The Princess & The Wizard Of Ads: Roy & Pennie Williams of Williams Marketing in Austin, TX, Part 1
We’re off to see the Wizard in the Austin, Texas hill country. Roy Williams and Pennie Williams of Williams Marketing are an unusual, unique and profitable pair. This marketing agency husband & wife team have a story that can teach one a lot about marketing. Though really, you’d learn it from Roy. He’s the front man, and is known as The Wizard of Ads. Pennie’s the woman behind the curtain, and she likes it that way. We can’t believe we even got a microphone in front of her. But where would he be without her? She’s instrumental in their success--from the salad days of answering phones in their laundry-room office, to now handling their real estate, to running their world-famous non-profit’s wedding chapel division. And one of Honey’s favorite things ever was said in this interview: It’s about what’s more important in a relationship than being right. One of Blaine’s favorite copywriters, Roy’s copy has made business owners astonishingly wealthy. Honey, a veteran of big-agency advertising, finds Roy's strategy spot-on. Wizard Academy, their 501(c)(3), is a school for out-of-the-box marketing and thinking. It attracts all kinds of people, from business owners and radio pros to Nobel and Pulitzer prizewinners. The agency business has Wizard of Ads partners as far away as Australia. Roy has written best-selling advertising books. And without the Wizard’s Princess Pennie, the successes here might have been different—and Wizard Academy may not have become a world-famous wedding destination. What do weddings have to do with it all? You’ll have to listen…
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Blaine: 00:00 What exactly are you reading?
Honey: 00:03 I'm reading a really crummy book. But I have to finish. I'm 75% in.
Blaine: 00:08 Is this the book I gave you?
Honey: 00:10 It is the book you gave me.
Blaine: 00:11 I'm really sorry I gave you that.
Honey: 00:13 I'm sorry you gave it to me, too, but ...
Blaine: 00:15 The good news is I'll be reading it, too. Book club of two continues.
Honey: 00:20 Our book club of two.
Blaine: 00:23 Welcome to CoupleCo, working with your spouse for fun and profit. I'm Blaine Parker.
Honey: 00:26 Which makes me Honey Parker.
Blaine: 00:28 And as a couple in business together, we are coming to you from the Couple Coach, our compact Trans American land yacht.
Honey: 00:33 We are navigating the nation in search of stand-out couples in business together.
Blaine: 00:37 And we are bringing them to you so you can hear their inspiring stories of crushing it in business without crushing each other.
Honey: 00:43 And if you heard us last time, we were not actually coming from said Couple Coach, but from the great state of Utah and the great state of New Jersey, respectively.
Blaine: 00:52 Yes. I was in one place, not the other.
Honey: 00:55 And I was in the other.
Blaine: 00:56 Yes. I'm so sorry.
Honey: 00:58 Well.
Blaine: 01:00 Well, we fixed that and as evidenced by the traffic you may be hearing behind us recording, we are coming to you from the Lone Star State.
Honey: 01:08 Because traffic means Texas.
Blaine: 01:10 Yes, the only place you get traffic is in Texas.
Honey: 01:13 Well today-
Blaine: 01:14 ... in an RV park. Near the road.
Honey: 01:18 Well today-
Blaine: 01:20 Yeah, okay.
Honey: 01:21 Today we're bringing you an exceptional couple.
Blaine: 01:25 This is unlike any interview you have ever heard.
Honey: 01:27 If you love cooking and food and the Food Network, this is a deep dive into cuisine.
Blaine: 01:34 And if you're intrigued by couple dynamics and life long romance, this could also be the show for you.
Oh, and you know what?
Honey: 01:40 This show is brought to you by a couple owned business.
Blaine: 01:44 That's right. Smokin' Mary's Smoked Bloody Mary mix.
Honey: 01:46 And if you've heard this show before, you may have heard that Smokin' Mary is made in small batches with no reconstituted tomato juice. They truly only use very fresh, very whole tomatoes.
Blaine: 02:03 Can you have degrees of wholeness?
Honey: 02:03 Perhaps.
Blaine: 02:03 Hmm. We'll have to save that for another time when we touch on semantics.
Honey: 02:06 Yes.
Blaine: 02:06 Smokin' Mary's Smoked Bloody Mary mix. Hey, nice tomatoes. Online at smokinmary.com.
Honey: 02:12 And speaking of dot coms, if you want to find out more about CoupleCo and our past interviews, we are online at coupleco.com.
Blaine: 02:21 Now, today. We are venturing to Kanab, Utah. We are talking to Shon and Elizabeth Foster of Sego, a small plate restaurant.
Honey: 02:30 And I know that there are many very good restaurants across this great land of ours. This happens to be a great restaurant.
Blaine: 02:38 It's phenomenal. We actually went to the restaurant on our own the night before the interview and did not tell them that we were there.
Honey: 02:44 No, we just came and ate and lost our minds. It was surprising how good this was.
Blaine: 02:52 Yes, it's a small plate restaurant. We ordered five plates. He had four glasses of wine. The bill was incredibly reasonable and really one of the best meals I have ... almost anywhere.
Honey: 03:01 Yeah, the price was a bonus. The food, just wonderful.
Blaine: 03:05 Anyway, they run Sego out of a boutique hotel in a town that has been called Little Hollywood because of all the movies that have been shot there. Now the restaurant is unique and they are doing something right because they've been approached about replicating the concept in other hotels around Utah.
Honey: 03:21 Shon and Elizabeth are also unique. This episode's going to include football, punk rock, many babies, and divorce.
Blaine: 03:29 Yes there's even a divorce. Something new for a CoupleCo interview. These two have an unusual work dynamic and there are times when you might think that Shon could be steam rolling Elizabeth because he's a force. But you're going to find out that in her own, much quieter way, Elizabeth is a force as well.
Honey: 03:43 Oh yeah. I mean I was sitting across from her in this interview and you could just feel it.
Blaine: 03:48 You could feel the force.
Honey: 03:49 You could. Just what was going on, in her eyes.
Blaine: 03:54 No resemblance to Darth Vader.
Honey: 03:55 No, no, no.
Blaine: 03:56 Oh and there's one thing you need to know.
Honey: 03:58 They're going to be mentioning a resort called Amangiri.
Blaine: 04:00 This is a high end luxury resort in Utah that is known for catering to the 1%. It is fancy and it is for billionaires.
Honey: 04:09 And it's where Elizabeth came to do something unspeakable to a celebrity chef.
Blaine: 04:13 Yes, she did. And she will be speaking about it to us.
Honey: 04:16 One of the things I love about this interview is they are very willing to talk about the unspeakable things. It's charming. It's endearing. It makes them stronger and it just really pulled us to them.
Blaine: 04:31 Yes, they are willing to speak about the unspeakable things and they're speaking about it to us and to you. Right here in part one of our conversation with Shon and Elizabeth Foster of Sego restaurant in Kanab, Utah.
We are in ... I was going to say beautiful and possibly arid ... Is it arid here?
Shon: 04:53 It's a high desert for sure.
Blaine: 04:54 Okay we're in beautiful high desert Kanab, Utah, in a really incredible restaurant called Sego and we are with Chef Shon and the amazing Elizabeth Foster. The two of them have been ... Well, I'm not going to say how long they've been in business together because this is a heck of a story and I think we need to start by (a) saying hi.
Elizabeth: 05:18 Hello.
Blaine: 05:19 Thanks for coming. And more importantly, thanks for letting us come.
Shon: 05:23 Absolutely.
Blaine: 05:23 If you hear activity in the background it's because we actually are sitting in the restaurant and they are prepping for today's service, but these two were referred by some friends of ours. And Honey and I came and ate dinner in the restaurant last night and O.M.G. Wow.
Honey: 05:37 At first I was excited just because I didn't have to leave the hotel to go to the restaurant, because we were driving a long time. And then the food started showing up and if we had just stopped with the grilled Caesar with the egg on it, I would have gone to bed happy. But we kept going.
