Leading young chefs, small business, social media influencers — with guest Kris Huseby

Leading young chefs, small business, social media influencers — with guest Kris Huseby

Mike gets a visit at the Chug's Diner courtyard from Kris Huseby. They talk about their days cooking at Michael Schwartz's Cypress Room, leading young chefs, why Mike hated Kris' white clogs when they first met, the challenges and rewards of doing your own thing, and the rise of the social media food influencer.


Subscribe to
Pan Con Podcast



Nicolás A. Jiménez: Just let me know when you're ready to go.

Michael Beltrán: Let's go. Let's, let's ramp this motherfucker up.

Nicolás A. Jiménez: And how do you want to do as far as like intros go.

Michael Beltrán: You intro. You're the guy. You have the voice for this.

Nicolás A. Jiménez: All right. Welcome to a new episode of Pan Con Podcast. The podcast that really is not a sandwich, but that's what we're calling it. This is Pan Con Podcast with chef Mike Beltran. I am the sound guy formerly known as Nick Jimenez.

Michael Beltrán: Formerly known.

Nicolás A. Jiménez: Formerly known. And on this episode of the podcast, we have our first, we have a first sponsor. Before we introduce our guest, we want to let people know about the sponsor of this show.

Michael Beltrán: We're going to talk to sponsor already? We're only like 30 seconds in.

Nicolás A. Jiménez: Your name is on the podcast.

Michael Beltrán: Yeah, I get it. Let's talk about our guest first.

Nicolás A. Jiménez: Let's talk about our guest. Who's our guest Mike?

Michael Beltrán: Our guest today is the man, the myth, the legend himself, the pasta shakin, crack back bacon, Kris Huseby everyone.

Kris Huseby: Hi

Michael Beltrán: Chris is a good friend of mine. Chris and I worked together for a long time and we became dear, dear friends in that time. Tell the people about yourself, Chris.

Kris Huseby: I just turned 36.

Michael Beltrán: Alright!

Kris Huseby: I'm a Taurus.

Michael Beltrán: I feel like we're on a dating website now.

Kris Huseby: I feel like that too. And that's real weird. Yeah.

Michael Beltrán: A little bit.

Kris Huseby: I'm alright with it, though. I'm 36. I'm from Miami. My folks are from Minneapolis, Minnesota. They moved here 45 years ago and opened a running shoe store in South Miami and I grew up in and around that small business.

Michael Beltrán: Tell him the name.

Kris Huseby: Oh, Footworks.

Michael Beltrán: Yes, legendary...

Kris Huseby: Team Footwork's is also another organization that puts on running events. And then, let's see, in my early twenties, I started working in restaurants.

Michael Beltrán: Welcome.

Kris Huseby: Found my way into the kitchen and into a pretty steady schedule of drinking and substance abuse.

Michael Beltrán: Perfect. My kind of guy.

Kris Huseby: Yeah. So, uh, and then eventually ended up in a real kitchen with Uncle Mike and that was pretty fucking cool.

Michael Beltrán: I still get that uncle Mike reference a lot — from all over the country at this point.

Kris Huseby: Yeah. And sometimes it's like from dudes that are older than you. Which is like, you know, one of those things, man.

Michael Beltrán: Yeah. So, funny story. Day one, Kris was ... You were trying out, right? We had already opened or this was pre opening a couple of days before...

Kris Huseby: The interview or the I'm already hired?

Michael Beltrán: No, you were already hired. So this was at the Cypress Room, the Michael Schwartz restaurant that I helped run with Uncle Roro. Chris, he's just kind of like ... He looks a little bit of mess. Right. And he's just, but he's moving fast. He's moving with purpose, but I fucking hated him. Do you remember why?

Kris Huseby: I'm messy? I don't know.

Michael Beltrán: No. 'Cause you had white clogs on.

Kris Huseby: Oh yeah.

Michael Beltrán: I was like, "Who is this fucking guy trying to be different with his white clogs?" And I was just like creating a show and I was just like, "Fuck this guy." And I was trying to be like a little bit of a bully. Which we'll get into later. And I was trying to intimidate, but you stood strong. I remember those early days. It was quite crazy. And I was working like 18 hour days pretty much six days a week. And Chris was kind of like the bright spot 'cause we had some real green cooks at that point. Louie...

