Off the Record Podcast: Eps 11 – Chef Susie Jimenez

Scott & Michelle welcome Chef Susie Jimenez to Off the Record Podcast. She is as talented as she is funny and energetic. She’s a Chef to the stars, which she dishes in this episode. 

Susie was the runner-up to Season 7 of Food Network “Star” and lost to an idiot. But she’s doing great, don’t worry about that. She is a Hustler with a capital “H” and tells all about how she got to be a Chef to the biggest celebs in Aspen and beyond.

Susie was drinking wine from Usual winery out of California. 

Off the Record Podcast – Episode 11 – Transcript


Susie Jimenez: That’s why I like wild game. ‘Cause it’s got this little different texture, a little swag to it, and I’m like, “Oh, I love that.” And if you don’t like it, if you’re trying to disguise it, then don’t eat it.

Intro: Good day and welcome to Off the Record, you’ll find us at the intersection of interesting ideas and great pairings. It all tastes good when these two cook it up. So let’s listen in to the Sporting Chef Scott Leysath and outdoor industry insider Michelle Scheuermann, as they talk wild game, wine and anything else that comes to mind. Time to sample and sip our way through the best part of the day as we go off the record with The Sporting Chef and Michelle.

Scott Leysath: Alright, welcome to Off the Record. A very special Off the Record with one of my favorite people in the universe, Susie Jimenez. Now…

Susie: Yaay!

Scott: I met… Susie, how long have you been on The Sporting Chef Show? It’s been a long time, right?

Susie: Long time. But let’s not talk about how long, ’cause then you gonna start making you feel old. Okay. [laughter]

Michelle Scheuermann: But you look great.

Susie: You know what, Botox does wonders.

Scott: So Susie was runner-up season 7 of Food Network Star, she lost to that douchebag sandwich guy. And…

Michelle: What’s he doing?

Scott: Who cares? And I’ve been a big Susie fan ever since. I love her spirit. Everybody loves what she does on The Sporting Chef Show. I love when she talks about her mom and her mom’s recipes, and she’s high energy and… Susie, Susie, Susie what are you doing? Where are you and what are you up to?

Susie: Well, you know, today is what, September…

Scott: Eighth.

Susie: Eighth, right? We’re like right after Labor Day right around there and it is snowing. We have a full-on blizzard outside my house, and well, as much as it’s ruining all my pretty little flowers and stuff like that, I’m gonna shut up about it because there’s fires everywhere, and the snow is definitely helping calm down the storm, right? But yeah, it’s snowing, I have a fire behind me.

Michelle: Looks great.

Susie: I have warm Uggs on my feet. I got a sweater and I just took off my beanie and you guys are probably in California going, “You look like a loca crazy person.”

Scott: Well, we’re still on fire here in California, and when I flew in yesterday afternoon, you could smell smoke in the plane as you were coming into Sacramento, it’s the standard, California is on fire, time of the year.

Michelle: It’s so sad.

Susie: You guys are all… Over there.

Scott: Yeah, it’s nuts. I don’t know that there’s a solution because it doesn’t rain all summer, as you know, since you grew up in the Central Valley there and it’s not good. But I wanna hear more about what Susie’s up to these days because you and I have done the Aspen Food and Wine thing a couple of years, and did you do that this… Well, I guess there wasn’t an Aspen Food and Wine this year, was there?

Susie: COVID ruined that one too. We all know that COVID is ruining a lot of things. It’s not allowing us to be around our families and hug people and just do what we want to normally do. You and I as chefs we’re like, “Oh, food brings people together,” like memories and all this good stuff, and right now you’re kind of like, I’m doing Zoom cooking classes and I’m like, “Touch it and tell me how soft it is.” And they’re like, “How soft?” [laughter] You’re just like, I don’t know how to describe like is…

Michelle: Is your soft like my soft. [laughter]

Susie: I have a lady that I drop off when I do groceries and prepared meals, and she won’t even let me in her house. Like she… I can’t even ring her doorbell ’cause I’m contaminating her doorbell. I have to leave the food outside and text her and go, “The food is outside.” And there’s people that are that freaked out and then you got the people, that are like, “You know, get me a bottle of champagne, put on a mask, and you do whatever you want.” So it’s a weird thing, but we have to respect people’s opinion and people’s… Whatever makes them happy and whatever makes them feel safe. So it’s weird, it’s def…

Scott: Well and one of the many things you do is to cook for celebrity types there in Aspen. You got any dirt on any of these people you wanna share it with our people?

Michelle: Yeah, gossip. Gossip.

Susie: You know what, I’m gonna save that for the book. [laughter]

Scott: Okay, well, I know that you cook for Kevin Hart…

Susie: I do.

