like, do you have a note taking system? You know, you talked about, you know, memory and being like okay, like this meat or this animal origin could be like this plant-based origin.

[00:19:24] Do you have like a system where you like, jot things down where like, okay, parts of Palm can be used for like these things and I can connect it to that. Do you have a system where like, almost scientifically, you take these ingredients and you start jotting them down and then writing notes on them? Like, do You have anything like that?

[00:19:41] Doug: I am a, I'm a hip hop fan and I have been a hip hop fan since I'm 10 years old. And the reason I'm getting into this is I love Nas. Nas is one of the greatest hip hop artists of all time, in my opinion. And he has a whole song about the entrepreneur mind and, you know, I wish I had a intricate system that you're talking about.

[00:20:00] The truth is sometimes I can't sleep because I'm thinking about all the things I want to do. The truth is sometimes they wake up in the morning and I have an epiphany. Literally I will think, oh God, why didn't I, I can do it like this. And then the next time I drove into a kitchen, that's how I do it.

[00:20:15] Uh, I take my inspiration from so many places, you know, I've, I've been blessed enough to be able to travel, um, even to places just like New York city or San Francisco or Montreal or, or whatever, and even going to a traditional restaurant, sometimes not necessarily a vegan restaurant, but a traditional restaurant and seeing what that chef is doing for plant-based really blows my mind.

[00:20:38] Right. Cause I love how traditional chefs can manipulate things, even just like vegetables. You know, when I was in Sweden here a couple of years ago now, cause of coronavirus, I saw some really cool stuff being done with rutabaga. You know, I had never thought to like smoke and braise and this and that.

[00:20:53] And they were taking a rutabaga and it was almost like a deli slice. And I'm like, Ooh, this is really cool. So intricate notes, no. Mind, yes. That's a part of the reason I practice meditation now, but, uh, you know, my mind is always going and I like to take inspiration from everywhere all the time.

[00:21:11] and then it just helps that I have that skillset of cooking. You know, I put in all those years cooking. So I understand cooking, whether it's animals or plants, I understand the basics and you know, the advanced principles of cooking. But then getting the inspiration, just, uh, you know, and applying it to that. That's sort of how I do my thing.

[00:21:27] Josh: That's interesting. Okay. That's really cool. I really would've thought someone with four amazing cookbooks would have some sort of like crazy note system of like, Hey, here's all like all my ingredients and here's all of my recipes. Do you store them that way? Do you have like, at least like some kind of note system for storing them?

[00:21:44] Cause like how do you go from that? You know, you have all these ideas, obviously you're just a naturally and kind of pull from it. How do you then put it together into coherent recipe that you can then share with the world and other people can follow it and make it themselves?

[00:21:56] Doug: Yeah, no, I mean, I do now. Um, I use, I have a lot of storage on Google drive and Dropbox. A lot. Um, and it's funny, you know, I, uh, going back on my notes app for my Mac book, like I'm an apple user, uh, and my notes app, I still have notes from when I got my first book contract and I was so excited.

[00:22:18] I was super young when I got my first book contract. That was 10 years ago. uh, I was 27. and I had just got a contract to write a cookbook, a raw cookbook, raw vegan cookbook, and they wanted 400 recipes. So I do have a fair amount of notes, uh, from them. Uh, and I do have books, um, where I used to keep some of that. Absolutely.

[00:22:39] But, to be honest, a lot of it is just in my brain and nowadays I do, I'll jot it down on the computer, but I like to get in the kitchen, um, and, and try things out.

[00:22:49] I do have a system whereby I will just, I do. So I shouldn't say this. I will have a system and that's my son's name. He wrote his name without me knowing how my book.

[00:22:59] Oh, on several pages. Oh, there we go. On many pages.

[00:23:04] Um, He's trying to say, I will write, uh, red peppers, and I will write onion, and I will write garlic, and olive oil and salt and whatever. And I will write the ingredients. And then as I go, I will write one cup. If it's not a cup, I will write, one cup plus one tablespoon. And then as I go, I will tally that up.

[00:23:28] I do have this gift in a way where I can see the ingredients in a recipe ahead of time. I can taste it ahead of time. Um, and I kind of have an idea of how the structure, is going to work, uh, ahead of time. So I write what I think might be in the recipe down ahead of time.

[00:23:44] I like that you asked me this, I actually do have a method. I didn't, now that I'm talkingit loud I, you know, I will see it. I'll see the ingredients ahead of time and then I'll get in the kitchen and I'll cut and measure, and then I'll figure out how much is needed of what, and if I have to add anything else.

[00:23:59] I should say, usually I'm pretty close, so I don't have to go back and be like, oh, I should have added nutritional yeast or I should have added red wine vinegar. but of course there's things that always have to get corrected as you go.

[00:24:12] Josh: That's interesting. And I'm sure there's some iteration and in between there, especially if it's something new, right. That you're testing out, what does that iteration process look like for you?

[00:24:21] Doug: Honestly, it's just getting into the kitchen and cook. And creating and then serving it to people because you want, at the end of the day, people have to like it, um, you know, good food isn't about what you feel or how you think about it, um, only it has to be the masses have to like it, the people have to like it and, uh, that's true for anything.

[00:24:41] So, you know, even building out previous restaurants that I've worked on, I go in with my team and we cook and create. And at the end of the session, we'd have a tasting and then everyone gathers around a table and they taste. More salt, less salt, it's a little rubbery, oh, it could be softer. Well, this is really good, you know?

[00:24:59] And then I might come and say, yeah, but this is really expensive to make. And then, you know, my business partner at the time, he like, can we make it cheaper? Those are conversations that have had many, many times. yeah. So there's definitely a creative process to everything, especially some of the more intricate things, uh, that I've done over the years, like my vegan egg, like my Ruben, I did a strip loin steak, calamari, things like that. It's definitely lots of iteration as you say.

[00:25:27] Josh: Absolutely. And I actually really want to get into that with the egg. And it's B it's been productized now, right? It's the vegg, right?

[00:25:34] Doug: Yeah. Well, um, so the vegg is a company, um, in New York and they are awesome. I love them and I love the product and I do have a recipe to make it on my own. Um, but it requires some real, several obscure ingredients that you need to find from various sources. Um, so as I've gone into other businesses and work with them, it's easier just to get one central product and have it delivered.

[00:25:59] so working on that, working on creating that has been pretty cool. at first it was just the egg yolk sitting in a piece of tofu and we sear the tofu so it got crispy on either side. And it was cool and that even that got recognition and it got a cover of a magazine and it started to blow up.

[00:26:17] And, you know, I did a video with mercy for animals, uh, animal welfare organization in 2015 or 2016. And it went viral. It had over a million views within a couple of days and it was all because of that egg. Um, so it's, it's been a really cool thing.

[00:26:33] A few years ago in 2018, I guess it was, I started playing around with, getting rid of just that sitting in a tofu aspect and taking the same sort of molecular gastronomy application and creating an egg white.

[00:26:49] and, and that's been really cool. It worked out really well. I was, I remember the first day I, I started creating it, working with it. I was like, oh my God, this is so close to the real thing. Like it blew my mind away. So, um, that's been really cool.

[00:27:03] So I've, you know, I've been fortunate enough to do that egg in various parts of the world. And, uh, it's still on the menus, uh, at a Viva restaurants here in Canada. And, um, soon to be in Charleston, South Carolina, uh, Neon Tiger. It's a restaurant I'm part of down there too.

[00:27:19] Josh: So there's something really cool there, something I really want to pick apart, which is like finding these like really like rare and obscure ingredients and stuff that most people probably don't have in their kitchen's probably even hard to find in most supermarkets. And that was the one thing that really struck me.

[00:27:34] Um, unfortunately I'm not really the cook in the house. Marissa is like her go-to thing everyday. She loves doing it. She watches YouTube videos and listens to podcasts while she cooks. It's like her therapy. She it's like her creative outlet. She loves it. But when she really first started cooking and we were starting to pick apart some of your recipes from the, uh, The Classic Veganized and what I noticed was that there's so many things in here that I didn't even know existed. There were just even ingredients in there I didn't even know existed.

[00:28:06] Cause I'm, I come from a traditional household of, okay. Yeah, you have like piece of chicken, you have some rice and some like steam veggies or something and like, that's it. And then there's these crazy things that come together. And what really struck me is the creativity. The creativity in cooking these vegan meals.

[00:28:22] That you have to get a little bit more creative than just like, okay, yeah, we'll just like sear up this, this meat. How has that influenced you? And how has that changed the way that you cook and the way that you see food? Like it's clearly more creative than the average. And maybe, maybe from my perspective, anyways, it seems like it's more creative than some of the more traditional meals you would find. How do you, how do you think about that?

[00:28:47] Doug: I have to go back to when I first started cooking this way and it's, it's been quite some time. Um, but you're absolutely right. You know, um, my wife and I were actually throwing a bit of a dinner party this Friday for a couple that we know in the area and we love them and they're not, they know nothing about plant-based or vegan.

[00:29:03] And, you know, you have to remember that most of the world is only used to eating, you know, broccoli, potatoes, meat, sandwiches, hot dogs, sausages, white rice, I remember the first time I started learning, researching reading, going to restaurants and seeing things like quinoa croquette and like tahini cream sauce and, just, my mind exploded.