Blaine: 05:52 Yes the duck lo mein was not a slouch either.
Honey: 05:54 Holy cow.
Elizabeth: 05:54 The duck lo mein is pretty tasty.
Blaine: 05:56 It is.
Honey: 05:56 Oh my ...
Blaine: 05:57 Let's start with the single most important question of every interview we do. How did you two meet?
Shon: 06:04 I'll have to refer this to Elizabeth. I know when I officially met her. It was in our orchestra class, but she'll have to tell when she first met me or noticed me.
Blaine: 06:14 Orchestra?
Elizabeth: 06:16 The first time that I met Shon, was actually in the 6th grade and it was halfway through the day and he was a new student coming to Kanab, so he just moved to Kanab. And I was walking up the stairs from the computer lab in the old Kanab Middle School annex building and I came up the stairs and here's Shon walking by.
I can even tell you what I was wearing.
Honey: 06:37 What were you wearing?
Blaine: 06:37 Okay.
Elizabeth: 06:38 I was wearing white shorts, a white t-shirt with a gold paisley vest. My hair was up in a half pony tail and I had gold hoop earrings and white Keds shoes.
Shon: 06:48 She obviously ...
Blaine: 06:49 I'm not going to say how old you are, but you are definitely not 12 anymore.
Shon: 06:51 She obviously has a great memory, which has worked in and against me.
Blaine: 06:51 Yeah.
Elizabeth: 06:57 When I saw him, I actually went home that night and wrote in my journal that I was going to marry this boy that I met and I didn't even know his name at that time.
Blaine: 07:05 That's incredible.
Honey: 07:06 What was he wearing?
Elizabeth: 07:07 I don't remember what he was wearing but I can remember what I was wearing.
Shon: 07:10 Always something terrible. I was a skater kid from Phoenix, Arizona, and my parents had moved me to this tiny town in Utah and I thought ... I was pretty convinced that they had ruined my life. But ...
Honey: 07:26 You're still here, by the way, so ...
Shon: 07:28 I've left many times. But most people say it, if you've lived here and you've left, coming back ... Every time you come into town it just feels like home.
Elizabeth: 07:38 Feels like home.
Shon: 07:39 Even for transplants. It just feels like home. Now there are certain aspects of a small town that make it difficult to live here. One, income. How do you provide for yourself and what is it that you're going to do to make money and are you willing to live a different lifestyle because you can't just go out dancing if you want to on a night. And you only have one movie a week. So if you can get through some of those things, then you can also appreciate the fact that we have every star in the night sky that shows up and performs every night. We also have clean air. We also have water you can drink out of the tap. We have endless canyons to explore, mountain tops to see and I'm, of course, a mountain climber. Not literally, but at least figuratively. I love hiking and getting out but I love to see what's at the top so it really has given me the stage to perform.
So living in L.A., living in Phoenix, going to school, being other places, again it ... Always wanted to get back here.
Blaine: 08:41 Living in a place like L.A., having done it for about 20 years, definitely makes you appreciate a place like this all the more, I think.
Shon: 08:48 Yeah. L.A. was probably one of the nicest places I've ever left.
Elizabeth: 08:53 Well, not necessarily L.A., but the beaches, like Redondo Beach.
Shon: 08:55 We were down near Redondo and Hermosa, which is almost like-
Blaine: 08:55 Redondo, back in the day, wow.
Shon: 09:00 Yeah, it was almost like a small town. We were still doing spaghetti dinners with the community and was really connected, but it was a crossroads.
I loved what I did. I worked hard enough to be good at it. But my parents were around for my childhood and now I believe that that was for a good reason. At the time, you know, you always wonder, but you're a kid. So I felt like my kids needed that. Or I wanted to make sure I was around enough to be able to give them that opportunity so they weren't learning how to be a human being from TV or what, now we have social media or internet. So yeah, that's when we left-
Blaine: 09:43 You were both living in L.A.?
Elizabeth: 09:45 No, I lived here and he lived in L.A.
Blaine: 09:49 Wow.
Honey: 09:49 So let's back up a little bit.
Blaine: 09:50 Yeah, I guess go back.
Honey: 09:53 You met in the sixth grade and I know that you had said you guys had worked your first jobs together.
Elizabeth: 09:58 Mcdonalds came to Kanab our freshman year, or sophomore year?
Shon: 10:03 Soph-
Elizabeth: 10:05 It was the summer-
Shon: 10:06 Sophomore summer before our junior year.
Elizabeth: 10:06 No.
Blaine: 10:08 You became gourmets in high school.
Elizabeth: 10:09 Yeah. So we both worked at Mcdonalds.
Shon: 10:12 We were ... What did they call us?
Elizabeth: 10:14 We were shift managers or crew managers.
Shon: 10:18 Yeah, crew chiefs.
Elizabeth: 10:18 Crew chiefs.
Shon: 10:19 Crew chiefs.
Elizabeth: 10:19 Yeah that's what it was called, crew chief.
Blaine: 10:19 Wow.
Shon: 10:21 Yeah, we were crew chiefs because we trained, beforehand.
Honey: 10:23 Wow, impressive.
Blaine: 10:25 [inaudible 00:10:25]
Honey: 10:25 And were you dating at the time or were you friends?
Elizabeth: 10:30 Well we had classes together and I liked poetry and Shon would always share these poems with me and I was like, "Wow, that's pretty incredible" and I thought he liked some other girl so I was like, "Well, thanks for sharing." Little did I know, those poems were for me.
Shon: 10:45 Yeah, that was sophomore year.
Elizabeth: 10:47 That was our sophomore year, yeah.
Blaine: 10:47 There was a whole Cyrano thing going on.
Shon: 10:51 Yeah. And she was late every day for our American History class, but she sat in front of me. So yeah, that's when we started getting to know each other.
Elizabeth: 10:51 Bubblegum.
Shon: 11:02 Yeah she always had candy. She still always has candy.
Elizabeth: 11:04 And cherry Jolly Ranchers. I always had my little bag full of treats.
Shon: 11:08 She just always conveniently had those after I asked for them the first time.
Blaine: 11:12 Oh the good old days.
Shon: 11:14 Yeah sophomore year.
Elizabeth: 11:15 Tell-
Shon: 11:16 And during that time was when we started dating and handing out. And I would say it was like hanging out more than dating.
Elizabeth: 11:22 Yeah.
Shon: 11:23 We hung out going snow boarding, going to concerts. Luckily, she pretended well enough that she liked the kind of music I liked until I looked through her tape box, back when cassette tapes were still a thing. And found Tupac and stuff like that.
Elizabeth: 11:37 I was a hip hop girl.
Shon: 11:38 It's like, "I don't know if this is going to work out." I was pretty staunch punk rock.
Honey: 11:44 So how old married? How old were you-
Elizabeth: 11:46 We got married when we were ... right before we turned 18.
Blaine: 11:50 Right before you turned 18.
Elizabeth: 11:50 Yes.
Shon: 11:51 Yeah, we had decided to be intimate and so we had a kid coming. And so we took the time to ... Which to our parents' dismay, her parents' dismay, her dad, for sure, thought I was a bad guy. But I said I'm not just going to marry you-
Blaine: 12:10 You look like a bad guy.
Shon: 12:12 Back then I did. Back then I did for sure. But I said, you know-
Blaine: 12:17 He looks impish, by the way.
Elizabeth: 12:19 Impish.
Shon: 12:20 I'm not going to just get married because that's what we're supposed to do. We need to make this a real decision. We're in a situation where we have responsibilities we have to take care of and I was never going to shirk the responsibility, but are we getting married when we're 17 and are we going to make the commitment to do this for the rest of our lives? And not just for me, for her as well. We were enlightened enough smart enough to know that there were options. We talked about adoption. That was definitely not something that we wanted to pursue. We actually spoke to somebody about it and it scared us half to death.