Scott: On a regular basis. That’s probably a lot of fun, right?

Susie: Yeah, I cooked for him for about four seasons now. He’s super funny. I mean look, I get up at 6:00 AM, go cook him breakfast, and the guy wants to start doing jokes, and pulling pranks on his family and I’m like, “Dude, let me have two more cups of coffee and then I’m there with you.” [laughter] But, it’s like he’s got even more energy than me, I’m like, “Whoa, just got topped. Done. Dropped the mic. There goes Kevin Hart, he’s on stage, like 24-7.” But he’s so nice, he’s so easy. And he’s a CrossFitter like me, so I get it. He’s over there doing CrossFit and eating egg white omelets and blah, blah, blah. But then, like I gave my boyfriend, I made some drinks and that guy can drink some tequila, man. [laughter]

Susie: Like tequila, all day long. The cheap stuff that we get to make margaritas, he’s like, “I don’t even put that near my face, you gimme the good stuff.” [chuckle]

Michelle: Can you tell the difference between…

Susie: I mean, you can tell the difference if you have it on the rocks, but when you mix it, you’re just kind of like…

Michelle: Right, exactly.

Susie: Everyone to their own. I don’t know, but he’s a handful. He’s so much fun though. I’ve never had a bad experience with him. But Eniko, his wife, is about to have a baby, so we’re not gonna see him this season. So probably…

Michelle: Oh, bummer. How do you get a gig like that? How does that come together?

Susie: Well, you gotta be Chef Susie Jimenez. [laughter] You gotta have this card that says, “I’m Chef Susie,” and then you show it to them, and they’re like, boom. Now, honestly, I’ve lived in Aspen for over 20 years, and let me tell you about being a hustler in this town. There’s so many chefs, there’s so many rich people, there’s so many celebrities. You’re fighting the battle with other chefs to be the chef that everybody wants. And I’m a hustler, man, I go to the concierge, to the property managers, I see their managers on the streets, and I just go up to them, “Hey, I’m Chef Susie.” But I also have a scratch and sniff business card, so I…

Michelle: No way.

Susie: Yeah, and I always give people, I’m like, “Look, here’s my business card. If you ever need a chef.” And they’re like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah.” I go, “Before you walk away,” I scratch it and stick it in their face, and they’re like, “Oh my God, this lady is crazy.” And all of a sudden, they open up their purses or wallets and it smells like…

Michelle: They smell it again, yeah.

Susie: And they’re like, “That crazy girl, we’re gonna call her.” And then you just do this trickle event where you do a good job and it’s word-of-mouth. 20 years now, people are like, “Yeah, you know the chef with the rosemary-scented cards?” And I’m like, “That’s me.” [laughter]

Michelle: It’s all about hustling.

Susie: Yes.

Scott: I was gonna ask what the aroma was, and it’s rosemary. That’s good.

Susie: I had them send me all these samples, like cilantro with limes and… No, they all smell like poop, man. Rosemary was the only that even stood a chance. I’m like, “I’ll stick to rosemary.” So yeah, it’s good…

Scott: You’ve also done some stuff with some sports celebrities as well? You wanna name some names?

Susie: Yeah, you know what? Dwight Howard was one of my favorites. I should send you the photo. I look like one of his kids, so I posted a picture of him and I tried to put my hand around him, and my hand… I’m so short that my hand went around his butt. And I was like, “Oh my God,” and it went up higher. He is so tall, and he was, what, 10 years younger than I was? He tried to get me to move to Atlanta, Georgia, and I’m like, “Yeah, I’m good, I’m good. Aspen sounds like the place to stay.” I’ve had…

Gabe: Tell them about Bozzy.

Susie: Oh yeah, we had Bozzy, the singer, the little pop singer, he was amazing. He cracked me up, because we cooked… He’s vegetarian and we cooked him this amazing vegetarian meal, and then all of a sudden, in the middle of the dinner, he decides that he wanted to eat beef tenderloin, and I’m like, “What?”

Michelle: What? [chuckle]

Susie: Yeah, I was like, “I’m not really sure if that… ” But I made a joke, I’m like, “Oh, this is vegan.” And he was like, “I’ve already drank a couple of bottles of wine.” And he started eating the beef, and I’m like, “Oh, I didn’t actually… Alright, whatever.” [laughter]

Scott: And now, you’re about to start on a whole new deal there. You’re gonna be traveling. You’re moving to Dallas area, right?