[00:29:28] And it still does to this day, sometimes, you know, I there's so many spices and there's so many different ingredients that we don't know about that are so satiating and so delicious. And I really encourage everyone who listens to this, whether they're going more plant-based or whether they're not even considering going, plant-based just research and read.

[00:29:53] What does that mean? There is so much that can be done. You know, I remember going to this restaurant, it's not there anymore. Unfortunately, Angelica kitchen in New York city. And it was a huge influence for me. It was, I think it was the first vegan restaurant in Manhattan and, um, what they were doing just blew me away.

[00:30:10] I couldn't believe that even the idea of a dessert with no sugar, you know, and, and things like a cashew cream, which today seems standard. But back then, no one was doing that very few were so, yeah, I mean cooking this way to me is limitless. There's so much that can be done. There's still so much being explored and coming out all the time.

[00:30:32] You know, I talked about that rutabaga. I saw in Sweden, the whole idea of watermelon tuna, um, you know, smoking a whole watermelon, uh, you know, there's just so much that can be done is still being done to this day. Aquafaba the cheeses, the meats, everything coming out is just mind blowing. I really still think we are at such an infancy in this cuisine, uh, and you know, in the next five to 10 years, we're just going to see so much more, um, you know, big tech...

[00:31:00] I know you said you're a tech person they're, we're working on creating casein. Casein is that protein and milk that, you know, the reason that vegan cheese hasn't been good, really that good up until now is casein. Well, big tech is working on recreating casein. I think that's pretty cool, you know, so we're going to see things like this coming out in the next decade and the next five years, probably, that's going to change everything up completely. Everything up completely.

[00:31:25] Uh, so, you know, go back, going back to your original question. Yeah, I think it's absolutely amazing. And, uh, I'm just, I'm just grateful that I was there so long ago to be able to see some of this and sort of learn as we grow. Just to see what's going on now every day. I'm just like, wow.

[00:31:41] You know, I remember literally when the only thing you could get in a grocery store was soy milk. Couldn't even get almond milk, and now you can call any pizza chain and get an impossible pizza with four different types of vegan cheese and sprouted, spelt crest and all that. So it's really cool to see how this has progressed and changed over the last 15 years.

[00:32:00] Josh: Yeah, I bet you came at it from like the real infancy. If there's like no almond milk, like almond milk is I think is becoming more popular than regular milk. Like I think most people are kind of opting for almond milk. It's really interesting. I remember the first time I got almond milk, my parents were like, why do you want to drink that?

[00:32:16] Like, that's disgusting. I'm like, what are you talking about? It's great. First of all, it's hilarious. I would imagine. Yeah, back then, there were not many options, like even from then till now, how have you seen things change other than just the almond milk?

[00:32:29] Like, do you think it will take stuff like this to kind of transition people away from, uh, consuming meat to be like, oh, there's a lot more options now. And do you think maybe this could eventually become the norm and people are eating these alternative products?

[00:32:42] Doug: How do I have I seen a change? I mean, I've seen a change to, oh, you're vegan. Oh, what is this? Oh my God. That's so cool. You know, you're at my aunt's vegan, my uncle, my daughter, my nephew, my aunt, my mom, my dad. and you know, people of affluence are, uh, adopting this way of living and eating more.

[00:33:00] And that's making all the difference. You know, um, when people like Beyonce or Oprah or anyone with this huge reach, this huge global reach or business people, you know, Steve Wynn in Las Vegas, he owns half the Las Vegas, the Wynn hotel. And, and when he went vegan, I know he brought in, um, tell Ronan and the vegan chef to do all the, so in any of his hotels, you stay in. Um, at seafood restaurant, pizza restaurant, steak restaurant, there is a vegan menu to go with each style in each restaurant.

[00:33:30] As the years have progressed more and more people, more and more money has gone into it. The marketing, the research it's just been mind blowing and it's just been pretty cool to see.

[00:33:41] And, people are, we are creatures of habit and we are creatures that love pleasure. I have done a lot of studying of the brain in the last three or four years, and we are creatures of habit and creatures of pleasure. So as long as these things taste good, they're affordable, we will make them part of our daily life.

[00:34:01] As you said, most people just buy almond milk now.Almond milk tastes good, it's the same price, if not cheaper. And, uh, it makes people feel better. Why not? You know, The burgers, the hotdogs, the ground rounds, all these things that are coming out into the market now. Yes, I think they're here to stay and if not only save, but just explode, explode bigger than we ever thought.

[00:34:24] Josh: I think so, too. It really seems to me that it's much akin to like the electric vehicle market, like with what Tesla is doing. And it really seems like it's the same kind of mindset. Like that's where I say it comes from almost like the spiritual side of things. Something just like it's a win-win everyone wants to do better. It's coming from that place of let's do better.

[00:34:44] And with the electric vehicle market is exactly that it's like eventually it's going to be cheaper to own and drive an electric vehicle than it is to drive a gas powered one. So obviously people are going to buy and drive electric vehicles. I can definitely see the same thing happening, especially with like this quote unquote fake meat industry, with like beyond meat and impossible foods, where eventually it will be cheaper than to have to be able to farm animals and slaughter them and do all these crazy things. And that's where it's really interesting to me.

[00:35:15] And I kind of want to hear your opinion on the actual fake meat industry, because it seems so divided between vegans who love it and vegans who hate it. And meateaters who love it and meateaters who hate it.. Right?

[00:35:26] There's like vegans who love it. Like, oh yeah. I can still have like a great burger, it tastes like a burger. Then there's vegans on the other side of that spectrum of like, no, you shouldn't even be eating that you should just be eating plants. And why were you trying to recreate meat? And then on the other side, there's meateaters who are like, oh great. I can, I can like reduce my meat intake and I can have this beyond burger and it tastes awesome.

[00:35:45] Same thing on the other side there, why would you even eat that? Like why just have the real thing? So it's a really interesting problem and a really interesting industry, like sub maybe niche within the vegan industry. So I want to hear your thoughts on the fake meat industry and also what you're doing now with, uh, with Modern Meat.

[00:36:02] Doug: When it comes to being healthy, I think it's very important to eat as close to the whole food as possible. I am a proponent and always have been for things like tempeh, avocado, blueberries, things like brown rice and kale. So I'm not against that industry.

[00:36:21] I think it's fantastic, but much like we, as human beings would not eat burgers every single day, regardless of whether it's plant-based or not. I think that there is a time and place for everything.

[00:36:33] So I think it's fantastic as a transitional food. I think that, you know, if my dad were still alive today, I'd be able to give him these items and he would say, oh wow, this is really good. And I didn't know that this was made from P protein. I think it's fantastic, but I do think it's important that we eat as clean as possible as whole food as possible, as much as possible.

[00:36:57] No, one's perfect. You know, I love my bottle of wine and, and my French fries once a week. But, um, I think that, you know, As these things become more and more prevalent, it's important to read labels. You know, a preservative is still a preservative, whether it's plant-based or not, um, high fat, high oil, high, salt, high sugar is still, uh, it is what it is, uh, you know, and it's important to know what you're putting into your body.

[00:37:25] No, one's perfect. I am definitely not that person myself, but I think that it's good to have these things once in a while. Um, and you know, listen, at the end of the day, I am a chef and what people go to dine out at restaurants for especially is higher fat, higher sugar, higher salt. People love these foods.

[00:37:46] People love comfort foods. So, um, to see things like beyond burger, you know, I think it's fantastic. You know, if I'm out and about traveling or I, you know, whatever, and I'm close to a fast food restaurant that has a beyond burger. Absolutely I would grab one, you know, but it's not something you want to have every single day, right?

[00:38:04] It's just like anything. It's not, it's a processed food. And, um, it goes back to my raw food days because at my first two cookbooks were raw vegan. And part of the reason raw food was so popular was so popular and is so good for you in my opinion, is every ingredient in a raw food recipe in a dish is that one ingredient there's nothing processed about it.

[00:38:26] The more process and ingredient is the more processing your body has to do. And that just makes you feel tired, making it makes you feel lethargic. Uh, you can have digestive issues. So again, I think it's a good thing in moderation. I don't think that we should be consuming these things every day. And we do have to remember things like beans and brown rice and kale and lentils.

[00:38:47] They're fantastic too. Just to season them, and they make you feel full and they're really good. So that's my 2 cents on the fake meat industry.

[00:38:56] Josh: That's awesome. No, I think it's a really good balanced view of that. Cause it's so right. I mean, one of the things you brought up was it, you know, you go to a restaurant and apparently I've heard this a lot from a lot of, people's like the reason why food tastes so good when you eat out is cause they just put a little bit more fat, a little bit more salt and sugar than you probably would at home. Is that true?

[00:39:15] Doug: Yeah. I mean restaurants, unless you're going to a specific health food restaurant, you're going to get higher fat, higher sugar, um, higher salt. It's just the way it works. I remember being, um, a young apprentice and I asked my chef, I said, chef, what's the difference between a chef and a cook and I'll never forget.

[00:39:33] He walked over to the salt bin. He picked up salt and he put some in the tomato sauce. He says salt. So, you know, there's, it's just a matter of you seasoned things a little more, it's, you know, a little more olive oil than you would at home. Um, but again, you know, these things are moderation things you don't eat.