Kris Huseby: Yeah. You had some badasses, though.

Michael Beltrán: Yeah. Louie was like 4-foot-11...

Kris Huseby: Yeah, 4-foot-11 and probably the best looking dude in the kitchen. Well, probably no. The best looking dude in the kitchen, full stop.

Michael Beltrán: I would disagree.

Kris Huseby: What?

Michael Beltrán: I mean, I'm quite the looker, but I'm just saying ... Louie came from Alinea, so he was definitely a great cook.

Kris Huseby: Decent pedigree. It's whatever.

Michael Beltrán: Decent. And he works sautée for like the first four months and then I worked grill for the first three years.

Kris Huseby: I worked grill for like 10 minutes.

Michael Beltrán: Oh man. I'm going to say that later when we get into it. I'm going to tell everyone the story about when I was working sautée, you can grill. That was in there.

Kris Huseby: The day I almost passed out? There was a couple of those.

Michael Beltrán: There was a good one. So anyways, Kris had that, like, older line cook wisdom, which no one else had and it was so very important because when you have a bunch of young cooks who don't really understand that this gets a little hairy...

Kris Huseby: Yeah.

Michael Beltrán: And it's really all about like, you know, you've got a sack up and you just gotta push through and you got to get it done. That I think was along with being very talented, was one of your best attributes in that kitchen.

Kris Huseby: Thanks man.

Michael Beltrán: And that's why we became very close friends. I think. That at the beginning was like, "How do we get these younger guys to have a little bit of swagger to them?" I guess that would be a good way to put it.

Kris Huseby: General advice to the younger guys was I think a big one. Like I like I remember at times being like, "This is a good opportunity to just shut up. You're getting yelled at 'cause you fucked up. Shut up."

Michael Beltrán: You remember the chicken breast? We got 45 minutes here to talk about just stuff. I was listening to a podcast with David Chang and the Joe Beef guys.

Kris Huseby: Oh Man.

Michael Beltrán: Yeah. And their... You know how we feel about that. We talk about them a lot. But something Dave McMillan said really stood out to me the most, which was when he was talking about younger cooks and he was talking about himself and he was talking about how different shit was and how like narcissistic the whole, you know, entity of being a chef in the kitchen is. He kept on bringing up younger cooks and he said, "You know what? It's a time to take a step back and to be a shepherd and not a viking."

Kris Huseby: Damn.

Michael Beltrán: Right. And that statement to me ... it's really resonated in my head over and over and over again. Like I had a viking moment, not even like two hours ago. Here, not even 30 feet away from where we're standing, you know, but I'm like, I'm very aware and I need to try to change those things to try to lead people in the right direction. So when it goes back to our time at Cypress, you know, we had a lot of really young, talented guys. Ryan, Tony, Louie, who else?

Kris Huseby: Christian, Cleo.

Michael Beltrán: Christian, Cleo. All very young guys. Tony at that time was like 22 years old and now Tony runs Mandolin with Roel.

Kris Huseby: Look at him.

Michael Beltrán: Yeah. I know. Such a grown up. So it's always going back to like that ... How do we nurture instead of just kind of like beating people up?

Kris Huseby: Yeah. It's like a hearing about cooks that came up in the like Joël Robuchon era. And hearing things like, "Oh, you can tell who the sous chef is because his shoulder is bruised because the chef's standing behind him whacking him with a spoon or something" and stories that Roel would tell [about] working for various like famous chefs who would just walk up behind you and you're making a sauce and say something like, "Oh, now I understand. you'll never be good at that." Something like that is only meant to debase you to break you down. And I guess then the idea would be then let that you build someone back up and now they're stronger. But it just seems like it's kind of like ... related to dog training where like, you can get results with fear and kicking a dog or beating a dog, but you had much better results, you know, with positive reinforcement and with sort of fostering a relationship where someone's inspired to work harder, do more. And that's something that I think ... I immediately gravitated towards you in the Cypress Room. I had worked for eight or nine years in kitchens in Miami and a decent spectrum from like turn-and-burn to what they thought was fine dining on South Beach at a steak house.

Michael Beltrán: I want to ... Can you repeat that? What they...

Kris Huseby: ... thought was fine dining.

Michael Beltrán: Good. I want to remind the people of that.