Susie: Yeah, well, look, we are moving to Dallas here soon, and we’re gonna be working with the Kansas City Chief owners, the Hunt family. I’ve been working with them for two years now, and COVID obviously happened. And let’s talk about the good things about COVID, I guess. And then COVID happened, and they said, “We would love to have you full-time, and your boyfriend Gabe, and move to Dallas, and move back to Aspen, and go to Kansas City to the games, and we’re gonna get a place in Cabo, and blah, blah.” And I’m like, “Well… “

Michelle: What? Wow.

Susie: I never would have done that before. My business is doing so well, I wouldn’t have done that, but I said, “You know what? They’re a good family… “

Michelle: Interesting.

Susie: Oh, they’re so respectful. You think outside the box with them, so I said, “Why not? This will be a… “

Michelle: So, if they said this to you in, last fall, you would’ve said no?

Susie: Probably, yeah…

Michelle: Because things were going so well in Aspen, but because COVID…

Susie: Yeah, they still are. Look, I went from being a private chef by myself to now having four chefs underneath me.

Michelle: Oh, I didn’t know that.

Susie: Yeah, to having a property management company, a housekeeping management, grocery shopping, I’m now chef concierge. I have these six businesses that I just built, and I’m doing so well. But it’s like I told Gabe, they’re a great family, they’re respectful, they treat so great. This is a time that you want to pair yourself up with a really great family and see what happens. But the more and more we work for them, the more I’m like, “Yeah.” They’re so active, they’re so happy all the time, they’re… [laughter] If they mistreated me and called me names, I’d be like, “Okay, listen to me… “

Michelle: Yeah, it’s a different story, right.

Susie: You owe me $5000 every time you call me a bad name. [laughter]

Scott: Well, they can afford that.

Michelle: Yeah.

Susie: As long as they can afford it, I don’t care. [laughter]

Scott: What are you… Susie, what are you drinking? It looks like something else. What are you drinking?

Susie: Well, I’m what you call a bubble beep beep, so I’m drinking bubbles.

Scott: Yes. [chuckle] I’ve had some bubbles.

Michelle: I don’t know that term, bubble beep beep. I don’t know… [laughter]

Susie: I can’t say the word, I don’t know if people are gonna be offended and all. But I love bubbles. You’ll always see me with a glass… I even go to CrossFit, and there’s this girl that doesn’t even know my name, she calls me Bubbles. I saw her the other day, we’re taking a hike, she goes, “Bubbles!” And I’m like, “You really don’t know my name.” She’s like… [laughter] Yeah, and she’s like, “You’re Bubbles, right?” And I’m like, “Geez, Susie, yeah sure, Susie the bubble whore, whatever.” [laughter]

Scott: And Michelle, last summer, I would… I had to come back… I think it was last summer, I’d just come back from a trip. And Susie and Gabe were at my house already, with my wife, and I think they were about four bottles of champagne into the deal before I got there, so…

Michelle: Wow, nice.

Scott: They had put in a pretty good shift, and then we just kept it going, and so, yes, she’s the bubbly whatever.

Susie: I just can’t help myself.

Michelle: Well, what’s your favorite brand?

Susie: It’s funny enough, because I’ve been trying a lot of different ones, because a lot of people are like… I’m sorry it doesn’t matter… To me, it’s not about the brand, it’s about what I like, and I’m not a big Prosecco girl because it’s too sweet for me, but I went to France and I got real bubbles, and I was like, “Oh my God, I’m gonna gain so much weight.” [chuckle] But like, this one is actually not so bad… What is this one called? It is Usual.

Michelle: Made out of where? Here?

Susie: Well, this is like I told you guys, right? So, I was on Facebook and I’m like la la, oh fun fun, drinking drinking drinking, got a little drunk…

Scott: It can happen.

Susie: Next time you know it, I get a big case of these little bottles of champagne, and I said, “Gabe, why did I buy 24 bottles of bubbles?” He goes, woman, you need to stop drinking and being on the computer, because you bought them all, but I’m down to my last one, out of 24, and I bought this like two weeks ago.

Michelle: Shut up.

Scott: Well, that’s good, that’s less that you have to pack to Dallas. That’s one less thing, right?

Michelle: That’s true, yeah.

Susie: That was my point exactly. I was like, “You know what, I’m not taking this with me. You gotta drink it, and then I’m really drunk and I’m drunk…

Michelle: I wanna look this up, Usual.

Susie: Usual, well once you look this up on Facebook, forget about it… It’s gonna come up and you’re gonna be like, no, I don’t want anymore.

Gabe: It’s bottled by Vinebox. That’s what you wanna go to, Vinebox, Inc.

Michelle: Oh, Okay. Alright.

Susie: I got…

Gabe: Scott, ask her about John Elway.

Susie: Oh yes.

Michelle: Ya, what about John Elway?