[00:39:51] You're not beyond burgers. Aren't meant to eat every single day. Right? You don't go to a restaurant every single day, you know? So regardless of whether it's plant-based or not, we should still be mindful of our diets and what we put into our body.

[00:40:03] Josh: Agreed. And so for you, what's your sort of, go-to maybe meal or handful of meals when you are cooking at home. Something that's a little bit healthier, something that's quick and easy to cook up. Something that maybe you can share with people listening that if they're looking to, you know, create something healthy at home, something simple and easy to make it.

[00:40:21] Doug: No, I've always been a fan of tempeh. I love it. Um, I know people have had their bias against it. It is fermented beans. Um, it can taste like fermented beans. It can taste a little state stinky, and, but if you manipulate it properly and season it, it is fantastic. It's very filling. It's very high in protein, iron and calcium.

[00:40:43] Um, protein is something I have been cautious of for a very long time. I've always I've always tried to maintain a fair amount of protein going into my body. I'm a big guy. I like to exercise. I lift weights. Um, so you know, things like brown rice, Tempe, uh, kale, broccoli, sweet potato. I love making tahini sauce.

[00:41:03] Things like that for me are just my go-to, you know, in our fridge at home, we always have cooked quinoa, cooked brown rice, roasted sweet potatoes, roasted beets, again, sort of just like whole foods. I love roots. Um, root vegetables, you know, especially in the fall and the winter here in Canada, which is pretty much 80% of the time, um, in the summer it's lighter, you know, I have a lot of smoothies and, um, but again, I, you know, quinoa things like that.

[00:41:30] Healthy breads, I love healthy breads. So sourdough or Ezekiel bread, sprouted bread, almond butter. Um, I have a little guy, my son, Ewuen and, um, at the time of recording, this is almost six years old, so there's always lots of carbs around little, little kids love carbs. So I'm always finding myself snacking a little bit of pasta when I shouldn't be, but it's all good.

[00:41:51] Josh: It is. And I think like people will maybe demonize carbs more than they should. And it's like, it depends on what you're doing. If you're really active and you're doing stuff you're working out, but I think it's fine. Right. We brought up a good point with, with the protein and I kind of want to hear it from you, from an expert, like you're eating vegan.

[00:42:07] Like what are some of the biggest, um, sources of protein that people can be looking out for? It? You mentioned tempeh which is one that's a little bit less known. People usually opt for like tofu. What are some of these other ones, you know, One of the biggest things, people like, oh, you're vegan. Where do you get your protein? Like, there's plenty of sources.

[00:42:23] Doug: You know, one of my favorite that has always been my favorite for, for, since, since I became vegan are hemp seeds. Um, they are a fantastic source of protein. One tablespoon to hemp seeds is up to five grams of complete protein. So you're getting all your amino acids that you need and from an outside source.

[00:42:40] And so if you put that in perspective, you could take three or four tablespoons and sprinkle that on a salad or even on brown rice. And you're getting 15 to 20 grams of complete protein. Uh, you could throw, you know, what I generally do with smoothies is I don't use powders anymore. Protein powders, I'll just put three or four tablespoons of hemp seeds into a smoothie.

[00:43:00] And that not only does the fat, which you get good source of omega three fatty acids too, from hemp seeds, but it thickens the smoothie. It makes it creamy and rich. So hemp seeds, nuts seeds. I love tofu as well, uh, chickpeas, uh, Sacha inchi, which is kind of cool. Uh, you can get it as a protein powder.

[00:43:20] They're putting in some more things now, uh, but just, you know, eating nuts, almonds, you know, I think we worry so much about protein and we don't put an emphasis on other things, you know, Omega's and iron and calcium and macro nutrients and antioxidants. And, you know, generally speaking, we eat such an inflammatory diet here in north America. If not the world. Uh, but especially in north America,

[00:43:47] You know, we really need to focus on anti-inflammatory foods and getting away from processed vegetable oils and sugars and salts. And I mean, I could go on about this forever, but you know, proteins, hemp seeds. I love them. I encourage people to try it out.

[00:44:02] Hemp seeds are the same thing as hemp hearts, it's marketing terms. Um, and I encourage everyone to try them out.

[00:44:09] Josh: that's awesome. I've been putting hemp seeds or I guess hemp parts technically on my smoothie. So that's good. I'm just going to double that up and maybe start reducing protein powder. Although I do use pea protein, but still it's good. You know, it's, it feels a little bit more whole foods to do something like that.

[00:44:23] But you actually bring up a really good point. It's like we put too much emphasis on like, you need to get the protein need X grams of protein every day, but not enough emphasis on the other health benefits of eating vegan. So another one of my favorite books, I'm sure you might've read is How Not to Die is basically a vegan book.

[00:44:41] It's like, here's the things You can eat. It's all natural foods, how to, you know, have anti-inflammatory benefits to your body. And it seems like that was one of the main reasons, right. That you became vegan was the health benefit of it.

[00:44:53] So like, what would you say to people who are kind of on the fence of becoming vegan or, you know, just at least trying more things. What are some, some maybe resources, what are some things you'd say to people to kind of encourage that?

[00:45:07] Doug: You know, there is a fantastic book, which I still go by as the gold standard. Um, and it's called Becoming Vegan and it's by the Santo Molina and Brenda Davis. And Brenda Davis, I love her. I have a, I have a crush on her. I did an event with her a couple of years ago. I told her I actually did an iron chef competition and she was on the other team and I won, I was a chef AJ and Brenda, and I beat them.

[00:45:29] But, um, it's a fantastic book. And it goes through all of the RDA for everything. RDI, sorry, recommended daily intake. You know, we as human beings in order to function and thrive, we have to have a certain amount of everything in our diets. And whether you get it from plants, whether you get it from animals, you still have this RDI and her book breaks down everything, whether it's iron, protein, calcium, omega, zinc, full, late vitamin D vitamin K, all these things.

[00:46:00] And, um, she shows you and walks you through, uh, how to get it all eating a plant-based diet. So I highly recommend her as her work. But, uh, yeah, I just, uh, check out the RDI.

[00:46:14] And, I have always sort of likened it to dating, uh, going, plant-based going vegan. And that is, you want to get to know the diet. You don't want to rush into it right away. You know, if you rush into it, it's not going to work out.

[00:46:30] You really want to get to know it. Take your time. Um, no, that's what I did. I, I didn't go vegan overnight. I sort of, oh, okay, so this is how I'm going to feel fuller. This is what I'm going to do, and this works and this doesn't work. Um, and that's how I've been able to sort of sustain it for as long as I have.

[00:46:46] So take your time, do your research and, uh, go slow. I think that that's the most important thing. Any big change in life. I think it's the same sort of, um, thing. Go slow. Take your time, get to know it.

[00:46:59] Josh: That's awesome. Okay. That's fantastic. And of course, um, you know, you mentioned earlier, People to start looking into these other ingredients that it can be using in the speaking diet. So I'm just going to plug this for you. Um, cause it's your latest book. Anyone, honestly, if you're watching, you're listening, just pick this book up, classics veganized.

[00:47:18] It is incredible. Like, especially if like you're making that transition and you're like, yeah, but I, I miss my fish and chips, you know, I miss my ribs, you can still make it and Doug will show you how.. So that, that I think is one of the big things that will really influence people because they're like, oh, okay, you're not going to miss anything.

[00:47:34] So I think that's really cool. And I really want to switch gears here, now, Doug, I really want to get more deeper into entrepreneurship and creativity with you here because what you're doing here is amazing and you do so many different things.

[00:47:46] You've been quoted to say your M.O. Is that you do a lot of different things. You're not just a chef, you're an entrepreneur. And you, as you mentioned earlier, you have one life to live. So you do do a lot of things.

[00:47:57] Maybe you can kind of walk us through some of the other things you do outside of being a chef, because there's so much in this industry. And it seems like you have a little bit of knowledge and a little bit of wisdom to share in all these different areas. Uh, you have lots of different services that you do. Maybe you can kind of like give a broad sense of these other things you're doing, in the food biz.

[00:48:18] Doug: I think that so many people rush into opening restaurants or starting food businesses because they can make food taste good. Um, not understanding that business and, cooking food are not the same thing, not at all.

[00:48:34] And, um, you know, I've been doing what I do now and in some sort of capacity in the food industry for 23 years, almost a quarter century, I feel, I feel old saying that, but I've, you know, I've learned a heck of a lot of information over those years and been able to see and, and be grateful enough just to be part of so many different business ventures and basically seeing what does and doesn't work.

[00:48:59] Um, so, you know, I, yeah, I offer consulting services. I can do everything from create an entire menu of food, source it, and food costs it and execute it and train it and teach it and inspire and to, um, branding, I see branding and marketing now on, in a different light, in a different way, and I can help people get a better brand tone, better brand voice. Packaged goods. You know, I, I started doing a product development several years ago and I started to learn more and more about that industry. And that's been really interesting to learn as well. Um, but you know, for me, it's always been about being creative. I love being creative. I love being able to start with nothing and over time, take it to something.

[00:49:45] And to me, that's one of the things of entrepreneurship. You have a vision. And you see that vision and you work towards you get till you get towards that vision and any going to be easy. It is not easy.