Elizabeth: 12:53 For two months we talked to somebody.
Blaine: 12:54 You were some seriously courageous 17 year olds.
Elizabeth: 12:57 It was really hard.
Shon: 12:59 Yeah, I think back now and I think about my kids ... I mean I had a full ride scholarship to multiple universities for football. I mean, there was a lot.
Elizabeth: 13:08 Yeah before Aaron. That's our oldest son. He's [inaudible 00:13:12]
Shon: 13:12 Yeah, and I knew getting married and having a kid would push me into a JC realm until they saw that I was going to continue with school and football and then move back up, which was good because playing at college football level, it was great but it quickly taught me after the season we got a national championship anyway. It was great stuff, but it pushed me, luckily, really quick to what I really wanted to do, which was music. And I played music since I was little.
Elizabeth: 13:36 Do I really want to do football and-
Shon: 13:38 Yeah, and do I really want to do school in this way? We made the decision. We got married. Had a traditional marriage and then Aaron showed up. Best decision I ever made.
Blaine: 13:49 You didn't start out by working together, but you did start out by cooperating a lot, I mean sincerely.
Elizabeth: 13:55 I guess we kind of worked together because when he did the punk rock stuff, I was the behind the scenes person-
Blaine: 14:01 Oh really.
Elizabeth: 14:01 ... that did ... Because he actually started-
Shon: 14:03 As soon as I started helping bands that I had been around or that I had worked with previously, before going to school ... So I started reaching out and doing band management, doing production recording.
Blaine: 14:13 What were you, your early 20s now, late teens?
Shon: 14:17 I would have been 19, 20.
Elizabeth: 14:21 Yeah that was in 2000, so yeah.
Shon: 14:22 I was young but nobody would have known it because I had been answering phones for my mom's real estate agency when I was eight years old. I knew-
Elizabeth: 14:22 Phone etiquette.
Shon: 14:30 ... how to answer phones, I knew how to send emails-
Blaine: 14:32 Eight years old.
Shon: 14:34 I knew how to communicate with adults. I spent most of my time with adults. So the world wasn't scary, it was just something to be figured out and done. So I was working on building an empire.
Because my dad was an audio engineer but he always had his side projects and was very entrepreneurial and my mom was a real estate agent, which is like being self-employed. So it always instilled that.
I remember listening to Tony Robbins-
Elizabeth: 15:03 Yes.
Shon: 15:03 ... when I was in high school. Hated his voice.
Elizabeth: 15:07 His mom, little did you know when Shon-
Blaine: 15:10 Leave it to an engineer.
Elizabeth: 15:11 ... I just have to tell you. If you want to know the full story of Shon ... How old were you? Bobby Bell. He won a modeling scholarship. He was a model for J.C. Penney.
Shon: 15:22 When I was a little kid.
Honey: 15:22 You run the gamut. Elizabeth, were your parents entrepreneurial?
Elizabeth: 15:25 No, my parents were, you go to work the 9 to 5 kind of people.
Shon: 15:29 And she hated me because-
Elizabeth: 15:31 Because I just wanted a-
Shon: 15:31 She was like would you just get a real job? And would you just go to work and have insurance so we can buy things and be normal?
Elizabeth: 15:43 But that was what I was used to.
Honey: 15:44 Yeah.
Blaine: 15:45 Okay, so you started cooperating really early and you started working together not long after that. But when would you say you obviously were in business together?
Elizabeth: 15:56 He started ... His record label was called Chad Grain Records and I was the one that did all the office work and paperwork and getting CD production and t-shirts-
Blaine: 16:05 You had a record company together.
Elizabeth: 16:07 Yes. And so I was the office lady and helping, when he would book tours with the unknown bands-
Shon: 16:14 Let's go back to what actually paid for that, which was we did landscaping and yard work. So what music actually taught me-
Elizabeth: 16:23 Taught us is how-
Shon: 16:24 What music taught us was drywall, concrete, professional painting, roofing, tile-
Elizabeth: 16:30 Low income housing management.
Shon: 16:31 Management, yeah. Just about everything-
Elizabeth: 16:33 Under the sun.
Shon: 16:34 Yeah to build and remodel homes. And that's what we did to pay for it. We did that when we were married.
Elizabeth: 16:34 When we first got married-
Shon: 16:43 We moved into low income housing and managed it and then did all the repair work and the land ... and so that was the base-
Elizabeth: 16:49 That's how we paid-
Shon: 16:51 ... to pay for our lives and then building-
Blaine: 16:54 You people are not afraid to get your hands dirty.
Shon: 16:56 Hey, when it comes down to it, and I think that's why the chef thing really works is 'cause I know about myself that when I need to get there, when it has to be done, and that's why I think our business is as successful as it is, is, especially on the catering side is when it's on the line, when it's somebody really important, really famous, or the task is really difficult, people know that it'll happen. They don't have to worry about whether or not we're going to show up and then-
Blaine: 17:23 Yeah.
Elizabeth: 17:24 Not just show up but that it's going to exceed their expectations.
Shon: 17:30 Not just show up but excel. It's going to be worth is.
Honey: 17:30 And the restaurant business and you mentioned catering also, so that's jumping through hoops and a ticking clock and that kind of stress-
Shon: 17:38 Yeah, constantly.
Honey: 17:39 Does that work for both of you?
Shon: 17:41 I love it.
Honey: 17:42 You can't see this but his face lit up.
Elizabeth: 17:46 When we talked to you yesterday and you said controlled chaos, he survives. That is his ultimate realm to be in. Sometimes I have to take a little step out and have a breather for a few minutes.
Blaine: 17:57 We understand controlled chaos. We both have done production. Honey on the advertising agency side, me on the film side.
Shon: 18:03 Yeah, so even like with that, a lot of times we're working with people that are behind the clock and that are calling us a day before and they're like, "We just got our funding. We have to make this work. Can you put together catering? We have 100 people. We're going to show up in the desert. We need this to happen. And we have to have it on a budget." And you're like, "Okay, well at least you called us because we can do that and we can perform and we can make it happen." And usually by the end they're almost apologizing that they put us through it.
Because it's kind of a game. It's a game. You guys know. It's a game you learn that if you get everyone on your toes and it's under budget and you say all these things to get people to hop and jump because usually that's what they have to do in a L.A., New York, San Francisco market. We're not like that. So we come in like the calm in the storm and just go, treat us fair, pay us what we're worth. We'll get the job done. We'll be the highlight of the scenario, besides the magic that they create.
But really, and then they tell their friends. I've never once put in an article or in an advertisement or anything that we cater. We just don't do that. And it just comes to us. And I think that also-
Blaine: 19:11 It just happens organically.
Shon: 19:12 It just-
Elizabeth: 19:12 Yeah, it does.
Shon: 19:13 And it also filters out and now I can say to these different agents that will call, I can go, "Okay, are these good people? Is the producer, whoever we're working with, is he a good guy?" Because if he's not a good guy, I don't need to ... I could punish myself. Sometimes I take on people that are difficult because I know I can handle it because I've done it quite a few times in my profession, but I'm not going to send out one of my staff to get beat up and abused by someone that enjoys that. I mean you guys have probably seen it.
Blaine: 19:43 Yeah.
Shon: 19:44 Yeah, I mean, I love it. She doesn't.
Honey: 19:48 Yeah, anybody who listens to our show has probably heard us say that we had made a rule about a year into our business-
Blaine: 19:53 We have an advertising agency.
Honey: 19:54 And our rule is we will only work with people that we look forward to having dinner with.
Shon: 19:59 Yeah, that's awesome.