Susie: John Elway, he rented this beautiful house here in Starwood, and his daughter was getting married and he says, “I need a chef.” And I mean… The guy that hired me said, “Oh, Mr. Elway, Mr. Elway.” And I’m thinking, it’s gotta be John Elway. So I asked him, “Is it the Elway?” And he goes, yeah. And we walked in there, and this guy was drinking tequila, like it was going out of style. Like, we made an amazing meal for them. But what… What made me laugh about it, he’s so down to earth, right. The next morning we show up after we cater this big party, and he’s so hungover and Gabe is over there trying to give him black coffee, and he wakes up and his little granddaughter, she’s so little, puts a tiara and he’s sticking up to the side, and he’s sitting there with his black coffee and I just looked at him and I go, “You know John, if I took a picture of you right now, I’d be a very rich girl.” And he was, whatever… But you could tell he was in pain. But we got to cook some really good stuff for Fourth of July. I mean, I’ve been very lucky enough to cook… I mean look it… Antonio Banderas. When I started working for him, I thought Zorro was gonna come out, right? Like… Come out, he was gonna be like, Susie, I take you all the way to the summer. Whatever I thought was gonna happen, right. He came out in a pair of black pajamas, like nothing, and I looked at him, I’m like, “No, where’s Zorro.”

Michelle: Right, you burst my bubble, I had this whole dream… Yeah. [chuckle]

Susie: He’s just as short as I am, so you think he… I’m five two and a half. I was like…

Michelle: Oh, my.

Susie: I was like, Yeah, my, my…

Michelle: Sometimes the dream is better than reality, man. [chuckle]

Susie: You know what… But it was, it’s just that you think you’re gonna meet people and they’re gonna be a certain way or look a certain way, and then you meet them and you’re like, aww. But at the end of the day we’re all just, normal. When people meet me, they’re like, “Man, Susie is hotter than I thought she was gonna be.” I’m like, you’re damn right. [laughter]

Michelle: Right, right. You’re like, it’s the….

Scott: How is it possible that she could be hotter?

Susie: What’s that?

Scott: How is it possible that Susie could be hotter than we thought she was, and here she is, I know.

Susie: Just a humble woman, I tell ya.

Michelle: Yeah, I love it.

Scott: Well now, and Susie, I’m not sure we’re gonna be able to get you on The Sporting Chef Show next year. It’s really, I don’t know that we can…

Michelle: Well can she film from the Hunt’s kitchen?

Susie: Yes.

Scott: I know, I wanted to do that… I feel we may have a great place to do it. Right now, we have to shoot 18 shows in 16 weeks. That’s what I’ve gotta get done before the end of the year.

Susie: You know what I’m thinking we should do, Chef Scott, is I think that I should try to like maybe go to one of the Kansas City Chiefs live games and do like a big Camp Chef situation from like the parking lot.

Scott: That’s a great idea.

Michelle: A meeting with Susie.

Scott: We can make that happen. We can do that… We can definitely make that happen. We can get Brooks there, we can get Camp Chef there, I’d love that idea.

Michelle: That’s a great idea.

Gabe: Plus too they own FC Dallas as well. The MLS team, so they do that top?

Susie: Yeah, so, but there’s… They have a huge backyard. The place that we live off overlooks their amazing pool, so I can still be like, guys, I’m in Dallas, we got a pool party, we’re still camping out, we’re cooking ox.

Michelle: We’re making tapas… [chuckle]

Susie: Uh huh. But, you know what I mean? We still have to get creative with the situation, there’s still a way to be able to do all this stuff. And the good thing is, you know that, Gabe is there and he knows all these camera situations, so he can do some cool stuff with it too. But nothing is gonna stop us from showing people how to cook, we still have to get creative, and COVID has done nothing but made us more creative, right? At least it has for…

Scott: We’ll work… We’ll figure out how to make that work, ’cause I can’t imagine a season of Sporting Chef without you being on there.

Susie: That would suck.

Scott: People, right now you’re on… People are voting for you on… I don’t know if you saw that thing I sent you about the Venison Torta, and make sure you share that with people so they can vote for you.

Michelle: Yeah, share it on your social Susie.

Susie: Hey Scott, I love it. He says, Venison in Torta… It’s Venison in Torta.

Scott: Yeah, whatever. I’m still not going to have the attitude.

Susie: Gabe cracks up because he’ll sit there and say things to me like, I’m not sure, like a burrito or… He’ll say things like that, and I’m like, “It’s a burrito.”And he’s like, “What in the world?”

Scott: Yeah, but you know, as a non-Hispanic type person, when you’re just talking about normal things, and then when you say burrito, you say burrito it’s like… It doesn’t sound quite right.