[00:49:57] Entrepreneurship is, I'm going to curse here. It's fucking hard my friend. It's fucking hard. You have to be able to deal with the good and the bad.

[00:50:08] And I think that's one of the things that has allowed me to sort of stay, uh, you know, relevant, I guess you say it or stay doing what I do for the last, uh, well, as an entrepreneur for decade, is just being able to go with the ebbs and flows, right? And this whole idea of, you know, one day you're making 10 grand, the next day, you're get a bill for $7,000 and you're just like, oh my gosh.

[00:50:33] You know, it's ups and downs and, and it's life. And it's the universe and things teach you certain things. And I don't know, it's, uh, it's fun. And you know, I think there's also a part to entrepreneurship. You have to be open and honest and you try things.

[00:50:52] And if you have a client, you might say, Hey, listen, I don't have a lot of doing this, but I'm not going to charge you a lot of money. Let's do this together. Let's see what happens. And sometimes it just kicks ass. Sometimes it works out like you wouldn't believe, and it blows you away. And sometimes it doesn't work.

[00:51:07] And that's the beauty of entrepreneurship, you know? I don't think you ever really truly fail. You either fail or you learn. And that's something that's taken me a long time to sort of understand, because you look at all these failures and you look back and like, oh, I failed, I failed. I failed. It felt okay. It didn't work out, but that's not the right way to look at it. You have to look at it like, oh, it didn't work out. But I learned more than you can imagine.

[00:51:32] And, uh, I think that's, you know, one of the things I like to, um, to apply into the business world, you know, as I work with various clients and do different things.

[00:51:42] Josh: It seems like you're taking your creative side and you're doing the same thing in business. Like there's, there's no difference there, like entrepreneurship, it's business that you have to know the numbers you have to kind of, it's all these different terms and things, you're going to have to memorize and learn and know and everything with that.

[00:51:59] But then there's a creative side of entrepreneurship and it seems like you bring the same mindset in, of you just mentioned before, you can taste an entire meal or an entire dish before it's even made. And you can think of it. You can visualize it before it's even made. Then you find all the constituent parts, then you put it together and it's the same thing with business, right?

[00:52:18] So for you over, I mean, you've done so many different things. What separates something that is unsuccessful from successful? Like you just mentioned the failure and you're just seeing it as a lesson to learn. How would you actually, you know, maybe now knowing what you know, how could you kind of, how can you skip that step?

[00:52:39] How could you now know what might be successful and what might not be, do you have any kind of inclination there when it comes to visualizing.

[00:52:47] Doug: Uh, my friend, I think, I think it's one of the most important questions any entrepreneur can get, and I thank you for asking me.

[00:52:54] You know, you can do what you do for many reasons. Money is obviously always one of them. We all need money. We all, I think most people enjoy money unless you're a monk living into that, which I have a lot of respect for monks. I, I, trust me, there's been times where I'm like, Candace, I'm going to Tibet!

[00:53:13] Um, if you're doing something only for money, no good. No, the passion won't be there. The desire, the push, you know, Um, as much as I believe in self care, I think more than anything now, there is still times where, as an entrepreneur, you're going to put in a 16 hour day and if your passion and your, your soul isn't in it, you're just not going to push through that 16 hour day, or you won't even do it.

[00:53:38] So I think doing things not only for money is so important, ego, um, you know, ego is something I've really been fascinated with, especially in the last year or so of my life and understanding ego and, and, uh, you know, even the whole idea of understanding ego, I think it's ego base.

[00:53:57] Um, but you know, ego is who we tell, who we tell ourselves we are and well, I am a famous chef, so I'm going to do this restaurant on this street with this person, because you know, and that's not good either. Uh, I'm not saying we don't need some ego. We have to, right. Ego does help us in many ways.

[00:54:16] and then the third piece of advice is you kind of listen to your self, listen to your intuition, listen to your gut feeling.

[00:54:25] I actually had a deal on the table last week and it was good. It was good money. And I was about to get the contract and I, you know what, I just talked it out with myself, talk to them with my wife and I just, I politely declined at the last minute.

[00:54:42] And I gave that up because there was something about it at that point in time that didn't feel right. And I think that is true growth. Not that I'm telling my own horn, but I think that that's true growth and that's true development is being able to say no because it doesn't feel right because it's not coming from the right place.

[00:55:03] Business is everything, when you're an entrepreneur. It's your life, it's your livelihood. It's literally the food you put on the table. And I think that if it's coming from the right place, If it's coming from true, honest, open discussion, and it feels right to you, it's going to be successful. And, uh, I can tell you anything that I've ever done in my career, where that's been the case, has been truly successful. And the other things I've learned from, know,

[00:55:34] Josh: Absolutely. And do You think that any of that has to do with having a good foundation? Like I tell a lot of people like don't quit your day job too soon, you know, maybe have another source of income because you know, people always talk about fuck you money, right. So it's almost like you're able to, I'm not saying your fuck you money, maybe, maybe not. But you're able to politely say, fuck you, um, to these deals or things that you don't feel right about. Right.

[00:55:57] So, you know, we talk about money not being everything, but you kinda, I feel like you have to have some sort of like base. So like, I, again, I tell people like, don't quit your day job too soon. Do you have any other advice like that? When it comes to the financial aspect of it, to make sure that they have like a base level of security so they can follow their higher path, so to speak.

[00:56:17] Doug: at the beginning of one's career and I'm 10 years in, so I'm not at the beginning anymore. Um, oh, well, although someone 30 years and might say you are, um, you know, at the beginning you have to say yes to a lot of things because you're still building that foundation. So, I mean, that's a fantastic question again, my friend.

[00:56:34] At the beginning, you're building a career, you're building that base. You're trying to climb that mountain and you do need to say yes to more things because yes, money. You'd have to pay things. You have to pay people, staff bills, insurance, you know, podcast hosting costs, everything costs money, and in doing so you're going to make mistakes.

[00:56:52] And again, you know, if I could talk to 27 or 28 year old Douglas, I would say, Doug, you know what? It's okay. You're going to, you're going to fuck up my friend. You are going to fuck up a ton. Try not to take it personally. Try not to get too upset over it. Pick yourself up, be resilient. That's a great word that I've really started trying to embrace in my life the last couple of years, be resilient and just keep going, you know, um, you're not going to be everyone's cup of tea and your food isn't in your personality and the way you do things, it's not going to be everyone's cup of tea.

[00:57:28] Right. It's now things, things aren't going to work out. So again, going back to the beginning, yeah, you do need to build that base. You do need to say gas more often, but just know that, you know, it's okay to make mistakes and, and you know,

[00:57:40] The other thing I'll say is at the beginning, especially, is don't spend, as soon as you get a contract, a you're at the beginning, you have a little bit of money, be frugal, right. Don't spend. Spend a couple of years.

[00:57:53] There is a fantastic quote that I heard when I first started. I can't remember exactly what it is, but it's something basically like live like no one else would live for a short period of time, so you can live like no one else would live for the rest of your life. It's basically goes like that.

[00:58:07] At the beginning, you got to eat lentils every day. You gotta go to your cheapest grocery store and get the cheapest broccoli. And that's what you can afford at the beginning. And you do that for a short period of time. And you're building that foundation. You're building that success.

[00:58:23] You're building that career in five years, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 years from now, you can turn down that really lucrative deal because you've made the mistakes, because you can look back and be like, oh yeah, that's not right. That's not the true me. Right.

[00:58:36] So that's my advice to anyone that's listening to this and starting out and, um, just be careful, you know, just be careful, be mindful and enjoy the process.

[00:58:47] Josh: Yeah, I love that so much. Cause it's so true. Especially people early on, like it comes back to the ego thing, right? Like you're making some money or even if you're not, you're like, Hey, I want to drive the nice car. I want to go to these nice restaurants. I want to go out all the time. I want to subscribe to every movie streaming platform out there.

[00:59:03] Like I want to do all the things that my friends are doing because they have these high paying jobs. It's like, well, I think that quote that you brought up is perfect, is you have to be frugal in the early years. And then eventually you leapfrog them. Ideally, if you're doing really well and you're successful, then it's okay.

[00:59:17] Like yeah, these people are making six figures, whatever it is, but they have a ceiling, like that's as much as they could ever earn, right. But as an entrepreneur, if you can hold on and you can create something of value and people are liking what you're doing, I think you can kind of leapfrog that. And eventually you have unlimited return potential if you are bringing that value to the world. So I absolutely love that and I completely completely. Uh, jive with that.

[00:59:45] Doug: And

[00:59:45] let me just interrupt. let me just let me just interrupt and say, it's not just about money. I think that the reason I do what I do is also for my time. You, when you are in charge of your own time, I think personally that's worth more than any 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 figure job in the world.

[01:00:04] You look at some of the most successful people in terms of finances, they've committed suicide. They are depressed, right?

[01:00:11] When you are in control of your own time. I think for me, that is true success. When you can go to three weeks, a month, three months without having to quote work, to me, that is the ultimate form of success, you know?