Honey: 20:00 And that changed everything. If you start getting those red flags that I don't want to sit down and have a meal with this person-
Shon: 20:06 Yeah, every time we get the request because people will just go on to my form response on one of my websites and like, "Hey, we need catering." And I always say, "Okay, well until we've had a phone call and I get to know you, that's not an option. I'm not going to ..."
Elizabeth: 20:19 Some people are interviewed.
Shon: 20:20 Because it's emotional for me. We put-
Elizabeth: 20:23 Well, it's a piece of you. I mean, when you do something, it is a piece of you.
Shon: 20:23 We put so much into what we do that we-
Elizabeth: 20:28 Because that's what makes it meaningful. If you don't have a piece of you-
Shon: 20:32 You're cooking for your friends, it's a lot different.
Blaine: 20:33 This is exactly why I don't like competitive cooking. Despite the fact I love watching Chopped, I will not compete because-
Shon: 20:40 Right.
Blaine: 20:40 That's not true, I've been in a neighborhood chili cook-off but anyway.
Shon: 20:43 We've done some of those things. If it's for a charity or we do those types. We get requests to do some of those shows because they're always looking but unless the opportunity presented itself and it would directly affect and help those around me, it's just not ... Because when you're producing it's like, "Okay, we have three spots left, Mr. Foster. And do you want to be interviewed for the Bad Boy Chef, the Angry Chef, or the ..." and you're like "Whoa, whoa, whoa." I'm none of those things. I'm the nice guy that wants to help. Well we already have that position filled. And I'm like, "Well, okay then."
Blaine: 21:20 You're not interested in being cast.
Shon: 21:23 Yeah, cast, yeah.
Honey: 21:24 Call the bad boy, right?
Shon: 21:26 And they hear the punk rock thing, so you're a bad boy. And I'm like, "No, I'm really not." I mean I am definitely the guy that questions everything. That's, I think, why my cooking is a little bit different. I wasn't trained by a chef.
Elizabeth: 21:41 We opened a health food store with a sandwich shop.
Shon: 21:44 With a deli. I love delis.
Blaine: 21:47 What's not to love?
Elizabeth: 21:47 That was our start.
Shon: 21:48 That was the first thing and what a deli teaches you, if you really look at it from a culinary standpoint, it teaches you curing. It teaches you food preservation. It teaches you baking. If you take a sandwich-
Elizabeth: 22:02 The importance of using quality ingredients.
Shon: 22:02 ... and you make it yourself, meaning milling the flour, making the bread, growing the lettuce, curing the bacon. A BLT sandwich-
Blaine: 22:11 [inaudible 00:22:11] integration.
Shon: 22:11 Yeah. A BLT becomes a study in culinary arts, if you look at it like that.
Elizabeth: 22:17 And because how he said he questions everything, one thing with Sega that we do is we want to know from start to finish, where the products come from. Because food tells a story. That's one thing that we have found, that we connect with people through food.
Because we all have emotions that are connected in food and when you're able to connect to a table that comes in because of your food, you take them back to positive memories, something with their grandma or a family vacation. Because the world is such a crazy-
Shon: 22:44 Or a new experience.
Elizabeth: 22:45 Yeah, crazy chaos place. When you're able to step out of the world and be connected like human being-
Shon: 22:51 As soon as food ... Like here's how the perfect scenario works out. Conversation may or may not be happening. Car ride definitely to get here has happened. And so you see everyone in these different stages of unhappiness usually coming in.
I mean if it's a local and they're coming in for a birthday or something, then it's maybe a little bit more elevated, but we're in the hub of travel and so it's always that, "Oh, just another place. It's just a restaurant at our hotel. It was convenient." And then as soon as they look at the menu and as soon as the server does a little bit of the explanation and as soon as the cocktail or the drinks hit and then the food comes out, you just see this, almost metamorphosis and you see them go from the first bite and then they look across the table and go, "Oh my gosh. This is great." And then people start talking. And once that happens, the food has hit, they've tasted it, it's more than what they expected. They start to talk about the food. Then they start to talk about life. And then they're friends again. And then community and love and respect starts happening.
Honey: 23:58 We felt it last night. I mean it was seven hours to get here with a stop on the way for a business meeting. We got here. We were travel weary. I didn't realize that the restaurant was in the hotel, so I was happy about that.
Blaine: 24:11 Because we are in the, what is this?
Elizabeth: 24:11 The Canyon's Boutique Hotel.
Blaine: 24:14 The Canyon's Boutique Hotel, which is not the name on the hotel that we made a reservation for because the internet hasn't recognized it over four year.
Honey: 24:21 The change from four years ago.
Blaine: 24:21 So we couldn't find the place.
Elizabeth: 24:21 Is it still-
Shon: 24:21 Victorian Inn.
Blaine: 24:21 Victorian Inn, yes.
Shon: 24:21 Interesting.
Honey: 24:27 So, sat down and I said to Blaine a couple times, I feel like I'm still vibrating from the road. And your server was great. And her mood-
Shon: 24:36 Mantra, yeah.
Honey: 24:37 ... was helpful and then the first plate showed up and then what a 180.
Blaine: 24:41 Life changed.
Honey: 24:42 Yeah. Life changed.
Shon: 24:45 Good.
Blaine: 24:45 Here's what I'd like to do. I'd like to go back to the chronology for just a moment because the two of you have done more together than most people will ever consider doing in a lifetime, including something unique, I think, for married couples, especially for married couples in business together.
So were you in the restaurant business before what I'm talking about happened?
Shon: 25:08 Yeah, oh absolutely. Yeah.
Blaine: 25:10 Let's have a quick synopsis of what was going on and why that transpired.
Shon: 25:15 We had opened Rewind Diner. We had ran it I think eight years, almost nine years. At that point, I had already taken on a position as an executive chef of a farm to fork restaurant in East Zion, called Zion Mountain Ranch.
Elizabeth: 25:30 And so he was working there and I was working in Kanab running-
Shon: 25:31 So she was the boss. I would come in and support some mornings and do soups and stocks or help with specials. But I was 365 days at this seven day a week resort, catering to more high end clientele.
Blaine: 25:44 And you're still alive.
Honey: 25:45 Wow.
Shon: 25:45 Yeah, that wasn't even the worst. That was just when I was getting started. Next was Amangiri Resort, which is dealing with the top 1% of the world.
Blaine: 25:55 Oh boy.
Shon: 25:55 And we were two bosses coming home every day, like ships passing in the night, but that ship was more of like a battle, guns ablazing about what needed to be done, and the stresses-
Blaine: 26:07 Wow, battleships passing.
Honey: 26:08 How many kids at this point?
Elizabeth: 26:10 Four. And it was to the point where Shon said that sometimes he just ... He sees the vision, and he's just like ...
Shon: 26:17 I'm going to go for it. I have to remind myself that maybe not everyone wants to climb that mountain. And I hadn't ... and I was still fighting for the top. I didn't go to culinary school. I was a nobody, but people were calling me Chef. I was cooking this crazy food. I was starting to have people show up and ask for wine tastings. I was starting to get invites to pop ups. I was starting to get written up in publications. I was having helicopters land and buying out the restaurant to come in and eat.
And when you're just an offensive lineman on a football team and it's your job just to help the other guy get all the attention, you start seeing that and you're going, maybe I am that cool. Maybe this is worth it. Because it was every day. [inaudible 00:27:04] Because I didn't go to school, I really had to learn everything myself so I would take Joël Robuchon's chicken stock and Gordon Ramsay's chicken stock and Danielle's chicken stock and I would go, okay which one's the best? Why do I like it? And what am I going to do that makes it unique to our area?
Because food in France is special because of where it's grown and then eaten and prepared. The same thing with Italy and if you really get to the bottom of that and understand it, you go, "Okay, I need to make food that's of here." Whether I'm making a duck lo mein dish that is traditionally, of course, from China, I'm using those ingredients that are of our area like the duck and the chiles that we use in it and some of those things. So anyway ...