Susie: Well yes, look at… People said this to me many times, Susie you’re like the Giada of Mexican food. You’re like, “Hey, if you guys want I can make some tacos, with some salsa.”

Scott: Right.

Susie: I’m like, “Oh man, I sound like this?” They’re like, “Yeah, that’s exactly what you sound like.” I’m like, “Alright. Well, whatever.”

Michelle: Just own it. Yeah.

Susie: Yeah. I’m scared of my mom if I said, “Oh, you just take a tortilla,” she’d be like, “Que dijistes? Dijistes una tortilla? Es tortilla. It’s tortilla.”  That’s enough to scare me for years, so you know what, no way… You don’t mess up your Spanish, that’s for sure. [laughter]

Scott: And I met your mom, and was it your sisters that I met at Ramekins in Sonoma?

Susie: Yeah, and one of them got really drunk, the oldest one, she got real drunk. So she doesn’t drink a lot, right? But she’s the type of person that doesn’t want anything to go to waste, so when my sister Leti was going through breast cancer and chemo, so she couldn’t drink, and then my mom doesn’t drink, and then my sister Christina was driving, so she’s a designated driver. So my sister’s like, “Well, I gotta drink all their wine, it can’t go to waste.” So she started pounding, and pounding, and pounding, next thing we know it, she’s drunk.

Michelle: Are you serious?

Susie: Yup. And I’m over there drinking and she’s like, “Susie, I don’t know how you drink. I don’t feel good.” I’m like, “Well, I’m a pro.” [chuckle]

Michelle: You gotta build up. That’s one thing COVID has done, is build up all of our tolerances to alcohol. So [laughter]..

Susie: Michelle, how much are you drinking these days?

Michelle: Before COVID, I was probably drinking twice a week. And during COVID, it was every day.


Susie: I like how you hesitated.

Michelle: Now, I’m trying to ramp back down and trying to do like three or four days a week.

Susie: Yeah. I’m the same. I think I’ve drank every single day, and whether it’s red wine, champagne, vodka, something, but, but what I did tell Gabe is once we get to Dallas, a good thing is it’s a new place, it’s new habits, it’s new everything. We were like, “Look, it’s an opportunity to go there and get back into CrossFit and get back into this mindset of cooking and being healthy and drinking twice a week,” I guess. I don’t know, we’ll see what happens. It’ll be different, for sure. But I’m going, “What is normal,” right? What is normal?

Scott: Well, Susie, I don’t think you having a drink every day is all that unusual, is it?

Susie: Look at it, my mom doesn’t drink. If she says, “Mija, I don’t like you drinking that much, it’s not good for you. It just, I feel bad. I feel like you’re an alcoholic,” and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And I said to her, “Look, Mom, I’m gonna explain this to you, and I’m gonna explain it once. First of all, I’m a grown-ass 41-year-old woman, I can do whatever I want. Two, I have a lot of businesses. I’m busy, I work every single day, I got my shit together. I pay my bills, I make money, I take care of myself, I get Botox. I do my hair and I do my makeup, and I fold my laundry, I do my bed every morning.” So I’m a pretty good functional alcoholic, the way I see it.


Susie: If I owed her money and I didn’t have a job, and I look like absolute hell, like, “Okay, we got issues, right?” But that’s not the case. So until… Please, you gotta leave me alone.” Done and done. [laughter]

Scott: Alright, so Susie, we’ve cooked a whole bunch. Tell me about… Give me your favorite wild game recipe, and I know that’s a tough question, ’cause you probably have a zillion of them, but right off the top of your head, what comes to mind?

Susie: Scott, I think that I like, ’cause wild game, people tend to over-think too much. I like the simple things. I love, you just talked about the torta. I love that. But I also, I love just a nice crunchy tostada, with good cold, wild game, almost like birria and a nice cabbage slaw on top of it, because it’s like this crunchy bean, this rich, nice spiced meat, and this nice refreshing cabbage slaw on top of it with some good spicy tomatillo sauce. That’s my go-to thing. Yeah, love it.

Scott: And what would you say are some of the bigger mistakes that people make when they’re cooking wild game, ’cause I know you’ve cooked a bunch of it.