[01:00:25] And, uh, and for me now, later on in my life and my career, I have this little boy that I love so much in this family. And the fact not that I have Jay Z money or anything, but the, but the fact that I can, you know, go and pick him up from day camp for school almost any day of the week. I think for me, that is, that is the value right there in entrepreneurship 100%.

[01:00:47] Josh: Oh 100%.

[01:00:48] It's the control of your own destiny, right? It's not being told what to do, but you can kind of do what you want to do. You're almost like free in this world. Like one of the biggest things I keep bringing up in this podcast, and when I speak to people, it's something that I write about quite a bit is about, you know,

[01:01:03] I kind of see this world as we're almost like in a video game and it's like an open world, MMO RPG, like a grand theft auto type game.

[01:01:10] But a lot of people are playing games that other people are telling them to play, right. That's their job. Like they're playing this game day in, day out, but when you break free of that, you start playing your own games. That's when life gets really, really interesting.

[01:01:21] Do you have anything like that? Are you a, are you a gamer? Do you have anything on that sort of, um, on that note where you kind of think about life as a game or like stages of growth and development, do you, do you think about that at all?

[01:01:34] Doug: You're fantastic at this, my friend, I love these questions. Um, I didn't use to, you know, I I was voted best chef in Toronto in 2017 and still it's an honor to be able to say that and not best vegan chef or plant-based chef, but best chef in this whole, in the city of Toronto.

[01:01:53] But

[01:01:53] Josh: man. That's awesome.

[01:01:54] Doug: You. Thank you very much. But it you know, I It was the least healthy I had been in my life and, and, you know, so I had all this quote success on the outside, but on the inside, I was like, I was the heaviest I had been, I was unhealthy, I was eating poorly drinking poorly. I was drinking 10 cups of coffee a day. I was, it was just not good.

[01:02:14] And I took a course with a good friend. Her name is Kim Carol, and it's sort of a life reboot course. And I took this life reboot course. And it was a two month course. You need met with eight people every week. and, you know, there was meditation, there was reflection. There was, exercises every single day.

[01:02:31] But one of the things that sat with me most was on the last day of the class, it was our graduation day and it was the last meditation we did. And it was, you look back at your life and you're on a porch and you're older and you look back on your life and were you present? Were you there for. Were you there where you do you remember it?

[01:02:51] And up until that point, I had not been present for my life. I had not been, you know, not enjoying what had been happening to me. I was always in this mode of trying to prove myself. So to answer your question, I've gone back since, and yes, I think that we go through these stages of life and they happen for a reason.

[01:03:11] I truly believe everything happens for a reason. And I think that they are there to teach you and show you how you need to grow, to get to the next level, whether it's in business, whether it's personal, whether it's spiritual, financial, mental, emotional, whatever it is.

[01:03:27] Life is short, my friend and I said it earlier, but life is short. We're here for this like little, tiny period of time. Right. We think that it's going to go on forever, but it's not. Uh, you know, once your thirties are done, they're done. Once your forties is on, you're done. Then you get to, your fifties are done. You're, you're staring down the last, what? 20 to 30 years of your life, 40, if you're lucky. That's not a lot of time, you know?

[01:03:49] So I try and embrace every single day with just getting up and being grateful and just saying shit, man alive. Right? I'm alive. I have food in the fridge. I have a floor, I have a bed. I have a beautiful little son who calls me daddy in, you know, calls me these crazy names and runs away, naked running it.

[01:04:09] Like it's just, life is beautiful. Life is messy. Life is life. Life is what it is, you know, and again, I sort of look back and say, what could I say to Douglas, you know, from five years ago even, and just be like, it's okay.

[01:04:23] Step by step. You're going to be okay. A lot of weird wacky things are going to come your way. Um, you chose this path, my friend, you chose this path, you said, I'm going to be Doug McNish, this famous vegan chef. I'm going to travel the world, I'm going to create an egg and a vegan state. Well, with that comes experiences and you meet people and things happen.

[01:04:43] And, and, um, but again, to, to surround it all out with you, I truly believe everything happens for a reason and things come along to teach you, um, step of the way.

[01:04:53] Josh: That is so true, man. And that I really, really appreciate that wisdom because that is exactly what I needed to hear. So I'm sure there's a lot of people listening to this, like, whoa. You know, things come at you when, when you need it, you know, I truly believe that too. Like when you're ready for it.

[01:05:07] follow up question to that, that I don't think a lot of people get asked, and this is kind of interesting. Let's flip this around.

[01:05:13] What would 60 or 70 year old Doug tell Doug now? What do you think he would be telling you if you were to project? What do you think he would be telling you?

[01:05:24] Doug: Oh, my friend. Uh, that's a good question. You know, again, one of the things I've taken up in the last few years is a lot of journaling. Um, because I have this entrepreneur mind, it's like, okay, we need to go here. When you do this, when you do that email, this person, um, that everything's going to be okay.

[01:05:41] In the end, it's all gonna work out. Not to stress too much over things. You know, stress is a natural thing, but not to take yourself too seriously. And that in the end, it's all gonna work out. Everything's gonna be fine.

[01:05:53] we have these primitive brains that are always trying to keep us safe and, uh, we have to remind ourselves that we're safe. You know, there's no lion chasing us. There's no tiger chasing us. We are fine. Everything will work out. We will always have enough money. We will always have enough love. Even when you think you don't have it, you will always have.

[01:06:13] And I like to think that's what, 60 or 70 year old Doug wood would say to me now. Embrace it. Stay, present. Everything will be okay.

[01:06:22] Josh: That's amazing. And it seems like you have a really healthy relationship now with stress and dealing with things. And I think that's really important for entrepreneurs, um, just because of, you know, the effects on not just like how you perform, but on your, your actual life you were just talking about when you're like, probably at the peak height of your success, of what you thought you could ever achieve. You're you're most stressed.

[01:06:42] So what were these effects of stress and how have you really learned to deal with it? Cause it seems like you're in a totally different place now and you're, you have a really healthy relationship with your mind and being able to deal with that.

[01:06:53] Doug: Well, first of all, I grew up with parents who, especially my mother who had a lot of, um, uh, mental problems. And I think that I'm predispositioned in a way to have some issues too. I think that I need to consistently work on myself, work on my mind, work on how I think and feel.

[01:07:10] I started very young, um, in my opinion, you know. Cooking, first of all, I was a young teenager in high school. I achieved a fair amount at a fairly young age. And I had all these experiences without understanding what was coming my way.

[01:07:27] Stress, I knew nothing about, and it really, it took over my whole life and I didn't even know it, but I was running on fumes for years, my friend. Like, I stopped exercising because I needed to put in all the hours I needed in my business that I thought I needed. You know, I worked, I think I spent seven years where I took a week off. I spent seven years going like that. Just non-stop working from morning to night.

[01:07:54] I didn't exercise. I didn't eat properly. I wasn't talking to myself right. My family, my friends, even my staff, I was a jerk to, um, sometimes. And add on coffee, you know? And then you add on the pressures of paying the bills and, you know, I was doing the cooking, but I also had to do all the numbers and I didn't even know how to do the numbers.

[01:08:16] So the stress, I mean, I put on a ton of weight. Um, I'm still working to take it off, but I mean, I'm, I'm good. I've lost 20 pounds. Uh, so far 20 twenty-five pounds in the last couple months. And I'm lifting weights almost every day. Yoga, meditation, mindfulness, uh, just journaling, just reminding myself. It's a constant battle.

[01:08:37] Like just you're telling yourself like, everything's okay. You're okay. Like I love myself. I never did any of that before. It was always, you're not good enough. You're not gonna be able to pay the bills. Not enough, not enough, not enough, not enough.

[01:08:52] I came up at a time too, where social media had just started and, you know, knowing what I know now about social media. Oh, it's, it can be one of the worst things on the face of the planet, because you're always comparing yourself to others. You're getting dopamine hits constant dopamine hits. Right. That's why we scroll. We look like dopamine, dopamine. Oh, I'm seeing the dopamine dopamine. And then when you take that away, you don't have it.

[01:09:17] So I just did all the wrong things for way too many years. So on the outside, it looked like I had all this success, but on the inside I was hurting my friend. And, um, you know, it, it was really tough. It was a really tough time of my life, but, you know, I'm glad I went through it because it's helped make me who I am today.

[01:09:36] And I think that is the most important thing is who we are today. Not who we are last week, not who we are a month ago, a year ago. Not even yesterday as who we are today. all of those things that I went through, I've really helped make me who I am today. And so I'm as hard as it's been to go through anything that I've gone through, I I'm grateful for it, um, because it's just helped me grow immensely.

[01:10:03] Josh: Yeah, that's amazing. And I think it's so true. Like people change, like we, no one's stuck as one thing or one person like who you are, like you said a week ago, a month ago, a year ago is not who you are today. You can change. Like whether that's like learning something new to become,

[01:10:16] I'm sure if you really, really want it to, you have the internal skills to be like, I don't want to be a chef anymore, I'm going to start a tech company. You you'll figure it out. Right? Like people can change their entire identities around it. But a lot of people like to stick their previous identity as on them. Like maybe a friend you haven't spoken to in like a year, five years, you go and speak to them. You go have coffee with them. You're like, wow, they're not even the same person.

