Devan Cameron

Founder of Braised & Deglazed

Devan Cameron is a trained chef with over 15 years of experience in the hospitality industry in Canada, Italy, France and now the Netherlands. He grew up in Canada with a passion for cooking at an early age and attended a 3-year program at George Brown College for Hospitality Management. While attending the college he traveled to Italy to work in Michelin-starred Osteria D’el Vicario and also attended La Scuola Internzionale di Cucina Italiana.

Upon returning to Canada, he worked in some of Toronto’s top restaurants including Woodlot and One Restaurant and was trusted to cook for celebrities such as Madonna, Drake, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Claire Danes, Gerrard Butler, Gordon Ramsay and more.

Later he moved to Paris, France to continue his craft of cooking and landed a job at Michelin-starred Frenchie Restaurant. During his stay of almost two years, he met his girlfriend and later followed her to the beautiful city of Maastricht, the Netherlands, where he now lives.

After Covid-19 forced his restaurant to minimal opening hours, he used this extra time to build his online side-hustle. His business, Braised & Deglazed, is a food-focused online resource with chef-curated recipes, guides and how-to’s aimed to help and inspire the home cook.

Upon returning to Canada, Devan worked in some of Toronto’s top restaurants including Woodlot and One Restaurant and was trusted to cook for celebrities such as Madonna, Drake, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Claire Danes, Gerrard Butler, Gordon Ramsay and more.

Where did the idea for Braised & Deglazed come from?

After years of working long hours in restaurants, I started to look for something with a better work/life balance. I knew I was still very passionate about cooking and my friends and family started asking me for recipes. I got fed up with seeing internet recipes rank high on google that were poorly made and sometimes even dangerous. I knew I could do a better job than what was out there.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

Since COVID-19 forced our restaurant to close, I don’t really have a normal day anymore. But here’s how my days look now with restaurants being open for take-out only…

I wake up at 6:30 am and make a very strong coffee. I check my social media handles and scan through e-mails to answer any questions related to my website.

Once the caffeine starts to bring me back to life, I do a quick workout, shower and have breakfast with my girlfriend. I then tackle the massive amount of work I have planned for my blog which can be anything from photo editing to writing, to social media scheduling, to keyword research and planning out the workflow for the month. I then go to my restaurant job and prepare the take-out orders for the day and finish around 6 pm.

After work, I head home on my bike and maybe go for a jog with my girlfriend. After that, we eat dinner and I usually spend an hour on website stuff. After that, we watch a little Netflix, maybe have a drink and call it a day.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Meticulously writing everything down as it comes to me. I then check the recipe/article with Ahrefs to see if it’s worth my time. If it is, I immediately begin testing the recipe. I then plug this idea into my calendar weeks before I want it finished. I test the recipe multiple times, take the photos, edit them and begin writing the recipe whenever I find free time. I usually finish the articles on my weekends.

What’s one trend that excites you?

I’m pretty excited about food technology and food sustainability. This can be anything from lab-grown meat to new vegan versions of food or just any new flavour/technology that makes food more sustainable. Although I’m not vegan I love making vegan dishes because I think there’s a real challenge there. Any chef can add tons of butter to a dish to make it delicious but making food tasty without meat and dairy is a real challenge.

I really like what the team at the Noma test kitchen is doing to find new flavours and ways of making food more delicious. They’re experimenting with fermenting non-conventional ingredients and have come up with some insanely delicious things. I just love the idea that there are still so many tasty things waiting to be discovered.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Self-motivation and fear of failure. For my dreams to come true I know I have to work very hard to achieve them. Working in the restaurant industry has taught me how important hard work is for success.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Stress and worry less. I was overly concerned about the future and it would have been a lot easier if my future self came to tell me that life would still be great after age 30.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Radiohead is overrated.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Workout. I know it’s not always an exciting thought but it has always helped me manage my stress. Restaurant life is almost always highly stressful work and this is especially true for high-priced, fine dining establishments. Having a way to manage the stress effectively is the only way you’ll survive the long run in this business.
I used to work-out at the gym but with everything locked down due to Covid, that was no longer an option. I never really liked jogging but my girlfriend’s love for it rubbed off on me enough for me to give it a try. It’s really been a saviour for me during this lockdown and most importantly, it helps me stay positive and mentally fit. I stepped out of my comfort zone and I was rewarded with a new hobby.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Quality over quantity. I’d rather put twice as much effort into one article instead of pumping out two that are less good. It’s hard to measure this accurately in the short term but I’m confident it’ll pay off in the long run. I don’t want to look back at something I did in the past and think “Oh yeah, I really rushed that, I should have spent more time on that”.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I had an older website before which wasn’t very focused. It wasn’t doing very well so I reached out to some other successful bloggers in my niche for help. I got some very good advice on branding, layout and site speed and went back to the drawing board. After that, Braised & Deglazed was born. There were a lot of early mornings and long days spent updating all of the old content from the site, but in the end, I couldn’t be happier with my new site.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I think whoever invents a good vegan, melty mozzarella cheese substitute will be rolling in money. Cheese is what vegans miss most, and the demand for vegan food is still increasing. Vegan cheese does exist, but it’s nowhere near the same level of quality as regular fresh mozzarella. I think there’s a lot of fast-food chains that would pay a lot of money for this.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I spent about $100 for a month of Ahrefs and this has helped me a lot. It’s amazing what you can learn just from analyzing other successful websites.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

I’m pretty impressed with what you can do with Canva. I use the free version for making custom images and quickly adding text to images. Its quick, drag-and-drop style format is super easy to use.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I really liked the $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau. It’s a great confidence booster for any entrepreneur looking to start something on a small budget.

What is your favorite quote?

“Techniques are not the most difficult to teach. The attitudes chefs take are much more important.”
– Alain Ducasse

Key Learnings:

  • If you want it, work hard for it. Nobody will give anything to you.
  • The right attitude is just as important as your skillset.
  • Ahrefs is expensive but pretty useful, even if just for one month.
  • If you want to be rich, figure out how to make a really good vegan cheese.
  • $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau is a great book for any aspiring entrepreneur.