Susie: Well, I think I still give people a lot of tips and stuff, but they over-think it. They try to do too much, they over-marinate, they cut it the wrong way, they go, “Oh, what if we cook it this way, and then we pull it out and then we cook it again,” and you’re like, you’re doing too much. Sometimes simplicity is the way to go with a good sauce on the side. I just, obviously my friends were about to go into this hunting season, and they’d ask me, “What should I do?” I go, “Look. Just get that big elk, or whatever you’re going for, chop it up, and just don’t overdo it. Just have enough shredded meat, ground beef, cubes and stuff, so that you can do a lot of things. Don’t start marinating and doing all this crazy stuff with it. Just take care of it as you go.” But people just do too much. I had one friend, kid you not, he’d do it one way, so he would try to smoke it, then he’d pull it all off, put sauce in it, and then cook it, slow cook it and do something else, and by the time he fed it to us, we all had diarrhea, ’cause it was just like, “Woah… “


Susie: hot, cold, hot, cold, hot, cold, and you’re just… And then we’d all go home and we’d all be so sick and we’re like, “Why did he ruin it?” So keep it simple. It’s fine to keep it simple and make sauces on the side.

Michelle: Well, why do you think people think that, or like that? Now, is it because of social media? Are they seeing what you guys are doing, chefs are doing, they’re like, “Oh, I need to top that. I need to have some… I need to have a cool plate for my Instagram photo.”

Susie: You said it. You just said it. People wanna do something different that hasn’t been done before, and look it. You can still do that, but you can’t reinvent something that’s already invented. Yes, you can add your own twist to it, like the space that everybody makes sauce in a different way, but I just think that people really just try to be like, “I wanna be over the top,” and then you’re just,  “Come on. It’s fine, but it’s okay to keep it simple too.” And then you got people that really don’t know the dynamic of cooking and they’re just like, “Oh, it’s wild game. It should be totally different than beef.” And you’re like, “No, it really doesn’t.”  I had a friend too, that started making foams, when all that stuff was taking place, they were like, “Oh, and my chemistry,” blah, blah, blah, and they’d make some Sriracha foam and put it on top of your taco and you’re like, “Why? Tell me why you felt the need to even put the stupid foam on it? Just rock some Sriracha on it.”


Michelle: It’s already good in its original form, is the moral of the story.

Susie: Yeah, people just need to just keep it alone. Just keep it simple and just stick to what you know. If you don’t know how to do something… Obviously, me and Chef Scott are here for you, but don’t try to sit and be like, “Oh, let me just try to do something that’s never been done before.” Because it’s probably never been done before because it should not be done that way at all.

Scott: Right, and I think that a lot of people, they go to great lengths, like you say, to make their game not taste like game. And they’ll try and disguise the flavor of game as opposed to just treating the certain parts of an animal the way they should be cooked. There’s more sinewy parts, you wanna go low and slow. Your primal cut… I like them better fast and hot. And let it speak for itself and just cook it properly but you don’t have to bury it. And I’m with you, people try and out-chef the other guy and come up with ingredients that nobody’s ever heard of, and it really… You don’t need to complicate it.

Susie: No. You have to embrace… You’re gonna go have wild game, right? Embrace the flavor of what that brings you. Don’t try to… It’s like saying, “I want a steak but I don’t want it to taste like steak.” Let’s think about the situation. You know what I mean? No, it just doesn’t work. But that’s why I like wild game, ’cause it’s got this little different texture, a little swag to it that I’m like, “Oh, I love that.” And if you don’t like it, if you’re trying to disguise it, then don’t eat it. Don’t mess it up for everybody else, ’cause that’s why people always tell me, “My friend made this for me and it tasted like… It just was horrible,” and I’m like, “That person just ruined that person’s experience.”

Scott: Right. And that’s what I tell people when they tell me they don’t like venison. I say, “Don’t blame the deer, blame whoever mishandled it in the field or cooked it for you.” Because Susie, you and I have changed a lot of minds when it comes to what game tastes like, where people go… They expect it to be off-tasting and gamey, and they go, “Wow, this is great. What did you do to make it taste so good?” And I normally tell them I did a lot less than you normally do.

Susie: Of course, yeah. And I think that’s the model. I still have clients… We had a client that wanted a six-course wild game dinner, and I kept it simple and good, and he was like, “Who would have known?” I’m like, “Yeah, you thought that it was gonna be this crazy… I smoked fresh trout for him. I made mole, but I did the mole on the side. We made amazing stuff for him, but he thought I was gonna have… I don’t know, carcass hanging off of a hook or something. I have no idea. By the time he was done he was like, “Well, alright, this works.” I’m like, “I don’t know what you were thinking that was gonna happen.” But yeah, keep it simple. Yeah, cooking is just… Look, I even told somebody the other day, like, “You can hear how you’re cooking something. It’s got all the senses, the smells, the taste, all of it.” I’ve been doing it for over 20 years. Chef Scott, I don’t know, you’ve been doing it for what? 75 years now?


Scott: Almost.