Blaine: 27:43 I like those chiles, too. Side bar.
Shon: 27:47 So when you-
Honey: 27:48 So you're working big time. And you're holding down the fort.
Elizabeth: 27:48 And then-
Shon: 27:54 And then she's just in Kanab, just fighting through and it was the start of the downturn. So we had had this business-
Elizabeth: 28:00 2008. It was when that big housing market crash-
Shon: 28:04 We had gone from doing like-
Blaine: 28:06 and how long had you been together at this point?
Shon: 28:08 About 12 years. And it just got to the point where-
Elizabeth: 28:11 And it was hard because it was a battle, trying to make ends meet, survive-
Shon: 28:17 And she's like, "I'm down here raising the kids. You're up there ..." because this place I was at was like 40 minutes away. So I would leave before the sun got up and I would come home-
Elizabeth: 28:26 And when he gets in this mode of go, go, go. He was like, "I'm going to prove to people that I am not just this punk rock kid that just scare punk that isn't worth anybody's time. I'm going to show them that I'm at the top." When he gets his mind set on things, sometimes he's just like full force.
Blaine: 28:44 Driven.
Shon: 28:44 Yeah, for sure.
Elizabeth: 28:45 And then we both had our own ideas of how things should be. And so ...
Shon: 28:52 So anyway, yeah, we just weren't ... We had stopped working on what we were. We could be the best of friends ... Now when we got into a working situation ... I mean, I remember we got interviewed for something, for a TV show or something-
Elizabeth: 29:06 It was actually, so we separated from each other. I moved into my mom's house in 2011. So we were actually separated before Rewind Diner closed. And we actually were interviewed-
Shon: 29:19 Yeah a TV show or something and they were doing some voice over for what they had filmed-
Elizabeth: 29:23 And they wanted to know our history and why we did things. And so-
Shon: 29:27 And so she started telling our history and we're at the point of parting ways and I remember just watching her start to tear up because she's just like-
Elizabeth: 29:38 And I couldn't do it. I was like, "I can't."
Shon: 29:39 What the hell's going on? I can't even talk about this right now because we were the best team that had ever existed, and we're sitting here going what is wrong with us? It didn't save us, but it was just that point ... almost so much damage at that point had been done. It was just we need to be apart in order to heal and get back together.
And this is 20/20, of course.
Blaine: 30:02 20/20 hindsight?
Shon: 30:04 Yeah, yeah, yeah. Because we had hurt each other.
Elizabeth: 30:08 And we were hurting our kids. I think that was the biggest thing was seeing the impact. I remember-
Shon: 30:08 We couldn't be in the same room without being-
Elizabeth: 30:13 When we made the decision-
Shon: 30:13 ... at each other's throats.
Elizabeth: 30:14 We were driving to St. George to go watch a movie with our kids and we were fighting in the front seat. And I remember looking in the back at my oldest son and he's grabbing the kids and he was like, "Don't worry, I'll take care of you." And it was that point where we were like, "We're causing more damage than we are doing good."
Shon: 30:38 Because we felt like we were good parents and separately, we were great. They are-
Elizabeth: 30:48 They are why we do what we do.
Blaine: 30:50 Your kids.
Shon: 30:51 Absolutely.
Elizabeth: 30:54 That's why we did all the hard things.
Shon: 30:58 And part of it's kinda funny now because I always thought the cooler the dad I was, the better that dad I was going to be for them. It's this weird thing that I had to figure out.
I worked with punk rock bands and I was super cool and we were on the side of these stages with 20,000 people screaming. And I'm like, "I can't wait until one day I can bring my kids up here." How bizarre that I had linked that with being a good father.
Now it doesn't make any sense but at the time I saw being a great chef and being in magazines and on the TV and doing these things, that was me being a great dad because my dad was just a computer programmer, was at home most of the time and was never that cool, at least that I knew of. Later on I find out that he has 120 patents for Motorola Company and is why we have modern computers, some of the parts and pieces of it.
So we weren't good for each other and together we're terrible for our kids-
Elizabeth: 30:58 It was just a toxic environment and it was-
Honey: 31:55 Did you officially divorce?
Shon: 31:55 Yeah.
Elizabeth: 31:56 We did. In April, actually on-
Shon: 31:59 Our anniversary.
Blaine: 32:01 Oh boy.
Honey: 32:02 Oh wow.
Blaine: 32:02 On purpose?
Shon: 32:03 April 10th.
Elizabeth: 32:05 No, that's-
Blaine: 32:05 It just happened that way.
Elizabeth: 32:06 ... just how it happened.
Shon: 32:07 Just the realization when we hugged each other out in the parking lot.
Elizabeth: 32:11 After we had ... because when you go through a divorce, you have to do a parenting-
Shon: 32:19 Through Utah, watch a video.
Elizabeth: 32:19 ...class.
Shon: 32:19 Like how not to be evil to each other and your kids-
Elizabeth: 32:20 That was very emotional. And usually, most people, I don't know how most divorces work, but we were sitting in the same room together taking the class. And at first we were kinda mean and bitter to each other, but, I mean, we realized that the most important thing was our kids, making sure that our kids were taken care of. And no matter how much we hated each other, or how much we were angry, we couldn't let that impact our kids anymore.
And so that was, yeah, 2012. April 10th.
Shon: 32:54 I think we were officially divorced for 16 months, 18 months.
Elizabeth: 32:55 And then we got remarried October 11, 2014.
Honey: 33:01 Okay so what was the rebuilding?
Blaine: 33:05 What precipitated it?
Elizabeth: 33:05 So when Rewind closed, Shon-
Shon: 33:09 I think one big thing at that point is ... We did a lot of different stuff, but at that point it was like, "Okay, now we have to do this hard thing" and we had never relied on our parents.
My mom definitely was there to help us if we needed to borrow some money and pay it back and that kind of stuff, financially. But we never really, emotionally, relied on anyone else but each other. So all of a sudden, we'd get these things and I'd be like, "Hey Amangiri Resort just called me to get this job. What do you think?" So this is like my buddy, my coach, too, and my support. And the same in reverse.
So we, interestingly, probably started talking more again than we had the previous three years-
Elizabeth: 33:58 And being separate. It was hard. And we did some mean things to each other and it made us ... and then you're like, "Oh, I'm doing this. I really care about this person." You see these things and you're like, "Wow."
Shon: 34:12 So there was a couple key things. One was Amangiri. I was working out there, big fancy resort. They needed to hire a restaurant manager. I was the food and beverage director and executive chef and I was tired of these people being hired that were of pedigree, but they couldn't get the job done. So I actually set up this interview for this person. I didn't tell anybody who it was.
I said, "Hey, they're showing up at this time." This person had to interview with the GM, the director of HR, all the department heads-
Elizabeth: 34:42 The AGM.
Shon: 34:42 ... myself, the AGM, and when this person showed up it happened to be Elizabeth. So she'd been working this terrible job-
Elizabeth: 34:49 It was so funny because he was the last person I interviewed with. So I interviewed with everybody and they're ... I was sitting in the lobby, well, by the front desk area and they're like, "We're waiting for Chef Shon for your interview."
I thought that they knew. It was so funny, when they came to introduce, I was "Hey, how's it going?" It was pretty funny.
Shon: 35:12 Yeah, so just to avoid politics and I was then interviewed by the GM and, "Hey, we've been divorced for over a year. I just know that she can do the job." So that was a pivotal point for coming out and then we were working together again. And she was overwhelmed. I was overwhelmed. The first year at Amangiri, you're like, "I can't believe I'm here." The second year, you're "I'm not sure I can do this." And the third year I was "Why am I still here?"
Elizabeth: 35:38 It's incredible to be at that level where you're catering to the top 1% income of the world and the things that you're able to do, it's incredible. But it is the hardest job I have ever had because I'm very emotional. I wear my emotions on my sleeve.