Kris Huseby: Yeah, there's a big difference. I mean expensive ingredients and expensive plates versus, you know, refined technique and touch ... There's a huge line there. At various points in that arc of cooking for a living, I worked for at different times, chefs who couldn't hold their own in the line. They were great at administration, they were great at ordering and making sure that we always had shit and that, you know, their costs were right, but they were not very creative and they couldn't work a station better than myself or other kids on the line. And I find that to be like almost a work ethic thing. And like when there's that disconnect, it's really hard to have any respect for the person you're working for. So like coming into an environment like the Cypress Room where you and Roel are outworking everyone around you times a hundred, it's like, well that's the standard. So now everyone is expected to work to try to work at least as hard as you guys, you know?

Michael Beltrán: People who really want it.

Kris Huseby: I just mean that like there's, there's a difference between that and the guy who like kind of threatens your job or like holds things over your head because they can and then sits in the office at a computer and barks orders, versus the guy who's actually doing the work and can and can tell you like, "Fucking hit it, dude, you're done." And then work your station and do a better job than you. If that's not the case, it's really hard. Everyone finds themselves in those positions and I'm sure it various jobs, but like, it also created the environment in that kitchen. You guys created the environment through like who you hired and just how you treated things. Where, I mean, dude, I've never worked in a place where, and I've never even heard of other people working in a place ... You remember when Roel, when the summer came around and got slow and he was like, "Everybody gets a project"? Like pick something to do and learn about it and do it. The restaurant's willing to spend a little bit of money on that? I decided to make bread so you order me heirloom flour from Anson Mills over the summer?

Michael Beltrán: Yeah, I remember that.

Kris Huseby: Like that's rowdy, and maybe not the best business decision, but you want to talk about fostering, like a drive to better yourself and to be a better cook and then to be more of an asset to the kitchen. Cause ultimately you could say that that's altruistic, but really it's a smart move on his part because his cooks are now like, you know ... they're just better cooks.

Michael Beltrán: I mean it also shows faith in someone's talent and someone's drive to like want to learn.

Kris Huseby: Yeah. And it'd be easy to say like, "Summer's slow, so just cut hours." And obviously you have to do that because that's a business, but like it was kind of like dumbfounding to me. It was kind of indicative of what of the culture that you guys were trying to create. And I mean it wasn't always a success either, you know, but the idea that you guys gave enough of a shit about that part of it ... I don't know as much about what Roel's doing nowadays 'cause I'm not in touch with them as much. But it seems like you do that here, you know? You do a really good job of sort of cultivating that like "hard work gets you somewhere" environment.

Michael Beltrán: It's funny you mentioned someone that just barks orders and it doesn't want to work the line. So, to a fault, I really like working the line, like much more than I like all the other shit

Kris Huseby: Shocking.

Michael Beltrán: You know, it's just like not as fun sitting in meetings and shit. So this past Saturday, I scheduled my day to just work service at all three of the locations.

Kris Huseby: No Shit.

Michael Beltrán: So I started my morning on the beach and of course, you know, cooks walk in and it was like, "What the fuck is this guy doing here?" And you know, I changed like three items on the menu and ran three specials and they're like "this guy's fucking crazy." But it shows them something. It shows them like, you know, this isn't just like a regular kitchen job. This guy's gonna push us. He wants us to be better and that's like... You know, even at Time Out, which we only have eight menu items and it's a very different dynamic than a full-fledged restaurant.

Kris Huseby: It'd be really easy for you not to have that approach there. Like, let me just tread water.

Michael Beltrán: But selfishly there's a Josper and a wood grill there, so I liked that one too. So you know, went over there and we ran a couple of specials. We sold out of the specials in a couple of hours. So I came over here to Chug's and just kind of like perused the line for a couple of hours. Went home, took an hour break and then at 5:45 showed up in the line and Ariete and everyone was like, "What's going on?" I'm like, I'm going to be here for the next five hours. Hope you guys are ready.

Kris Huseby: Papi's working.

Michael Beltrán: You know, I proceeded to just kind of like push them around. But it's only because I want them to be better. You know, and I don't ever want you to feel like "This guy, he wants us to do food that he's not doing." No, no, no. That's not how this works.

Kris Huseby: Right.