[01:10:40] And literally every seven years or so, every single cell in our body gets replaced. So you're not even physically the same person. So it's interesting how you've gone through all that. And I know we just spoke about it right at the beginning of this, but at the end of all this, of your stress and this sort of like old lifestyle, on top of all this, you went through cancel culture too.

[01:11:01] And now clearly everything has changed. You're completely different person here. Is there anything you want to talk about when it comes to cancel culture in that experience that you went through? Cause that's not something that everyone goes through, especially, you know, someone in the public eye, like yourself.

[01:11:15] Doug: I, I do want to start off just by saying, do I think cancel culture is a good thing? No, I don't. Because what we are doing is basically saying someone can no longer grow because they once were this terrible human being. And that therefore they're no longer allowed to make a living. There are no longer allowed to, to be themselves to do their vocation. And I think that that is completely wrong.

[01:11:44] what happened to me caught me off guard completely. I had no idea, uh, what was going to happen in October of 2020. I remember friends sending me screenshots of people calling me racist and transphobic and all of these different things.

[01:12:00] And it really hit me hard. I just couldn't believe what was being said, but, you know, I think that by that point I had done a fair amount of growth already. So to read things, you know, that were said about me going back to 2009, I had someone from elementary school say I was, you know, a really bad person in grade four.

[01:12:29] And I was, you know, I grew up in a household with a mother with mental illness. And I lashed out on kids when I was a little kid, because I didn't know what I was doing. So to see all of that set about me at that time, it was hard, my friend. It was, I mean, it was probably the most difficult thing I've ever experienced in my life.

[01:12:50] Um, you know, I had just signed the deal with copper branch. I had just released a cookbook. I had just done all these things. I had signed another deal. And, uh, and I've, I lost all of that, you know.

[01:13:04] And, and it's cancel culture is, you know, I've openly and publicly acknowledge that I made mistakes in the past. And I explained that I am evolving and changing and those mistakes and that person who I was then should not define who I am now. Who you are now needs to define who you are now. And I think that is the most important thing.

[01:13:32] And people hide behind computers. And I shouldn't say hide behind computers, people sit behind a computer. And one of the things that we do to each other, and this is what I've noticed on social media is we treat each other like we're not human. We de-humanize, we forget that behind the other computer or phone is a person as a father, as a husband, as a brother, as a mother, as a son is a, is a real human being with emotions and feelings and thoughts.

[01:14:00] I am not trying to victimize myself in any way, shape or form. I admitted I made mistakes. I admitted that I wasn't the best version of myself when I was younger. kitchen culture is not one of inclusivity. And looking back on what I did say when I was younger, you know, I am ashamed of myself from that.

[01:14:20] But again, I was younger. I was, you know, there was points in times where I was running on fuels and, and, and just not living life the way I should. And, um, so, you know, I, I apologize, but you know, for me, I want to move on. I think it's time to move on, and I have so much more that I want to share with the world, in terms of plant-based cuisine.

[01:14:47] And I've made it very clear to anyone, you know, that, that, that said things about me, my door is always open to connect. I offered for people to meet with me, to call me to do zoom. Things like I took gender sensitivity training. I've had a lot of deep, deep conversations with people in the last eight, nine months. And, you know, I think that the most important thing that we can do as human beings is make long lasting change for the betterment of our shared society and planet.

[01:15:22] And, if anyone who said anything about me before is ever going to listen to this, please, I honestly, I'm still here. I I'm, I'm willing to have a conversation in person in zoom, however you want to have it because I think it's, it's the only way that we can get better as human beings.

[01:15:41] you know, the unfortunate thing I've learned about cancel culture is that the majority of people, they get worse because you are told you're a bad person and you go looking for the same people that agree with you. Instead of doing that inner work, you go looking for the, the bigots, essentially you go looking for those people.

[01:16:00] So, you know, I, I think cancel culture is terrible. In a way, I'm grateful it happened to me. Um, but, uh, you know, I, I wish that there was more conversation and less, you're bad. You're a witch. We're going to burn you at the stake. We need to have open conversation. And I think that that's the most important thing that we can have in today's world. And there's just too much of this.

[01:16:26] My favorite Buddhist meditation teacher is Tara Brock. I love her. I've listened to her for a decade and she calls it bad othering. And the bad other thing is you're just creating another person who's different than you. At the end of the day, we're all made from the same molecules, you know, carbon and water and things like that. And we all need to understand that we need each other to co-exist in this world.

[01:16:49] And, uh, so instead of bad othering someone and canceling them, we need to have these deep conversations. Why did this. How can you get better? And if at that point, then that person's not willing to do the work and not willing to change. I get it. Maybe they shouldn't be doing what they're doing. Maybe they do need to seek therapy and get help. But until that happens, I, you know, I think, uh, we need just to embrace love my friend.

[01:17:14] We'd love for you. Lots of love.

[01:17:16] Josh: It's true, man. And I gotta say, I'm so glad that you are not canceled and you are on canceled, Doug. Yeah. Thank God. They say, if they're canceled is like, you just got to give it some time, like let people do their thing. And it really is a product of social media.

[01:17:30] Like you said, like the only other time that this would happen is like in a elementary school classroom or like in the office or something. But now that it's global, it gets crazy.

[01:17:40] And I think you're right with social media, people dehumanize them and it gets amplified even more when there were celebrity. Like a lot of people didn't even see celebrities as an actual human being. It's ridiculous. When you have Kevin Hart who can't host the Oscars because he tweeted something seven years ago. It's just ridiculous.

[01:17:57] I think there's a lot of things are happening right now, or this is still very new and we don't know how to deal with this. People don't really know how it works. And then people's, animalistic instincts kick in on social media, and you said they were hidden there behind a screen and there's.

[01:18:12] They're doing whatever they want, whatever they think they can get away with. And a lot of them, they're saying these things behind a pseudonym, they don't even have a real name. They don't even have a real profile photo. Twitter is the worst for that sometimes.

[01:18:23] But I'm glad that you had learned from this and it's, it sucks. Like, I can't even imagine, like I've maybe gone through similar things in like high school, whatever, but that's amplified when it's like in the public. I couldn't even imagine that. So I'm glad that you learned from that and it's really, really shitty.

[01:18:39] But you also bring up a really interesting point about the kitchen culture. Cause I've heard stories from Matty Matheson, which maybe he's like on his own little spectrum, just saying, going in He's like some days going into the restaurants that you would be working, it's like man, it's like we're at a pirate ship. We were working at a pirate ship and you're working with pirates. People were just drunk all the time. And like you said, it's not the healthiest environment sometimes. And there's crazy shit going on.

[01:19:04] So I would actually love for you to kind of like expand on that. I want to know a little bit more about that kitchen culture, maybe that toxic side of things that can be fixed. And obviously it seems like that's something that you're doing right now where you're bringing this growth mindset and some of this more positivity into that industry.

[01:19:22] But I want to hear a little bit more about that. Like if you're comfortable talking about, I want to know a little bit more about that kitchen culture.

[01:19:28] Doug: Yeah, well, first of all, Matty Matheson and I used to work next to each other in a, in Kensington market in Toronto. so I've known Maddie a long time. I'm proud of, of how he's grown and developed. Um, but yeah, he and I came up in the same sort of time and it's just one where he, I remember the first job I ever worked at, we would just throw around derogatory terms.

[01:19:50] Like it was nothing. So here I am 15, 16 years old already talking like that in high school. Um, and then I would go to work and it would be the same thing. And, even the derogatory terms, but like the, the sexual innuendos and the, you know, the slapping of, of butts and like the casual sex that just happens in dry storage and, and just the drugs, there's just, it's, you know, it's just, it has been an industry that needed an overhaul and a change for so long.

[01:20:21] it's just one where it's just commonplace and it's passed down from generation to generation and you know, so it's changing now. Um, I like how Matty said pirates. I mean, it, it's you go in here, you're pirates. That's just exactly what we're going to cook the food and we're going to get drunk after work. Um, you know, that's literally what you do. I remember working for Junk Restaurant in, oh gosh, 2000. I think it was.

[01:20:48] And you finish your shift, you work 10 hours, your adrenaline is high. And what do you do after your shift while your adrenaline crashes, your body's looking for that. You always get a free drink after service. And one obviously turns into more, usually. And, um, you know, and it just goes from there. And before you know it it's four in the morning and you're going home piss drunk, and you gotta be back at work for noon the next day. And you, you know, and it's just, it's this vicious cycle that, that just keeps going and going and it just, it has to change.

[01:21:19] I'm talking to some governing bodies right now. Uh, as you said, I took a bit of time after, uh, the online attacks happened to me, just to do that deep soul searching and that thinking and that like regenerating and sort of like, okay, well, you know, what happened and why did it happen? And who said, what? And why did, where was I when that happened?

[01:21:39] And so I am thinking about how to make change and, you know, I've committed to any kitchens that I, uh, I am directly in charge of down the road, uh, for, for full gender sensitivity training and inclusivity training. I think that's important because the world is changing.

[01:21:56] The world has changed and we all need to understand what everyone else needs from it. Right. We're all not the same. And we need to understand that, um, So for sure that, and I would just love to see more, uh, talk for, you know, substance and mental health.

[01:22:13] Like, I don't know about you, but as a, as a man, it's it, you know, I wasn't, I personally wasn't taught that crying is okay. And my showing emotion is okay and taking care of mental health is okay. And I think that all of these things have to be taught and they need to be taught soon, you know?