Susie: But at the end of the day, my point is, no matter how long you’ve been a chef, you’re never gonna know everything about cooking. You can go to any other country, someone’s gonna teach you how to make a different spice mix, a mole, a sauce. It’s just a continuing path of learning and evolving and opening up your mind to those sort of things. So I think as long as people are open to it, we’re good, but yeah, we just have to keep teaching people how to do this right.

Scott: Well, and that’s what I like about the chef community, is they share ideas. We’re about to start a new show that’ll be on Outdoor Channel next year, that’s about the commercial fishing industry in San Diego and all these incredible chefs that are getting fish right off the dock, getting it to their restaurants and doing incredible things with it. But they all know each other and they all share ideas, and there’s nothing cooler when you’re in a town like Aspen or whatever, where you know other chefs, the work’s done, you’re meeting at a bar somewhere at midnight and having a few drinks and talking war stories about who you just cooked for. That’s the chef community to me.

Susie: I think it’s so funny that you say that. Here, Chef Scott, there’s not that many female chefs. I’m one of the feistiest ones here, and I kid you not, I sit there and I meet guys and they’re in the kitchen and they find out that I’m a chef and they’re like, “Oh yeah, well… ” Then they start throwing out names, like, ” Pa ba ba ba ba.” And they think that I’m this dumb little girl that just come out of culinary school and I’m, “Let me just stop you right there before you feel like a damn idiot.” And then once I tell them who I am and who I cook for, they’re like, ” [0:29:29.1] “Uhh” and I’m like, “Yeah, let’s just close the mouth.” Typical, these men here, very rarely do you find… I don’t know how many times I’ve sat around women chefs. Maybe once, twice, that’s it. And usually out of the two times, it’s about 500 rounds of men just trying to out-power me and I’m like, “It ain’t gonna happen. You messed with the wrong girl.” But…

Michelle: Why do you think that is, that there’s only… There’s so few female chefs there in Aspen?

Susie: I don’t know. I really do not know. When I first started working here, I started realizing what a male-dominated town this was in the kitchens and stuff, but girls here think that they can get away with just either marrying a rich guy and being done with it, ’cause most of them have a hobby of cooking. Then they were chefs and now they have hobbies, but I don’t know. But yeah, I like it. I’m very feisty but I’m also very humbled in the sense where I know where I came from and I know what I’m good at. And Gabe was usually the one people… He’s the one telling people, like, “Oh, Susie was on the Food Network, duh duh duh duh duh.” I normally don’t tell people that. But once they find out, they’re like, “What? Why didn’t you say anything?” I’m like, “‘Cause I don’t need to battle with you. I know what I’m about.” But guys here are cocky. Oh my God, they drive me nuts. I just hired a…

Scott: Well, you know Anthony Bourdain, in Kitchen Confidential, he described… He said the reason that we don’t see a lot of female chefs is because kitchens are a lot like pirate ships, and you gotta be pretty thick-skinned if somebody says, “Bring me the, fill in the blank, right now,” and they’re yelling and screaming. You can’t be sensitive about it. It’s just the way it is, and you have to be able to give it right back and go, “Eat shit. It’s on the way, it’ll be 30 seconds.” And that’s the way it works. And if you can’t do that, then you’re gonna go home crying every day.

Susie: Yeah, you know and I never lie. I remember when I first started this whole working in restaurants, I remember the first time I got my ass handed to me and I had tickets everywhere. Finally, I was like, I lost my mind, I didn’t know where I was. Nobody yelled at me, but I needed to go outside for 10 seconds and just take a deep breath and come back. And when I came back, and the chef said, “Where the hell did you go?” and I was, “I’m right on it. I needed 10 seconds.” I remember right then and there that I knew that I was different than other women. I’m more different ’cause it didn’t affect me, I needed 10 seconds to breathe, but I came stronger and more of a badass. It’s funny because when I meet other male chefs, they think I’m gonna be like, “Listen to me you little beep beep beep beep”. But I usually go in there like, “Listen, okay, so you gotta make 200 tartlets.” And they look at me like, “What?” I go, “This is how you’re gonna do it really fast.” And I don’t yell at them. But if they’re like… If they are really behind, I go in there like, “Look, do you need to help?

Susie: I’m gonna have this person help you.” And I learned to have patience. And I learned it doesn’t do me any good to stress out, it doesn’t do me any good to… I’d rather just help and make a solution happen, ’cause at the end of the day, it’s my reputation, not theirs, and then we move forward. But I stress out on myself, when I don’t have something for myself, that’s when… I’m harder on myself than I am on anyone else. But yeah you gotta be thick thick-skinned and you also have to learn 18 hours a days ain’t nothing. You shut up and do it.

Scott: Right? And I’m surprised that Gordon Ramsey hadn’t had his ass kicked by now, I mean…

Michelle: He probably has. We just don’t know it.