Michael Beltrán: To an extent, is that achievable always? No. You know, we've got to run a business. We've got to make sure and maintain business. All that is good, but I never want to like lose touch with the food part. Time Out too... A friend of mine was in a couple stalls away from us and he had a couple people call out. He was like going down hard. I went over there, I was like, "You need help?" And he's like, "I need help." Jumped on the line, "Tell me what you need. I don't know your food, but I'll put all the food up and you can plate it." For an hour and a half, banged out service with him. He put it up and it was fun.

Kris Huseby: That's awesome.

Michael Beltrán: That's fun though!

Kris Huseby: Yeah, for sure.

Michael Beltrán: That's like ... I go back to that podcast talking about, like, how we are mentally ... chefs.

Kris Huseby: Yeah.

Michael Beltrán: You know, and they're like, "We always have this dream. It was like opening up a 20 seat restaurant. Then when we open up the 20 seat restaurant, we're like, what if we add 10 more seats? And then when we have 30 seats, We're like, what if we added another 15? So it's just like, we're like masochists you know? We want to put ourselves in a more difficult situation. And I dunno for me, like, I love that shit. It goes back to like the Cypress Room days. I mean that food was tough and we were doing it in a kitchen that was the size of a box. And yeah, our biggest night there was 99 covers. That was our biggest night ever.

Kris Huseby: You sure?

Michael Beltrán: A hundred percent, hundred percent. Cause I'll never forget it. 99 covers and we crushed it. But that was our biggest night ever. And that's the most that we could do there because of the style of food, style of service.

Kris Huseby: Right.

Michael Beltrán: But I mean, we were, you remember consommé to order? Yes. You know, you remember like poaching those eggs and just all those pickups, everything. 100% ... We didn't sandbag of fucking thing in there. Nothing. I mean the risotto? Come on. All'onda?

Kris Huseby: Yeah, dude.

Michael Beltrán: It just, we and our fearless leader at the time... The thing about Roel is that he could do it too.

Kris Huseby: Yeah.

Michael Beltrán: And he wouldn't be scared to tell you to get the fuck off the line and do it himself.

Kris Huseby: He wouldn't be scared to do that through whatever kind of physical ailments might be occurring at the time were like, dude can barely stand up, but it's cool. He's going to like bang out dinner service on whatever station.

Michael Beltrán: Right. Well I think, I think a lot of that, I think a lot of that just, it trickled down to us and the way that we thought and the way that we handled a lot of that stuff, you know? And it was sad that that restaurant didn't last. That to me is still is one of the best restaurants Miami has ever had.

Kris Huseby: Yeah, I agree. One thing I do remember about, uh, about being there and one of the first times I heard the name "Joe Beef" was you ... I can't remember if it was an article or an interview or something where it was about cleaning toilets. It was about being ... If it's your restaurant, if you're the chef, like you're the guy whose shoulder deep in the grease trap, you're the guy who's fixing the clogged toilet and you're the guy who's smiling through that because this is your spot and this is your like vision and all that other stuff. Like it's just like hearing that was immediately reminiscent of watching my parents start a business and just, like, through sheer will and willingness to ... I mean, eventually become financially pretty successful and pretty well established. But like over the course of like 40 years taking out multiple mortgages and like, never wearing clothes or shoes that didn't come from the running shoe store, which meant that like, as a kid, I wore women's shoes until I was like 13. So that was really cool in middle school. But yeah, and watching my mom wait tables after the shoe store closed at a diner down the street and my dad resole shoes in the back of the store because they had to make ends meet. That kind of willingness to do whatever it takes ... It was never said, but it just was evident to me that that's better than working for someone else. You know what I mean? It's worth putting in all that time, even if in the long run it ends up not working out the way you thought it did or even at all. Like it's worth trying that stuff. And the only way of actually doing it is to work like what we're talking about, to really be fully committed and not just in like that that like that grit kind of yourself way, but knowing when to ask for help and then cultivating that environment around you, which you seem to have done really well. I knew right when Ariete, when that was happening, like it was a weird transition because I thought I was gonna be a part of it and then to not be, it's just like, it's one of those things in life that takes different directions. Knowing that you basically had your two right hand guys like set up in the wings waiting essentially. That infrastructure is so crucial.

