Karen V Davison is a professional chef and culinary blogger from Dallas, Texas. She is a Texas woman through and through, having been born in Dallas, attended culinary school in Fort Worth, and now living back in Dallas.
Karen V Davison’s interest in the culinary arts began at a young age. She could spend hours watching her mother and grandmother cooking in their kitchen and wanted to learn everything about it. Her passion for cooking never let up, which led to her enrolling at the Culinary School of Fort Worth, a nationally accredited culinary institution.
After graduating, Karen V Davison took several odd jobs in various casual or fast food restaurants in the area. Slowly, she worked her way up the ladder, going from associate chef to sous chef, and finally to head chef.
Currently, Karen V Davison is living in Dallas, Texas and working as a professional chef at one of the best fine dining restaurants in the city. On the side, she is also a successful blogger, with her very own culinary blog where she shares recipes and cooking tips with her many followers.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
I had been dreaming about what my own restaurant would be like since I was a little girl. I even used to play chef with my family, where I would dress up in an apron and chef’s hat, make dinner (with help from my mother), and serve my family their food at the table. As I grew up and my dream of becoming a professional chef became a reality, I knew that I wanted a restaurant with a nostalgic feel that captured what it was like to be a young child dreaming about becoming a chef. It’s out of that feeling and my desire to replicate that feeling in the form of cuisine and atmosphere that the idea for my restaurant came about.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My days are busy, to say the least. As a professional chef, you’re constantly thinking about what you’re going to cook, how you’re going to cook it, how busy the restaurant will be, and more, even when you’re not actually at the restaurant. My restaurant is a dinner establishment, so I have my mornings and early afternoons off. I start by going for a walk with my dog and grabbing a coffee. Mid-morning, I do a bit of prep for the day ahead. I use the early afternoon to relax, whether that takes the form of reading a book, watching something on Netflix, or napping. Finally, around 3:30 p.m. I head to the restaurant and start getting everything ready for opening. From there, it’s a little bit of a blur, but there is definitely lots of cooking involved!
How do you bring ideas to life?
For me, inspiration can come from anywhere. Travel, art, movies, and music can all lead to an idea for a new dish or dining experience. I’m also lucky because eating food often helps me come up with ideas. If I’m having some sort of creative block, I will often invite a friend to eat out with me at a restaurant I’ve never been to before. Tasting different flavors and reading through different menus helps me get inspired and visualize what dishes will and won’t work on my own menu.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I love the new trend of fast-casual dining. I have worked at many fine dining restaurants, which I love, but fast-casual is a new, slightly more upscale way of eating out somewhere that is inexpensive but not a fast food restaurant. It’s much more affordable and accessible, yet still offers quality food. I think all restaurants should have a fast-casual outpost.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I set aside time for myself. It’s easy to make your whole life about your business as an entrepreneur. But at least for me, this just wasn’t working. I was stressed all the time and forgot how to relax and have fun in my personal life. Now, I wake up each morning and have a routine before I go to work that really allows me to de-stress and enjoy my downtime.
What advice would you give your younger self?
If you take it slow and gain experience, you’ll find success.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
The culinary industry is one of the most vital industries in America. We feed people and after all, food is a necessity in life. But more than that, restaurant owners provide places for people to gather, celebrate, and laugh. It’s really an honor to be in this industry.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Exercise regularly! I am not someone who is naturally athletic, but going for a jog or even doing yoga has worked wonders for my stress levels. If you work in an even remotely stressful industry, exercise is key.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Social media has been huge for my restaurant. A solid social media presence, especially on Instagram, can make or break a business nowadays. Even if you know nothing about social media yourself, hire someone who does. Posting content regularly and taking beautiful photos of your product or service (in my case, of our dishes), has the potential to bring in tons of new customers.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I opened a restaurant about 10 years ago and it failed. It was an incredibly hard time for me professionally, but I got through it and I wouldn’t be where I am today without that experience. With time, I’ve come to realize exactly why that restaurant was unsuccessful and I will make sure I never repeat those mistakes again.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I love the idea of home cooks opening up their own businesses from their kitchen. Thanks to social media and food delivery platforms, the culinary industry is now open to more than just professionally trained chefs.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently went for dinner at Lucia, a relatively new, talked-about Italian restaurant in Dallas, Texas, and I have to say it was one of the most delicious meals of my life.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
My team and I use Slack to communicate and it has made a huge difference. It keeps us all connected, but since it’s an app separate from our personal emails or texts, it also helps us all set boundaries.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
As a chef, I’m going to have to pick a cookbook here. It has to be Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. This cookbook is absolutely iconic and taught me the basics of cooking, not to mention that it’s packed with some of the most delicious recipes known to man. I don’t know where I’d be without it.
What is your favorite quote?
Julia Child once said, “Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.” This is advice I’ve taken to heart and try to live my life by.
- Chefs lead busy lives and work long hours
- It’s important to relax and enjoy the time you have outside of work
- Inspiration can strike anywhere, from a movie to a meal
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.