Shon: 35:54 Yeah, if she didn't like you, she wouldn't be talking right now.
Blaine: 35:56 Well, I'm honored. I am not worthy.
Elizabeth: 36:02 I'm not very good at hiding my emotions because how I was raised is you only give the best. And when it's yourself you put your whole heart in. When you do something, you don't just do it 10% or 50%. So it was very emotionally draining. But it wasn't only one person that needed your help. There were 50 people who were VIPs.
Shon: 36:21 Everyday, that's why I was there for three years without a day off.
Elizabeth: 36:23 ... And they all needed 100% of you and it's only so long that you can give 100% to 50 people every single day.
Blaine: 36:28 Yeah, absolutely. I've got a question. You said something when we spoke to you on the phone and you dropped this tidbit on us about how you were working together and got divorced and got back together. And you said it was because you didn't realize something. [crosstalk 00:36:44]
Shon: 36:44 The big thing was we didn't realize that we could decide roles. We didn't both have to be the boss at home.
Honey: 36:48 That was it. It was the roles. You had said you had both been the boss and that was a [crosstalk 00:36:52].
Elizabeth: 36:53 And realizing that we both have talents and that we both have strengths and finding-
Shon: 36:58 We both have dreams. She had done a pretty good job of supporting me. I was Superman and without her, realizing how much she played into that role. When she was behind me and she said, you can do this. I did it. And without that, going, "Who am I? What do I do?"
And so funny enough this is happening ... She gets the job and then one night I had a dream and I was driving on a road and I went around this corner and it was gravel and I went off the road and the only thing I yelled was Elizabeth.
Honey: 37:32 Oh, jeez, you got me.
Blaine: 37:32 Wow. Okay, now Honey's losing it. I'm cold and dead inside, so ...
Shon: 37:37 It's okay. We all need to be at times. So when that happened, I woke up and I was like, "What am I doing?" And she didn't know this. I mean, I told her later on, but I was just, if I love her and I care about her and she's coming to work, she had made some decisions. She wasn't in a good place. I knew that, but I was ... Just being around me. We can do better. We can do better. I'm not going to tell her how to live her life, but we can do better. And I just decided that I was going to do whatever I needed to to be ready if she decided to come back, which was not easy, by any means. And we still had a lot of things we had to figure out but I'm so willing to fight for things that I deem worth it. Why had I not fought for her? Like for my kids, I don't care what you do, the kids are not leaving the house. I'll die without getting them to school in the morning and all those things. So it was really-
Elizabeth: 38:46 So they lived ... I moved out-
Shon: 38:47 They lived with me.
Elizabeth: 38:49 Thankfully my parents live here in Kanab, so I wasn't ... I was just a few blocks away.
Shon: 38:53 Yeah she was still in contact but it was-
Elizabeth: 38:58 I mean I think it made us realize-
Shon: 39:01 It had to happen.
Elizabeth: 39:01 ... who are we? Being divorced made us look at ourselves and go who are we and why are we here? What are we trying to achieve? Are we trying to become number one for ourselves? Because when you're by yourself, it's so lonely.
Shon: 39:01 It's lonely in the number one role.
Elizabeth: 39:16 When you don't have a family, when you don't have somebody that you love that you're ... All these things that you're fighting hard for and that you're going through these really tough things. At the end of the day, when you come home to yourself, it's not worth it.
Shon: 39:30 Yeah, and if you haven't worked on that person ... Now coming home to myself, I could probably do okay, but we'd all been so busy on getting whatever that is, just forward full steam ahead to get there.
Elizabeth: 39:45 Didn't matter what it took.
Shon: 39:46 You start getting there and realizing everything I needed was in the journey. We hear it all the time. But I'm doing Food and Wine events with Food and Wine magazine in Pebble Beach, California, and I'm there and I'm doing this crazy stuff and there's no one in the crowd that I know or that I care about, so why am I doing it? What's the purpose?
And so that was that shift and that's when we end up being out there, getting married, getting pregnant with our surprise four year old. Surprise!
Elizabeth: 40:22 Evie Kate.
Shon: 40:23 Evie Kate, which she is ... Helped us to remember.
Elizabeth: 40:27 She was our saving grace. Made us remember-
Shon: 40:27 Just perspective.
Elizabeth: 40:31 Yeah, perspective. Why we do what we do.
Shon: 40:33 Everybody's like "Oh my gosh, you're starting over again. Your youngest daughter is 14." And I'm like, "Man, I can't imagine ..." I'm not a selfish person by nature-
Elizabeth: 40:45 But we got to a selfish point, that's the ... But realizing that it's not just about us. It's about-
Shon: 40:51 How much more enjoyable is my morning? I could just have my morning ... If I want my morning, I get up a little earlier, because then as soon as Sunshine wakes up-
Elizabeth: 40:59 It is all about her.
Shon: 41:04 Yeah, we're making sure she has a great day. Not to the point where she doesn't have responsibility and stuff, but still. Yes, sir.
Blaine: 41:11 What's ... I know the answer to this, I think but I'm going to ask it anyway. Why put yourselves through this? Why work together? Why do something as crazy-
Elizabeth: 41:11 What? Now? Again? Doing Sego?
Blaine: 41:23 Yeah after being through this, why not just go off and get separate gigs?
Shon: 41:28 Stubborn.
Elizabeth: 41:29 And because we love Kanab. We love the community and to be able to ... And we love the people that we work with. So Sego isn't just a restaurant, it is a family. I mean, every single person here-
Shon: 41:44 I call it the Island of Misfits.
Elizabeth: 41:48 ... yeah, the Island of Misfits.
Honey: 41:48 I love that.
Elizabeth: 41:49 So when things are hard at Sego, we think about how many families ... It's not just a line cook or a dishwasher or a host or a server. They're real people. They have real lives. They have real dreams and aspirations. So it's not just our dream. It's all of the dreams that are here, coming together. That's why we do what we do. Because it's not just about us. It's about every single person, every part and piece that it takes. And I think that's what being divorced taught Shon and I, is it takes individual pieces to make this whole picture and make it beautiful.
Blaine: 42:25 And would you rather be in this position where you're working with each other than off doing something that might be easier [crosstalk 00:42:32]
Shon: 42:31 Well there's a lot of easier ways to make money.
Elizabeth: 42:35 There is.
Shon: 42:35 There's a lot of easier lives that we could live. I know that I'm not happy in those lives.
Blaine: 42:43 Oh man, there you go.
Elizabeth: 42:45 But when you come to a table and you ... because for me, when I was a little girl, my grandpa built this lemonade stand for us, me and my sister. And so he taught us how to make lemonade and we made sugar cookies with my mom. We wheel it to the top of the street every day and we'd peddle our cookies for 50 cents and our glass of lemonade for 50 cents, which it was by far more expensive than that, but we were so excited and we did that every day, all summer long.
It was me and my sister and our next door neighbor. And we made $300 at selling 50 cent ... But my grandpa taught us how to make lemonade. So for me, lemonade is ... It's not just lemonade. It's not just lemon juice, sugar and water. It's a story. It's an emotional connection. So when you are able-
Shon: 43:25 It's also like Chinese cooks.
Blaine: 43:30 Okay, I've never heard a better description of the food service business, nor a simpler one. Lemonade.
Shon: 43:33 Right.
Elizabeth: 43:33 It is. It's something as simple as lemonade, but when you think of something and you're like maybe it's chocolate chip cookies or maybe it's roasted carrots or mashed potatoes. You think about when you were a little ... when it takes you back to that happy place where-
Shon: 43:46 Or dry turkey and it's not a happy place, but it evokes memories.
Honey: 43:51 It's a clear place.
Elizabeth: 43:52 Yes, but maybe the dry turkey connects you to playing Scrabble with your cousins and being able to ... where you have this special time. That's what food does. It takes you back to a happy place to remind you life is good. Life is worth continuing. I have dreams. I can do this.