Michael Beltrán: I'm, I'm very, I openly say it all the time that if you think you could start a business or a restaurant or whatever it is and you want it to be big, like a restaurant is a big undertaking. I don't care if it's 15 seats or 150 seats. If you are under this assumption that you're going to do that shit alone, you are sorely mistaken. Gio and Matt, I mean we've worked together on and off for 10 years. They're like family to me. I remember early on when you were going to come on board, that was like a super exciting time. You know, we were going to have like a whole fermentation lab. We had this all this whole fucking thing spec'd out vinegars and whatever. And really that program even now never really took off because you didn't come on board. 'Cause to really curate that kind of stuff, you need to pay attention to it. Right. You know, so that's why people think like, "Oh yeah, you know, I'll open up a restaurant and you know, I'm a really good cook at home." No. Stay cooking at home. That's not how this shit works. It's different when you're cooking for 150 people every day and they expect their food now. And then you've got to run a business on the back end. It's just so much and it's like any business, it goes to a test like watching your parents open the store, work the store all throughout your life, understanding that small business mentality. That's why through the years, whenever we talk on the phone, it's usually for more than an hour because we just talk about stuff and I like, apart from being friends, you can understand what I'm talking about because you saw your parents go through it. I saw my grandparents go through it. I saw my dad go through it. And it's like, this small business thing ... I remember in the early days of Ariete, there were plumbing issues. I had my hands in places I didn't like it to be, you know? That's why everyone's like like, "Well, the restaurant business is so risky." Yeah. It's risky. But you know, you need to be willing to make the sacrifice to make it work. Just like any business. You know, you need to be willing to sacrifice whole fuckton.

Kris Huseby: It's also, I feel like it's their willingness to sacrifice. And then also ... I'm really fortunate to have, just a fucking amazing family and my like, my niece who's, 19 I learn from her all the time. It's astounding. She's smarter than I am and it's scary. It's awesome though. She went on camping trip, this canoe trip. And long story short, we were having a conversation coming back from it after picking her up from this like camping trip that she went on and she was talking about how one of the things she learned was having a conversation amongst the kids in her group and with her counselor about setting expectations for the day. Like openly discussing with each other what we like, this is how far we're going to travel today. This is what that traveling looks like, this is how many times we're gonna have to get out of the canoe and carry everything. And the, you know, at that point, setting expectations of what we think our day is going to look like, et cetera. And I feel like that was such a huge ... Like when she told me that, I was like, "Holy Shit, I can't believe I've never thought about that because so many things ... For example, starting a business, whatever that business is, you have expectations about how it might be or how it will be or what even what success is going to look like. And defining those things clearly and having a good idea of, of like how you define success ... Cause it doesn't necessarily mean like financially successful. Like the fact that your restaurant is still open, that Ariete is still open and you're opening and you're doing all the things that you're doing now. You're not a rich man because of this yet. And you might not ever be like extremely wealthy but you're incredibly successful at this as far as I'm concerned. Cause like there's not ... The whole surviving a year thing and all that shit, whatever. But more than that, it's like, you survived a year, but you also have an identity and a vision and then there's like a clear thing of like what your cuisine and what your food is. You know what I mean? There's an identity there, you know? So it's like you're not just surviving, you're not just like, you know, staying alive. You've created like a little world into yourself, you know? And that's impressive.

Michael Beltrán: I think what you said is like super important. It's like building your own identity. I think with food, and you would probably agree with this too, that's very difficult to build your own identity. Some people think that they know and then you go and then you don't know. Right. For example, when yet opened, I thought I knew, I did not know. I had no idea, cause I was so insecure and so like scared of those things. And that always goes back to that same topic that you and I have discussed before, which is the mental aspect of food. You know, and the whole kitchen atmosphere. You are buried behind someone's food for years. And then you are asked "What is your own expression?" And the thing is if you are a soldier, like for example, you and I were soldiers in Roel's army and Michael Schwartz's technically — so we were cooking their food. And 100% their expressions.

Kris Huseby: Even when it would be a situation where it was like, "Give me the third course for the tasting menu tonight" it would still be filtered through Roel, even if you brought a composed dish that was entirely yours, you still had to like in thinking of that and composing that dish, you were running that through the filter of "I get to give that to Roel before it can go to the menu. So it's still not entirely yours. Even if it's like your idea, it's still ...