[01:22:31] Um, I think COVID has really changed so many places in people and I think more and more people did go with it and did sort of understand, okay, well, why am I chasing the new phone, the new phone I'm going to make me happy? No, it's not.

[01:22:45] You know, so bringing it back to the restaurant industry, you know, more mental health awareness, um, Exercise is vital. I think I wish more people would just take the time. No, I don't think, I think there's very few people that want to get up and exercise. I haven't going to exercise because the beginning of exercise sucks, you know, the first five minutes sucks. Then you get into that rhythm and then after boom and you know.

[01:23:08] So exercise mental health and it's okay to fuck up. I think we have to say that we have to be okay with it's okay to fuck up as long as you learn from it and you pick up and you grow. Um, and yeah, I mean the restaurant industry, my friend, I would love to change so much about it, and, and I do see it changing. It's it's a slow process.

[01:23:32] I will say that I spent some time working in Australia years ago, and I saw a bit of what happens there and it's already changed there. It's a phenomenal change. The cooks are making enough money. The servers are making enough money. There's no tipping allowed. You pay more to go out, but it's more of an experience.

[01:23:49] You're getting professionals. You're getting, you're not getting transients who are just there to make their short cash and then leave. Um, so I don't know. I would love to see more change about the restaurant industry. I think it's happening.

[01:24:01] And, as the next generation comes in, you know, it's good in a way, a lot of people call them millennials, uh, soft, or, you know, they don't know how to work, but I think in a way they're doing the right thing, because they're saying, no, we don't want to be taken advantage of anymore. Or we don't want to work 18 hours and get paid 80 bucks. You can call it what you want to call it, but that's just slave labor. Right.

[01:24:22] So, yeah, I mean, I think that it's been changed as we speak. I know I do. And. Um, I think the cost of food of what you go to a restaurant needs to go up, you know, instead of paying 18 bucks for a burger. I think we need to get, we should be used to pay 27, but then we know that the cooks that are making the food and the servers, making the food are getting enough money to live. And I, I think that's going to help change the culture too. There's there's a lot that has to change, but yeah, I love what Matty said about the pirates. It's absolutely

[01:24:51] true.

[01:24:53] Josh: I think that was hilarious, but I think you're so right. And sort of this last part of this podcast, I kind of want to talk about that sort of like maybe what you're thinking about, the changes in the restaurant industry, what maybe needs to change, some things that you might be seeing, like your, you talked about what's happening in, um, in Australia.

[01:25:11] But I totally agree now that it's like post COVID. So during COVID like the restaurant industry actually just got fucked because anytime from what, from my perspective, like anytime restaurant was actually doing well and they're making money, it was through these third-party delivery apps that were completely robbing them.

[01:25:28] Like they're getting 30% of sales for what? Just because you connected, the end user, the customer with them. Okay. Whatever. So now, now that starting to change, I'm working with a Square where now you can order directly from a restaurant rather than the Uber apps, or a DoorDash app, you're ordering directly from their website and then you can connect it in with door dash.

[01:25:48] So now you can use the DoorDash drivers, but instead of paying 30%, you pay a flat fee, which is so much better. Because 30%, what blew my mind was last year, I looked at this spreadsheet that showed this business, think it was. And it just showed their spreadsheet over four months. And it just showed that as they got more volume on door dash, they were losing money.

[01:26:07] And by the time they did a huge volume on door dash, they were in the red. So they're literally losing money as they're making more food. And this is a vicious cycle as well. And now, now we're going back to the restaurant. So now in Toronto we have patios open, I think just last week You could finally sit inside. And I totally agree.

[01:26:24] Now I think with everything post COVID it's made everyone realize the true value of like flesh and bone and like real life of like, okay, I don't actually want to live life on the internet, really. It's not that fun being at home. And I agree. I think things should cost a little bit more, right. You're going to a restaurant for an experience. You know, when you're ordering an whatever, I think maybe that's where the ghost kitchens will do really well.

[01:26:48] And I want to kind of hear your thoughts about that, cause that's sort of like the industries that I'm starting to see kind of really come up, you know, post COVID. You have almost like ghost kitchens where they're going to specialize in delivery and it's just the food, whatever, fast food you're going to get it delivered to you. And then there's like these higher end restaurant experiences.

[01:27:06] And I want to hear from your perspective now, what do you think that's going to look like post COVID now, what do you think that restaurant experience is going to be like? How should it be? And if you were to even open a restaurant like a brand new restaurant in 2021, or maybe even 2022,, what would you be thinking about now? How is this industry going to be changed? And how is that going to evolve in the next couple of years?

[01:27:29] Doug: part of the problem with the restaurant industry in north America, uh, because it is different in other parts of the world, right. I've experienced it first hand. Is, there's not enough pay. and COVID has really shown that.

[01:27:42] And there's a huge, at the time of recording this with you in July of 2021, there's a huge labor shortage. There is a huge labor shortage of cooks because they don't want to work for nothing and they don't want to work long hours for nothing. And I respect that right. As I said, the millennials kind of how it right. Everyone's everyone shits on them, but I think they have it, right, because you need to have a work-life balance.

[01:28:06] You know, I'm proof pudding of that. uh, here in Toronto as of July 2021, again, we've really only been open for about a month or so. Um, but prices have gone up already.

[01:28:15] I think what you're going to see is higher prices and better quality staff. Cause those that are there are going to want to be there. They're going to want to stay. And in order to attract better quality staff, you're going to have to pay them more money. Right? COVID has taught them a lot that, you know, rest is a good thing. And you know, and this whole idea of burnout culture and, you know, hustle culture is it's, it's bullshit. It's absolute bullshit.

[01:28:43] I can tell you that when I'm exercise, rested, meditated connected with my family, told myself I love myself. I might only have the time to, for three or four hours of work, but that three or four hours of work, the amount of things I can get done in a more precise way is, is so much better than if I had put 14 hours of distracted time in. And I think that's where we're going to see with the world.

[01:29:09] COVID taught us about resting. And then if we're rested, we can still put the work in. And I think that's, what's going to happen with the restaurant industry. So, you know, I'm excited to see where it goes.

[01:29:20] I would love to see the whole idea of tipping go out the door. I think it's nonsense. and there just needs to be a living wage put in place for everyone that works there. And this is what they do in Australia. And it works so well. You know, everyone in the front of house and back of house was averaging $30 to $35 Canadian an hour. Yes. And it worked, oh, you know, a green bowl was $26, but I'm happy to pay that $26 because I know, and it tasted better.

[01:29:46] Every time I went out to eat there, the food tasted better. It wasn't thrown together in a haste by someone who's not present who doesn't care, cause they're only there for a paycheck. does that answer your question about restaurants?

[01:29:57] Josh: Yeah. So it seems like what we need to do is change this from being, again, like your 15 year old is her first job getting paid nothing, because it's just your high school job. And like, who knows what you're using that money for? to like, this is like your vocation. This is like a career that you can actually go and do that anybody can do if they put the time and the, they put the love into it, that this can actually be a high paying career.

[01:30:23] Not just something like, oh, they just work at a restaurant. Part-time it's like, this is something, from all levels that it needs to be something that they can actually pursue and make a huge living on. And I think that is a hundred percent true.

[01:30:35] So what are your, what are your opinions on these sort of ghost kitchen models then? Like commoditizing food, like let's not even talk about like the McDonald's and you know, that fast food industry, but now there's this, in-between almost.

[01:30:48] There's these people who are like, this is like their full job. And they're a lot of the times it is from what we're seeing a family owned or an entrepreneur has this amazing menu, and they, you know, instead of like spending so much money and trying to figure out all the intricacies of starting up a kitchen and getting all the licenses, they can work with a ghost kitchen.

[01:31:07] There's a bunch in the U S I'd love to see more in Canada and now they can go and pursue their dream. They can go and take these amazing creations that they have, and they can then, you know, sell it to people, usually online right now. It's not like there's an experience where they're coming to sit down.

[01:31:24] People can experience this food at home and they're, they're getting it mainly delivered or picked up. So it's almost like this in-between, it's a really interesting in-between model that I've been seeing growing. Do you have any thoughts on that or do you have any experience with that model?

[01:31:37] Doug: no, I don't have personal hands-on experience. I am always doing my research and reading. I am a student of LinkedIn and I follow everything that's going on in the food industry, across the world.

[01:31:48] Um, again, I mean, I can take it back to Australia. In Australia, you sat and you had an experience, you had great service, you had people who cared attention to detail, everything tasted and looked better. but you paid for that. It's like going to the movies now, it's, you know, I took my son to see Space Jam Two last week. It was like 75 bucks I left, but it's an X you pay for this experience. Right. And restaurants, in my opinion, a sit down restaurant should be the same.

[01:32:16] You're going out. You're you're, you know, sometimes you're dressing up, you're getting a cocktail you're with your friends or your family or your partner. You know, and sometimes you just want nachos. And sometimes you just, you're lazy, it's been a long day. You're tired. You don't want to go up to a restaurant.