Because sometimes life is really hard.
Blaine: 44:10 And this infuses everything you do.
Elizabeth: 44:13 This is why we do what we do. Because it connects us to people and makes life valuable and beautiful.
Shon: 44:20 And right now we are at the precipice of another chapter. We have this great little restaurant. We now work with a company called In Group Hospitality. We have now done what we've done long enough that they are looking at us to do restaurants in other hotels. We have business partners. So we will be taking this next step.
And like Elizabeth, she's great at making things. She doesn't feel as great at teaching others how to make them. Which is why she now has to transition through because I will need her to take on these next steps. She will have to go to St. George and help train over there. She'll have to go to Moab and help train over there.
And she's scared half to death, but she's going to try. And if she can't do it, because there are certain things that we're not-
Elizabeth: 45:04 I mean, it goes back to ... I wanted the 9 to 5 thing and I used to think that's what I wanted, but now I know that that is not the mold that I fit in. And as scary as that is for me, I think back to my history of all the things that I've been able to do because I didn't try and fit in the box.
Because it's comfortable in the box. You know you've got four walls.
Shon: 45:26 And it wasn't like I wasn't there throwing her out the window, either. Moments where my kids are just "Okay, here's the part where Dad tells Mom that she's going to do it whether she likes it or not."
Elizabeth: 45:39 It's funny-
Shon: 45:40 It's like we're here. We can't not do it. And that's when she just gets angry and quiet and then we just do it and it's wonderful. This was history. We're a little bit further than that now. Because now she actually will cater by herself. That would have never happened before.
Honey: 45:54 Really.
Blaine: 45:54 You know, I'm hearing this and I'm hearing a lot of echos of another interview we did. Christian Hayes and Christine Hayes of Dandelion Catering in Yarmouth, Maine, and they describe the restaurant business as a business of misfits, much in the way you have.
Honey: 46:10 They seem to care about their staff the same way ... They said something very, very similar about seeing people on their staff as a full three-dimensional person with a family, with dreams, with-
Blaine: 46:20 And they've become family.
Honey: 46:21 I mean, they literally said that as you did.
Blaine: 46:23 The business is organized chaos. He spent 13 years fronting a mid-level band that toured New England like crazy. He actually went on Chopped and won an episode called Pork on the Brain, and doesn't know that he wants to go back and do it again.
Honey: 46:41 No, I think he loved doing it.
Shon: 46:42 Yeah, no, it's ... I've done enough of that to know, and I've done enough on the back side now to know how ... It's a TV show.
Elizabeth: 46:49 It's not real life. It doesn't show you what it's like to be in the kitchen. When you're creating these-
Shon: 46:53 But they have to make money just like we do so I don't sign up for them, but-
Honey: 46:58 It's fun to watch but it's a format and it's edited to fit the format and so things are manipulated in that way.
Blaine: 47:04 Who understands that an hour of Chopped takes an entire day to produce. They've been there for 14 hours.
Honey: 47:09 Yeah, if you don't come from a production background, it's like, "What do you mean I'm still here?"
Elizabeth: 47:13 I know it's so hard whenever we watch TV shows because we're like, "Yeah right. We know." [inaudible 00:47:19]
Shon: 47:19 Oh yeah, they just showed up and they had no idea and they had all these recipes memorized. Like any real chef, I have certain things in my head that I can pull out at any point in time, but when you're seeing some of these ingredients, sorry but I call bull ... But I think one of the big things, like you were talking about the staff. Somebody said something the other day and it's like do you speak for yourself or do you speak for the person you're speaking to?
And if you think about that for a minute, it really comes down to that. Do I run a restaurant for myself and for my ego for whatever else it gives me? Or do I operate a business that is for everyone that's there.
Elizabeth: 47:56 The people coming in.
Shon: 47:57 Because those are two very different places to operate from and you've been in ... I've been in restaurants where it's a celebrity chef and-
Blaine: 48:04 Ego rules.
Shon: 48:05 Right, the ego rules and I just [inaudible 00:48:08] spent four days at a class in Cleveland of all places. Who would have ever thought that I'd be going to Cleveland and there was a full plane of people going there, too. Figure that out.
But we get there-
Blaine: 48:20 Next stop Cleveland. How'd we get here?
Shon: 48:20 Yeah.
Honey: 48:20 Okay, we're going to get hate mail from Cleveland.
Shon: 48:25 We get there and ... one thing that I always do, we met some very important people, he's a celebrity chef, that's his home town. He has multiple restaurants there. We were taking a class from another celebrity level chef and a very-
Elizabeth: 48:37 Actually from this.
Shon: 48:40 I just don't want to mention it because we haven't talked to him. But and he's a very important writer. He's done books for the top chefs.
Blaine: 48:47 Yeah, he's nobody you've seen on TV, folks.
Shon: 48:49 Right. And in that process we kept getting these invites to go to different restaurants and because of that, we were eating for less than we definitely should have been. They were being very generous, which tends to happen.
But I also don't tout who I am. People usually find out and then we go from there. So we're having this experience and I just continually asked everyone because I can't fully like the person that's being nice to us unless I know that he's taking care of his staff. And every single one of those people, I've been here six years, five years, I'm a new guy, I've been here for three years. And then I always ask, do they take care of you? And in their eyes they say yes and in their mouth they say yes, my hat's off and I want to do everything I can to support that business.
Elizabeth: 49:32 After the first day, Shon sent me a message, and he's ... I was excited for him to go to this class. And I'm so pumped, and he's like, "Enh, I don't know."
Shon: 49:42 I was eager to go and learn something but with trepidation that I would get there and ... I mean, I've gotten to do a lot of great things, so it's always like, well, if I learn one thing from this class, then it will have been worth it.
Elizabeth: 49:54 But he sent me a message and he's like, "I was so wrong about Cleveland. I am blown away about this city and its culture, the people"-
Shon: 50:03 The people support the restaurants. The restaurants support the restaurants.
Elizabeth: 50:04 He's like, "I want to bring our kids back and see these places and feel the love that the people have for their city and for what they do."
Blaine: 50:14 So the reason Michael Symon seems like such a happy guy, because he's in Cleveland.
Shon: 50:19 Yeah. And Michael Roman's from Cleveland. There's a lot of pretty great chefs that are doing big things right now.
Elizabeth: 50:25 But Shon was like, "Here I am judging, there's nothing to do in Cleveland. I am so wrong and I was blown away." And that's what happens. Because when you connect-
Shon: 50:33 It's a contagious city.
Elizabeth: 50:34 When you connect with the people, when it becomes not just a place. When it becomes something where it goes to your heart, then it has value and meaning and it makes you want to tell everybody about it. And that's why we do what we do. When it connects to your heart, you want to share it with everybody.
Shon: 50:50 And someone could say-
Elizabeth: 50:50 And you want to change people's lives.
Shon: 50:50 ... if your personality's contagious, of course, you're mirroring what you want to see, but it was pretty great.
Honey: 50:59 It's just so interesting because you're saying you want to take your kids to Cleveland because everybody's so great and supportive and all this, and that's so different from I want to take my kids and have them front row at the rock show.
Shon: 51:09 Right, right.
Blaine: 51:10 Here's a question, because we've kind of touched on this but not in a hard facts kind of way. How do the two of you work together?
Honey: 51:19 Now.
Blaine: 51:19 Procedurally. What do you do?
Shon: 51:21 We've gotten better because now I just tell her what I want and expect her to do it and then she argues and then does it anyway.
Elizabeth: 51:31 And sometimes he will say things, but I know that it has to be a certain way so I ask more questions. Because I know there's more to-
Shon: 51:40 Yeah, she pushes me to answer the questions and sometimes I feel I don't have the time, but it's not completely figured out.
Elizabeth: 51:48 But I know that there's a certain expectation level and sometimes I'm like, "I know you're busy but we need to know the expectation. We need to know exactly."