Michael Beltrán: A hundred precent. And then you lead up to like the year of opening up a restaurant. Like I'm gonna do my thing, I'm gonna do my thing, I'm going to do whatever. And then you sit on your desk or table or whatever, blank sheet of paper, write a menu. What do you write? You know, sometimes you don't know. Then it's like, "What would Roel do? Or what would Michael do or what would normally do or what would or any of these people do?" And it's like no, what would you do? And then it's like a small sample size of panic. Cause then it's like, "Well what would I do? People are coming, they want to eat my food. They want to eat our food. What is food? Yeah. So it's a good amount of soul searching too. And it's like there's a large portion of that that you need to be okay with like the insecurity aspect of it. Like you need to feel secure enough to be like, all right, I'm going to put myself out there and not hide behind anything else. Cause before we could be like, "Well no, I mean that's Roel's food."

Kris Huseby: For sure.

Michael Beltrán: You know, like that's him. I didn't, I don't know.

Kris Huseby: I was just following orders, boss.

Michael Beltrán: "I don't know. I don't know." But now it's like, "No, no, it's me."

Kris Huseby: It's you, homie.

Michael Beltrán: So there's like a lot of sleepless nights. And then what about when they don't come? People stop coming. Then it's a whole other fucking ... Did they stop coming because I suck? So this just like further goes into that whole like the mentality of the cook and the chef and the small business owner, like all jammed into one small box. And there was a time when Ariete was days away from closing. I mean literally days. You know, we would talk on and off. I never told you that much. But yeah, days away from closing. And I sat down with Gio and Matt and you know, they didn't know either and it was just like, they're like, "Well, what are we gonna do for the menu?" And I was like, "Fuck it, let's do whatever the fuck we want. Let's just really like, let's just fucking do whatever the fuck we want with Julie. Momofuku. Yeah, I mean, you know, his was a little more extensive because we were still kind of on the track.

Kris Huseby: I just mean in that like ultimately you like the chips are down or whatever the difficult situation is, your response to that then is "Let's like ... For lack of a better term, and to be totally cheesy about it, like follow your heart," right?

Michael Beltrán: I mean, it's cheesy, but it's true.

Kris Huseby: To have that approach, I feel, is really liberating. Snd I'm sure it's terrifying, but like that it gives you the sort of freedom to not give a shit, to be passionate about it and pursue it for that reason instead of like, you're operating out of passion instead of fear. Instead of fear of closing or fear of like, "Oh no, are we going to stay open or are they gonna like it?" It's like, "No, I'm going to do this because I'm really good at it and I love this shit."

Michael Beltrán: Also I've always had the mantra like, "I don't give a fuck." But I'll tell you the first 14 months of Ariete, I gave a fuck. And I give a fuck too much. I give a fuck like, "What are these people gonna say?" And that's why I always go back to that influencer talk. I don't give a fuck what those people think. Fuck them.

Kris Huseby: By the way, I'm glad that you're so vocal about that shit. And it's becoming more and more of a common thing. And I feel like it's necessary. It's necessary to call that kind of shit out and to be honest, to be like intellectually honest about a lot of that stuff. Because when you talk about a review of something that you were given for free, it's just disingenuous. Like there's just no way for you not to be biased. Furthermore, when they, when like influencers directly contact business owners looking for handouts...

Michael Beltrán: "Let's collaborate..."

Kris Huseby: We're not collaborating. That's not a collaboration. That's a conspiracy to be disingenuous to the public, you know what I mean? To present something other than what it is. And that's a bummer. Like that's a huge bummer. And usually that's indicative of either a lack of confidence in the product or the service or a lack of quality in the product or the service. And it's one of the things that like in, I don't know, in different industries ... and it's really common here in Miami where like, you know, you'll use ... sex is often used, or something other than just the integrity of something being really well made are really good.

Michael Beltrán: Sex and sexiness is a really good one.

Kris Huseby: And or wealth like those two things. Like the idea of like renting a $100,000 car for the weekend so that you can go back to your shitty apartment and Kendall, like, I just don't understand ... But using that to sell something, to me means that if you're using that kind of flashy, sexy thing to sell something, it's almost like, I have doubts about the quality of that thing because like, you know... Like Benton's bacon doesn't need to do anything. It just is. It's just like, "Here's the fucking bacon." And it's that good. Anson Mills isn't like "Anson Mills."