[01:32:32] And that's where I think ghost kitchens are phenomenal. There is so many times where I look at my wife, Candice, and be like, listen, I don't want to cook tonight. Can we just get veggie burgers and fries? And I don't want to spend more than 15 bucks, 16 bucks, you know? Um, so I'm not paying for that experience. I'm not paying for that quote entertainment. I just want food and I want it fast.

[01:32:51] And I think that's where ghost kitchens make a ton of sense. you know, these delivery partners, uh, first of all, I love Square. I use square for my first business. Um, I ran all my revenue through it. It was my reporting system. And I, I did even did some stuff with them, some, um, backend, uh, survey stuff. And they came to me with prototypes before they were even out. So I love square. I didn't know they were doing that with the third party apps. I think that's really cool. but this whole idea of it now is not going on.

[01:33:21] You know, we touched on something earlier. I think it was pertaining to mindfulness and that's that the whole, uh, experience of human, uh, we love our routines and now that we can, you know, we have our phones and we can go on our phones and just go on door dash or whatever, and it's not going anywhere.

[01:33:38] So I think it's great. You can have your entertainment, and go and spend a hundred bucks or 75 or 150 or 300, $500 and be entertained by a world-class chef and great servers who know their wines. You can also order a greasy veggie burger and fries, and a milkshake right to your coach. And you have in 20 minutes, right. For, for 15, 20 bucks. So I think that there's definitely room for both. and what I would love to see is restaurants not trying to be, uh, not trying. Essentially, right.

[01:34:11] If you're going to charge. I'm willing to come out and pay for quality, but you have, you need to deliver the quality, and you know, like you said, there is a lot of intricacies, a restaurant is a beast. It's a very difficult business to run. And I think that you need to, um, you need to know a lot and if you're not willing to be in at 110% everyday of your life, maybe the ghost kitchens for you, right.

[01:34:36] Josh: Interesting. So for the people that do want to maybe run a restaurant or they have, you know, plans or dreams of like, hey, maybe like, you know, I'm an entrepreneur, I want to start a restaurant. Like, what would that advice be to them?

[01:34:49] Doug: Talk to someone who's done it before. be very good at understanding numbers, uh, know spreadsheets. Um, and, and don't jumpin too much.. Don't leave with your ego. Don't be like, oh, I'm going to have the best restaurant in town. And don't do it to walk around with a glass of champagne and toast your friends.

[01:35:12] A restaurant is a beast and it never ends. Customers email at five in the morning, five at night. Customers have complaints at five in the morning and customers have complaints at five at night. You need to be on all the time. It needs to be in your blood. You need to be a hospitality person who is willing to put everything into it. And I would say if, if you don't resonate with any of that, do not open a restaurant. It is not for you.

[01:35:39] For me, I love it. I love the idea of serving customers. I love making them happy. I am in this to make people happy. and, uh, so for me, I know I'm a lifer that I'm never going to go anywhere with it, but, uh, it's tough because I see a lot of people who make money. And they think they're going to have a huge return on investment for a restaurant. And within a year or two, they've lost a couple hundred thousand dollars or more, you know. And once you're in a hole in a restaurant it's really tough to get out. It's really tough to get out.

[01:36:12] Josh: Hmm. That's interesting. Well, honestly, this, I mean, I'm sure we can keep going on. I'm sure you have so many more pieces of advice, because like we said, it's a beast, there's so many intricacies when trying to start something like this. Like even if you're just doing the ghost kitchen model and you're trying to figure out, you know, connecting up with a ghost kitchen or something, or trying to figure out your menu and your branding, there's so much that goes into it.

[01:36:36] So maybe this is a good time to sort of like wrap things up, but also plug like you're kind of, um, an expert in, in all of this. So I'm going to put your link to your website and your services page in the footnotes of this podcast. Cause you you're a consultant with basically everything. So maybe, you can kind of explain some of the services that you do, some of like your, your strong suits when it comes to this. Cause I know that you're just a wealth of knowledge when it comes to, uh, anything in the food business.

[01:37:04] Doug: Well, I mean, what I love to do the most and where I gained the most business in what I do, is I work with, people, uh, generally speaking, more than not mainstream businesses who would like to put a vegan or a plant-based menu into their existing food service outlet. So I've worked with hotels and restaurants and, and everything in between. so I do a lot of that.

[01:37:25] But I also, I mean, I love doing menus. It is where my talents are my strongest. Uh, I am fantastic at understanding the business of a kitchen of food costs, uh, systems, protocol, basically what an executive chef does. and because I've been doing plant-based for so long, I have this wealth of knowledge of just how to manipulate shapes and textures and flavors and ingredients.

[01:37:46] And so I do everything from supply chain to food costing, recipe development, food photography, food styling, I can help advise on social media and so many different things. Um, but really that's what I like to do the most. Whether or not, I own another restaurant down the road. I'm not sure. Um, if I do, it would probably be with a, uh, a team of individuals rather than just being me, trying to do everything again. Um, I did that once. I'm not so into it again.

[01:38:14] but yeah, I love the consulting thing. You know, entrepreneurship is amazing because I really believe life is about experience. And I look back in the last 10 years and I would never trade any of those experiences for anything. And I love going around and doing what I do, whether it's the Windsor arms hotel here in Toronto or in Stockholm, Sweden, or in Germany or Australia or whatever.

[01:38:35] I love working with Neon Tiger. Neon tiger is a restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina, that they have my menu. And, um, I work with them. In the Southern United States in particular, there is such a demand for plant-based and there's not enough people doing it yet. So I love being one of the first to market in an area, in a part of the world. So, um, I think it's fantastic.

[01:38:57] And, you know, I'm that kind of guy that just lets things come to them unless things happen naturally. I try not to push anything. So my friend, maybe we'll have another talk in a year or so. And I'll tell you I did X, Y, and Z. I'm not sure. Maybe I'll just be a dad for the next year. I'm still not sure either.

[01:39:12] So I shouldn't say just a dad either being a dad is, is for me, has been the most important thing in the, in the world. And I love my son more than anything. So, um, yeah, I don't know.

[01:39:24] Josh: Uh, Doug. That's awesome, man. Well, I'm super excited for you and like, obviously it's like a whole new chapter for you and I really appreciate you just being, you know, so good with your time here and just being so generous with your time here with me and speaking about all these different things and, you know, entertaining my crazy questions.

[01:39:42] And I really appreciate just all of your wisdom and knowledge from like all these years that you have and just your expertise. So I think this is a great way to kind of end off, but I want to end off with just one last question. I love asking people, so obviously it's pretty open-ended for you.

[01:39:56] So I just want to know what you're most excited about. Maybe in your life and business in the restaurant, world and food world. What are you most looking forward to?

[01:40:06] Doug: My friend, that's a fantastic question. And, you know, I spent so many years thinking that happiness came from something. A status or a title, or signing an autograph or making $20,000. Or winning awards. And, and to be honest, I just, I like being happy, just being happy and enjoying life and, you know, just taking this, rolling with the punches.

[01:40:34] So my, my answer might not be super exciting, but honestly, it's, the fact that I wake up every day now and I have that ability to be happy and to work on myself and to, to work on those, to work around those around me and just have a family and a life. I know, just being happy.

[01:40:51] Josh: That's awesome. And I think that's just what everyone should be striving for anyway. I love that super candid. And it's, that's the best. I think that you've reached the end. You know, you can leap frog all the other shit because what you want at the end of the day is exactly that. So I'm so glad that you've, you started to find that and you're living through that. So I'm, I'm really happy for you, man.

[01:41:11] And I guess before we get going, uh, where can people find you online? Where can they connect with you and learn a little bit more about you? Where can they grab your books and learn about more of your creations? Where can they go to?

[01:41:22] Doug: Yeah. My website has dougmcnish.com. Um, I'm working on revamping it a little bit right now in the fall. So when this comes out, around when this comes out, we're going to have a little bit of a new website.

[01:41:33] You can follow me on social media. Um, I, you know, I posted, you might see a week go by without me posting. I try not to force it anymore. If I feel inspired, I feel inspired if I don't, I don't.

[01:41:44] Um, but yeah, social media, my website and my books are available on Amazon, uh, in the United States at Barnes and Noble, in Canada at Chapters, indigo, uh, and in Europe and Australia, uh, from Amazon. and, uh, yeah, just keep looking out for more. And, uh, I look forward to talking to you again, my friend, this was really fun.

[01:42:05] Josh: Absolutely. I'm sure we will. I can't wait to do a part two to see what's next. I'm sure there's a lot of interesting and really fun things coming up. So this is Awesome. Doug, Thank you so much for coming on Mind Meld, man. And, uh, yeah, we'll have to do this again.

[01:42:18] Doug: Awesome. Thank you very much, Josh.

Thanks for coming this far! if you're reading this, it is no accident. The universe brought you to this corner of the internet for a reason, and you're on the right track. I already know that you're an amazing person and I can't wait to connect with you!

— Josh

Episode Transcript

Josh Gonsalves
Mind Meld Podcast Host

Hi, I'm Josh Gonsalves, the host and producer of Mind Meld. I'm also a Canadian Academy Award-nominated director and Co-founder of Contraverse, an immersive media company. I'm a multi-media experience designer living and working in Toronto, operating at the intersection of design and exponential technologies to develop solutions that change the world for the better.

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