Scott: I’m not gonna go into a kitchen and start cussing at people and yelling at them and making fun of them, because I found that that doesn’t really get me any closer to getting food out.

Susie: No, no it really just does push it behind, ’cause then all you have to do is baby them, “so sorry for yelling at you,” whatever, but…

Scott: There’s no time for that. We got food to get out, right?

Susie: Exactly. But the restaurant industry is behind it… I’ve owned one, I’ve worked in them, I’m done with all that. The private chef deal is where I wanna be, I get to be creative, and now I get to have all these people work underneath me, make me money while I sit back and enjoy them making money, me going off and doing other gigs, but… Yeah, you know I just got to the point where I’m doing exactly what I need to do right now, and this will be a change, but I’m looking forward to… I’m just gonna embrace it, I am a little nervous about…

Michelle: Of course, it’s change.

Susie: You know what, change is good too. Being nervous. It’s good too. But I’m gonna embrace this and see where it goes, and then in a year from today, we’ll talk about it, we’ll see if there’s another snowstorm outside and we’ll talk about how it went and whether I regret it or whether I want it…

Michelle: Well, we’ll have you back on the podcast and we’ll do a recap and see how… See how it went yeah.

Susie: We’ll actually… We’ll watch the podcast and then we’ll be like, “What were you thinking of?” I’ll be like, “God Susie you’re such an idiot.”

Michelle: This has been great, I love this. I have one question for you guys and I think we can wrap up, but there’s one question I’ve wanted to… I don’t think I’ve ever really had this conversation with you, Scott, but a lot of people, when they have their ground wild game, they, there seems to be two camps of ground wild game, there’s the camp that adds the pork sausage or other fillers to add that fat back in… And then there’s the camp that’s like, no, strictly 100% elk or venison… Or whatever it is. That’s the best way. It still makes a great burger or whatever you’re doing with it. I wanna hear, we’ll start with you Susie, what camp are you in? And why?

Susie: You know I’m in both. I’ve had the opportunity to be able to have thousands of pounds of ground elk, but all of it, and I’ve made jerky with the stuff that doesn’t have fat, and I’ve also been able to… I personally like, I don’t mind the fat, I love the fat. I’ll sit there and eat bone marrow like it goes out of style, things like that. But there’s something about the non-fatty stuff that I love to make my tacos with. Even down to a meatloaf that I don’t add fat to, but I add egg to it, a different protein, or peas or onions, and I poke it up that way. And then I love the other side of it where I’m, “I want a really good burger, I want a lot of pork fat and bacon… ” So I’m on both ends. It really, for me, just depends on what I’m making, but I love lard. Mwah!

Scott: And I’m the same way. I like it, I like it lean and I like it fatty, but on that burger, I’m gonna add fat to it. If you don’t wanna add fat to it, you can add things like sauteed mushrooms and onions and that kind of stuff or egg to give it moisture. And I do know people that say, “I don’t add any fat to anything.” To me, a venison burger with no fat added, is just a little too lean. When you’re doing a taco and you’ve got sauce and other things in there too, it’s not so, it doesn’t matter. Chilis, tacos, any of that kind of stuff, where you’re gonna have other flavors added, I don’t care whether it’s got fat in it or not. But when it comes to eating a burger, I need some… I need some fat in there.

Susie: If you take a bite out of the burger and you don’t have fat drooling down your fingers…

Michelle: You’re like… Your mouth is dry. You can’t chew it. And you’re almost choking on the burger and the bun or whatever, yeah.

Susie: Good one.

Michelle: Alright, well, thank you so much, Susie, it has been a pleasure and an honor having you on. I wish we would have done this sooner. And hear you’re taking off on your new adventure.

Susie: That’s okay, you know what, this is why we have so much great technology. You just call me and I’ll let you know what’s going in Dallas. I won’t be talking about a snowstorm. That’s for sure.

Scott: And best of luck to you and Gabe in Dallas. That sounds like a great opportunity. And you and I will be in touch very soon.

Susie: Yes, sir. Thank you guys so much.

Scott: Alright, see you Suze.

Susie: Spice it up, guys.

Outro: Well, time sure flies when you’re loading up on good food, good wine, and great conversation. Find more Scott Leysath at , where you can also nab a free wild game e-book and sign up for his two times a month newsletter, track him on social media, and see how to watch The Sporting Chef airing on Sportsman Channel and Dead Meat on Sportsman Channel and MyOutdoorTV. For more Michelle, check out She runs her own marketing communications firm, handling PR, social media, and more for some of the biggest names in the outdoors. That’s it for now. We’ll see you next time when, again, we go Off the Record with The Sporting Chef and Michelle.

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