Michael Beltrán: What about Le Creuset?

Kris Huseby: Well, you might want a sex that up a little bit.

Michael Beltrán: It's great because I remember this year I went on a small tangent, which wasn't even that ... I thought I was being super like nice about it, but apparently it wasn't. This, this influencer ate her top 10 desserts and they were her top 10 desserts of the year. I repost it. I was like, "This person's top 10 desserts that she ate for free." And I'm not fucking wrong though, right?

Kris Huseby: No.

Michael Beltrán: And it's like when you talk about like sex selling something, you look at a lot of the influencers posts and a lot of them are with a large ice cream cone with tons of fucking sprinkles and they're wearing a bikini. Right? Or they're like on, on the hood of some kind of Ferrari and they're eating a cheeseburger.

Kris Huseby: What the fuck does that have to do with anything?

Michael Beltrán: You barely took a bite out of that cheeseburger if you took a bite at all. So how about this? How about what I find sexy is the baker that wakes up at two in the morning, goes to work, mills their own flour, makes their own bread, then cuts said bread, toasts that bread and makes me a fucking sandwich. That I find sexy and that I want to sing to the high heavens about. And I don't care if you get $100,000 ... You know what's crazy, dude? This is what's crazy to me. What's crazy to me is that that some of these fucking pansies get paid five grand to post five posts about someone that they should go to and say thank you for your work. Instead they're going and direct messaging them. "Hey, let's collaborate." Fuck you man. It's not a collaboration. This isn't a collaboration. You know, this is you trying to extort me for your following. Right? I don't know shit. I'm terrible at technology. We all openly talk about this. I'm horrible with it. I know how to check my emails and that's about it. Right. And even then it gets tough. But what I'm trying to say is like how many of those followers are actually like real? You know, like if you've got 100,000 followers and you're only getting like 500 likes or something wrong there. You know, there's something like incredibly wrong. So I don't know. I went a little bit on a tangent there, but I think uh, we can cut to our first sponsor. This is going to be our first one ever.

Kris Huseby: Ay papi.

Michael Beltrán: I'm excited. Tell me if I, uh, if I mess this up.

Kris Huseby: I will.

Michael Beltrán: Okay. This episode of Pan Con Podcast is brought to you by Croqueta Doorstops — the doorstop that is also a croqueta. For a limited time. Get two for the price of one. Croqueta Doorstops. This meriendita has an open door policy. That's pretty incredible. I think that now everyone's gonna jump on ship here and want to sponsor this podcast. Well, what do you guys think?

Kris Huseby: I think you'd be foolish not to.

Nicolás A. Jiménez: My phone's blowing up already. We haven't even put this thing out.

Kris Huseby: The way that you read copy, Mike, is pretty impressive.

Nicolás A. Jiménez: We've got to work on meriendita.

Michael Beltrán: I know! For some reason, we got there and I just full stop and look at Nick and Nick was like, "I got you, don't worry."

Kris Huseby: Hey, that was perfect though.

Michael Beltrán: Yeah, I think it was good.

Kris Huseby: Nailed it. That was like the hype man. You're like the Flava Flav to his Chuck D.

Michael Beltrán: So, um, we went a little off track talking about influencers.

Kris Huseby: Yeah. I just think that that whole, that whole social media culture though, I think that you like, you do a pretty good job of pointing out the kind of gnarly things that inevitably come along with it. You know? I didn't have social media for a long time and I still don't. But yeah, I mean I think it's a useful tool. It's just, it's really gnarly because I like the things that we outright know about it, that Facebook has outright said as far as getting likes on things that you post hits the same, you know, sort of like pleasure centers in your brain as other things like sugar or drugs, right? Where you post this picture, your phone vibrates, you see that so-and-so likes that picture and you literally have a dopamine hit from that. You literally have a physical reaction that causes good feelings, that causes like a positive — a physically positive reaction. And the inverse is also is also true. And so it's like it has this amazing potential, but it's also like, if that potential is being used in a manipulative way it becomes extra disgusting, you know, it becomes an extra, just super disingenuous. Where like this whole thing of these like perfectly posed pictures where someone's just just so happens to be at the beach and that product that they're an influencer for it just so happens to be on their beach blanket and everything's ... you know they live this perfect life and none of that shit is real and none of that shit has anything to do with that product. And it's sneaky and it's shitty. When you then tie that into, like, that's how you make your living by extorting businesses out of money so that they can give you not real feedback about your business.