Because for me, I'm the girl that ... Baking works for me because I follow recipes. I have to have all the T's crossed and the I's dotted.
Shon: 52:06 Okay what's she's saying if she hasn't made it before, it's impossible to make. As crazy as that sounds-
Elizabeth: 52:13 It's hard for me.
Shon: 52:13 For her-
Blaine: 52:14 Oh you're a baker.
Shon: 52:17 ... if she hasn't made it, she cannot make it. And I'm the catalyst.
Elizabeth: 52:22 It's not that I can't make it, I just can't make it for 500 people just the first time and go ... Because what if it doesn't turn out.
Blaine: 52:22 Yeah.
Shon: 52:29 But I know that she can-
Blaine: 52:29 That's a fair concern.
Shon: 52:33 And luckily, for both of us, she hasn't failed yet. But that's the same-
Blaine: 52:36 Right on.
Shon: 52:37 And sometimes I treat others as I treat myself, and I expect a lot out of myself. I expect that if somebody calls me and says I need 1,000 meals at this price point, whatever. I, luckily have people now around me that go, "Don't do it." Just because you have them, doesn't mean it's worth it.
And so I go, "Okay, maybe it's not worth it."
Elizabeth: 52:58 So, working together, I think we need each other. So that's why ... I mean, we need each other. I'm the girl that would be comfortable sitting in my box but if you're not ... If things aren't hard then you're not growing.
Blaine: 53:10 You two were destined to be a CoupleCo. I don't think there was any other possibility.
Shon: 53:14 Run towards scared is the mantra.
Blaine: 53:17 What is the craziest thing that has ever happened to you two on the job?
Honey: 53:21 In the restaurant business.
Blaine: 53:21 Besides getting divorced and getting remarried.
Shon: 53:25 I don't know. We've definitely got some stories. I mean Elizabeth spilled wine on ...
Blaine: 53:30 Good on you.
Elizabeth: 53:30 So my first day-
Blaine: 53:32 So did you use the word ... ?
Elizabeth: 53:34 No.
Shon: 53:36 He was awesome.
Elizabeth: 53:37 Yeah, my first day working at Amangiri and we did this event called The Raven's Nest so it's up in this-
Shon: 53:43 You have to climb up into this sand swept alcove, halfway up this mesa.
Elizabeth: 53:48 In the canyon. Yeah, so you have to climb up with ropes.
Shon: 53:49 And then we would do a campfire dinner for guests that have never had tin foil dinners. I mean it was a $1,000 tin foil dinner, so there's more to it than just a tin foil dinner but-
Blaine: 53:56 This is like that guy in Argentina who does everything [crosstalk 00:53:59]
Shon: 53:59 Yeah the Patagonian?
Blaine: 53:59 Yeah.
Elizabeth: 54:00 I wish we were as cool as the Patagonian.
Blaine: 54:02 It's on the way there.
Elizabeth: 54:03 Yeah, it's cool like that. So ... and his wife and his kids. His kids were sitting around the fire-
Shon: 54:10 I don't know if we can say his name. A lot of this stuff is under NDA but anyway-
Blaine: 54:13 Oh well.
Shon: 54:15 I don't want to disrespect him because-
Honey: 54:17 We'll celebrity chef.
Shon: 54:20 Yeah, celebrity chef.
Elizabeth: 54:20 Celebrity chef. So they had a gin cocktail and Chardonnay. So here I am carrying-
Shon: 54:26 And this is dark. You can't have headlamps. There's just hanging lanterns and it's a sand pit.
Elizabeth: 54:33 And so it's like-
Shon: 54:34 And so you can't-
Honey: 54:35 [crosstalk 00:54:35]
Elizabeth: 54:36 And it's not like you're out camping carrying mugs.
Shon: 54:36 This is long stem glassware.
Blaine: 54:43 This is fine dining in the middle of nowhere.
Elizabeth: 54:43 And so I'm carrying it carefully and here is the celebrity chef sitting in his chair and I stepped-
Shon: 54:49 There was a hole.
Elizabeth: 54:50 A hole and I went like this and here went two gin and tonics and two glasses of Chardonnay. All over him and I was mortified. This is the end-
Shon: 55:01 This is it, I quit, is what she said to me.
Elizabeth: 55:03 And he reaches out and he touches my hand and he said, "You're doing a good job, hon." And I was blown away.
Honey: 55:11 Wow.
Blaine: 55:13 He's not his TV persona.
Elizabeth: 55:14 No.
Shon: 55:15 Well, this particular individual-
Elizabeth: 55:19 He was with his family.
Shon: 55:19 Who's been known as a devil in the kitchen is ... I have worked with other chefs that have worked for him, and they were very quick in their response when I called when I knew who we were going to be taking care of, and they said, "You know what? He's an immaculate chef. He expects-"
Elizabeth: 55:34 The best.
Shon: 55:35 ... "the best every time. That'll never change. So if you perform, and you do a good job, then you have nothing to worry about. If you do not, then you may want to think about what you're about to do."
Elizabeth: 55:47 So I think with me, he could see that I was trying to give him the best possible experience and that we were in a sand pit and that I didn't purposely and I wasn't not doing my job.
Blaine: 56:00 But it also wasn't Zinfandel.
Shon: 56:02 Yeah, true.
Elizabeth: 56:02 That's true.
Shon: 56:05 Pink zinfandel. No they had chose-
Honey: 56:06 We have a girlfriend who spilled red wine on Helen Mirin, so ...
Shon: 56:08 And in that process, really what that taught me was that genuine people usually don't have the opportunity to be a family, to be normal, to not be on camera, to not be judged. And so the whole purpose of those experiences was to get down by the fire and make s'mores [inaudible 00:56:28] the time his four year old daughter while he does fake voice over while we're smoking and roasting the marshmallows-
Elizabeth: 56:34 And he's the TV commentary in the background for his kids.
Shon: 56:37 Right. And so that moment, I would never ... why I say to respect his name and who they are, I would never trade that moment and how special it was for them as a family or any gain personally, if that makes sense.
Blaine: 56:52 Yeah, it makes perfect sense, completely.
Shon: 56:54 And we got to have many, many experiences.
Blaine: 56:56 But that's still a crazy thing. I love it.
Shon: 56:57 Yeah, so that was ... and I'm standing in the back cooking going, oh my God.
Blaine: 57:01 You watched it happen?
Elizabeth: 57:01 And then the crazy thing was he came, he-
Blaine: 57:10 This has been part one of our conversation with Shon and Elizabeth Foster of Sego Restaurant in Kanab, Utah. You can find Sego online at Segokanab.com.
Honey: 57:19 You just get to say Kanab too much, definitely.
Blaine: 57:21 Yeah, and Sego.
Honey: 57:22 Way too fun. Kanab.
Blaine: 57:24 Yeah. That's S-E-G-O-K-A-N-A-B dot com.
Honey: 57:29 If you've enjoyed this podcast, and we sure hope you did-
Blaine: 57:34 We did.
Honey: 57:35 We did. If you think it would be useful or fun for other couple entrepreneurs or other couples or other people thinking about being couples-
Blaine: 57:42 Other people who love cooking.
Honey: 57:44 Please go to iTunes and leave a star rating and a review to help all of these people find it.
Blaine: 57:50 And join us next time when we return to Kanab to finish our conversation with Shon and Elizabeth.
Honey: 57:55 We can guarantee you it's as usual and transfixing as part one.
Blaine: 57:59 Yes, it is. And we're going to hear more about that celebrity chef, among other things. Next time here on CoupleCo, working with your spouse for fun and profit.
Honey: 58:07 Copyright 2019, All Rights Reserved.
Blaine: 58:09 I love you, baby.
Honey: 58:11 Love you, too.
Blaine: 58:12 CoupleCo out.