Michael Beltrán: Can I tell you a little fun prank I'm playing on the world? So I just bought this hat. I don't know if you've seen this happen. It's pretty glorious. It's a Stetson hat.

Kris Huseby: Oh yeah.

Michael Beltrán: It's quite, it's quite the statement and I like it. I also am a big fan of the $16 Casio watch. As you're well aware of that.

Kris Huseby: I saw that. A bit of a flex.

Michael Beltrán: So in all my pictures that I'm wearing both of them, I tag them as my sponsor. Just for fun. Cause like, could you imagine if Casio was like, "Man, this guy's pretty cool. Let me send him a bunch of free $15 watches."

Kris Huseby: That would be gangster.

Michael Beltrán: It would just be great and I think it would be funny. I don't know. I see it as so comical, you know, because I'd much rather just build my business on like good moral foundation and good food and good experience and good service and all that stuff ... than worry about, you know, Instagram likes or whatever the fuck it may be.

Kris Huseby: And fucking sparklers.

Michael Beltrán: Sparklers and shit like that. So I don't know. It's, um, I think that that conversation always has a lot to do with the mental aspect of our job because it ... for some reason people want it so bad, you know, people want to be accepted so bad. Went on the other side. I'm just like, "Why?" I'd much rather be the guy that's on the outside because that's me, that's like, I'm not in this big circle of just like a bunch of people patting each other on the back. I want to be on the outside being like, "Well, he's doing something different." Jeremy Fox is a great example of that, you know? His change, which we'll talk about in our next episode of like wellness in and change and all that stuff. How he went from just working 20 hours a day and being the chef at Manresa and Ubintu and all that stuff. And just like, really, you know, like driving himself into a grave is basically the way that he put it to now being like, "Well I need to take care of myself and I need to stop caring about like, you know, being Bon Aptetit's best new chef." That's cool. Or Food & Wine's best new chef. Or being mentioned by this publication or winning a Beard award or whatever. He was like, "I just want to put out great food and still be okay." You know? And that's why I find his journey and his food so I guess inspirational. And I find it pretty incredible. So I think that's a good place to like leave this episode. And then we're gonna we're gonna wrap this one up. What do you think?

Kris Huseby: Yeah, I agree.

Michael Beltrán: Nick, what do you got?

Nicolás A. Jiménez: So I'm going to say, I mean people might be coming to the end of this and want to learn more about you and so you do, so let's, let's take a plug minute here.

Michael Beltrán: Oh, I want to, here's, here's the thing. Plug things. The things you want to plug right? You could plug a happy hour at Chug's.

Kris Huseby: Yeah. I think happy hour chunks to have yard checks is heavily something I want to plug. Uh, if you need a, if you need running shoes in the Miami area, I'm gonna thoroughly recommend footwork's in south Miami. It's across the street from Barnes and noble. They've been there 45 years. Yeah. And uh, yeah, they'll put you on a treadmill, a videotape your gait, analyze youe gait.

Michael Beltrán: They put me on there.

Kris Huseby: Yeah. Look at Mike now. I mean, I don't want to claim all the responsibility for it, but that's pretty much all us. Like if he wouldn't have come in and got him on that treadmill, he'd, I mean, who knows?

Michael Beltrán: So be a little heavy. I think so.

Kris Huseby: I would definitely plug that. I would like to plug in general the cannabis community in Florida. I think there's a lot of really amazing things happening with a medical cannabis and I thoroughly recommend that everybody look into it.

Nicolás A. Jiménez: Is that something we're going to get into in this next one? Just to tease that like, yeah, come back for the next episode...

Michael Beltrán: On the next episode of Pan Con Podcast, Kris Huseby gets into cannabis

Kris Huseby: And wellness

Michael Beltrán: Health, wellness and cannabis. I like that.

Nicolás A. Jiménez: I think we just wrote the title for the next step. Yeah, stay tuned.

Nicolás Antonio Jiménez is the founder of DADE. When he's not working on this site, he's the senior editor of Cigar Snob Magazine, an internationally distributed lifestyle magazine.
Nick is also a Miami native, Cuban-American, and graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism.