We had the good fortune of connecting with Jim Blunt and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Jim, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I’ve had my own business before, and I loved being my own boss. It’s freeing and allows you to be creative with your work processes and do what works for you. You get to set the parameters that define success for you and to decide what your business should look like and how it’s going to operate.

In this instance, I decided that I wanted to start a side hustle that could earn me some extra money. I’m something of a foodie and have been for at least 30 years. From the time I got a charcoal grill and cooked my first hamburgers and steaks, I’ve been hooked. Because of this love of food, one of the things I always wanted to do, was to create social media posts (Instagram/TikTok, etc) and showcase the food I could cook. However, I’m not one of the young, hip, good-looking crowd that seems to be required to pull in large numbers of followers. Nor do I have all of the equipment needed to create the really professional videos that most of them post.

Instead, since I do like a good place to eat, I decided that I would find really good places to eat and interview the owner/cook at the establishment, to find out what drove them to pin their hopes and dreams on such a fickle arena. Not only would it help me find great places to eat, but it would be free advertising for the business owner, hopefully driving more customers and revenue through their doors. We’re still trying to monetize how we’re going to make money with this, but with a stable primary income, we’ll see what happens as the business grows.

Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
The thing about our business that sets us apart, is the depth of our business reviews.

I view our Epic Chefs podcast / videos / www.EpicChefs.com website as something like Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, only you get to know something personal about the person behind the food.

I’m most excited about the possibility of meeting some big names in the cooking world and learning some of the secrets used in the cooking world, to make my own cooking even better. I’m also excited to see if I can have as big an impact on some local businesses as I’m hoping I can. We’re never going to negatively interview a business and try and ruin their business. We are here to expose those you would never have heard about otherwise and increase their revenue by driving customers to their place of business.

Getting to where we are today – Whew! There’s a story! I’m a big proponent of “everything you’ve experienced in your life is what has molded you into the person you are today.” Without any of that experience, I wouldn’t be where I am today, capable of launching this business and making the decisions necessary for success. There were days that I wished the path through those experiences, and the resulting knowledge and wisdom that was gained had been easier, but nothing worth having comes easily. Those tough learning experiences just make you more determined to succeed the next time. Another thing to keep in mind, is that you don’t learn anything from your successes…you learn from your mistakes and then improve the process the next time. If you want to achieve the same level of success that the average person has attained, then by all means, keep sitting in front of that TV all night, keep going out with your friends and drinking or gambling away all your money, keep making excuses why you don’t have enough time. But if you want to realize a level of success that most people only dream of, then go out and do those things that others are unwilling to do. When you DO succeed, people will say how lucky you were. But it’s amazing how often “luck” = opportunity + hard work.

I think the biggest thing to remember along the way, is that you need a mentor. You should ALWAYS have at least one mentor. I think you should have several mentors:

– A business mentor – someone that has been doing what you are striving to do, or someone that has achieved the success you want to achieve. Talk with them and ask if they have any secrets they can/would share, that will shorten your journey to success. There is no reason to re-invent the wheel, every time you build a car. That doesn’t mean you can’t improve it, after you have mastered your basic skills.

– A spiritual mentor – your pastor, a rabbi, a religious friend that can help keep you grounded in the things that matter. We all have a spiritual void within us, crying out to be filled. Some of us fill it with the wrong things and it causes strife, friction, and negative reactions / results in both ourselves and those around us. Keep people around you that can help you keep your feet planted firmly on the ground, realizing that all of us need help in realizing and admitting that we are not the ones really in control.

– A personal mentor – someone 10 to 20 years older than you, that can advise you on personal issues such as relational matters with your significant other / kids / friends, etc. Find those people that have a loving relationship like the one you strive for with your SO. Find families that have kids that behave and have achieved the success that you want for your kids. Pick their brains on parenting skills and setting goals. Look to people that have friends like you’d want to have. Supporting, encouraging, happy, grounded, focused…and then either ask if you could join their group of friends or look to make friends of your own that contain those qualities.

– A financial mentor – find someone that is where you want to be financially and ask them to mentor you and share their secrets for success. They don’t have to share their personal financial information with you, but they can counsel you on what would make good financial sense and what doesn’t, where to invest and where not to, how to build up a nest egg for your family in case of hard times.

Oftentimes, these mentors can be family members; moms, dads, grandparents, sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles. But if their successes in the areas you’re needing mentoring don’t reflect where you want to go, then look elsewhere. You aren’t going to take financial advise from broke Uncle Jim that lives paycheck to paycheck, has an old broken-down truck, and no savings. Find those people that can help you achieve success and humble yourself enough to be teachable.

I want people to remember our company as the one that helped to elevate others to success. A podcast so successful in our interviews with other entrepreneurs that make great food and drinks, that people start coming to us, asking to be on our podcast. Other than that, I want the world to know that we were fair, honest, and did the best we could to lift others up.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
This is a tough one.

I like nature and being outdoors and walking. This is Arizona, so if you’ve never been, one of the first things you have to go see is the Grand Canyon. We’d walk the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and depending on when we got there, we’d go to the Arizona Steakhouse for a late lunch. We’d then walk back to the car and make our way to Sedona, Arizona, where we’d spend the night. Upon waking up the next morning, you’d experience the beauty of the red rocks of Sedona and we’d have to go hiking among the peaks such as Bell Rock, Courthouse Rock, etc. We’d stop for lunch at the Open Range Grill and Tavern and eat a leisurely lunch on the patio with a great view of Snoopy Rock and enjoy a couple of Smoky Old-Fashioneds. After that, we’d do a jeep tour up to the top of the mountain range, experience some of the magnetic vortexes in the area and call it a night at either Gerardo’s Italian Kitchen or Vino de Sedona. We’ve now taken up 2 days of our week.

Day 3, we’d wake up late, make the 2.5 hour drive back to Peoria, Arizona and go have lunch at the newest, delicious chicken place to hit the scene, which is Twist Hot Chicken. Their chicken is insanely crispy and crunchy, while still being juicy, and without the batter being all there is. The sandwich is made from whole chicken breast, paired with an delicious coleslaw and a spicy, yet flavorful seasoning. After lunch, we’d mosey down to Top Golf, where we’d spend the rest of the day hitting golf balls, watching sports, drinking beer and other libations, while eating more tapas and french fries than we could possibly hold.

Day 4 would be the “interesting places” day. We have yearly passes for the Phoenix Botanical Garden (PBG). We’d go there and check out different plants of the desert, as well as observing the art installations of world-renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly, which are spread throughout the PBG. From there, we’d go have lunch at La Locanda Italian Bistro in Scottsdale, where we would have Maple Bourbon Manhattans, Lemon Drop Martinis, and Seared Scallop Risotto. After lunch, we’d go to Taliesin West, which was architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home and studio in the desert from 1937, until his death in 1959 at the age of 91. While being awed by Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural genius, we could once again peruse the additional art installations of Dale Chihuly. After leaving Taliesin West, we’d drive back to Peoria and have dinner at the Arrowhead Grill, which is one of our local upscale steakhouses. We’d start off with drinks; old-fashioneds and good wine.  We’d move on to Caesar salads, and progress to the rack of lamb and the porterhouse or tomahawk steaks. We’d finish up with chocolate cake and cappuccino.

Day 5 would be a lazy day by the pool in the backyard. We’d smoke some pork ribs, maybe some beef ribs, grill up several pounds of spicy garlic chicken legs, drink some homemade Limoncello and eat ourselves into a food coma.

Day 6 could be spent with the girls going and checking out some of the outlet malls, while the guys decided which one of the more than 250 golf courses to play on. After both groups reunited, we’d have drinks and dinner at Fabio On Fire, which is another local Italian restaurant.

Day 7 would be spent relaxing by the pool again, with a buffet breakfast of eggs, sausage, hash browns, fresh fruit, and lots of coffee. At some point, we’d return our charges to the airport and allow them to make the journey home.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?

Oh man…where to start?

First and foremost, is my wife Marta. For the last 30 years, she has always been the one telling me to do what makes me happy and for me, that always seems to be cooking for others. I’ve grilled, smoked, and fried a lot of food over the last 30 years and invited a lot of people into our home during that time. And fortunately for me, she’s been very patient and supportive the entire time.  She’s my best friend, she’s my supporter, she’s my sounding board, my confidant and my advisor.  She’s also my creative consultant for this venture, as she is so very talented in the artistic world.  She can paint, she stamps, she is a photographer, she does calligraphy…she’s the entire package.

The second group I’d have to mention, has been friends and family. We’ve surrounded ourselves with some really good people over the years and laughed, cried, as well shared triumphs and tribulations over many good meals. My friends have always encouraged me (and Marta as well, because she’s no slouch in the kitchen), to be creative and push my cooking abilities further.  Of course, they are always willing to be my taste testers and let me know what they liked and didn’t like.

The most recent person to influence me in a significant way, would have to be a man that I’ve known for several years now, that has come to be a close friend. That man is Greg Gerber. He is always pushing me, always mentoring me in what it takes to grow this endeavor, always holding me accountable to my goals. He is a fountain of information when it comes to networking with people, writing skills, marketing the business, and creating goals.

And last but by no means the least, is my friend and mentor from back home in WA State, Mike Clayton.  Mike was my best friend for many years in WA State and was a combination of a brother, a mentor, a father figure, and a force of nature.  Leaving Mike behind in WA State when we moved to Arizona for work, was probably the hardest thing about moving here, but we call each other and stay in touch. Mike is a retired Navy guy, so he’s very straight-forward and direct, which is why we get along so well.  He is a wonderful Christian man as well, and has the heart of a true servant.  It was always a pleasure and a learning experience to do anything with Mike, whether it was going for a power walk or making breakfast for a group of men at 6:00am on a Saturday morning.  Mike has a true gift for being able to see a problem, analyze the problem, finding out how to fix the problem, and then bringing the problem to a successful resolution.  It didn’t matter if it was a piece of equipment, family, friends, strangers or himself.  And when everything was said and done, you’d always know how much Mike cared.  He puts on an exterior of being a gruff, grumpy old fart.  But just below the surface, he’s the biggest marshmallow, with the softest heart and the most generous soul that I’ve ever met.  One thing I learned from Mike that has always stuck with me, was to bring things down a notch.  I’d always be in a hurry to get stuff done and Mike would look at me and say, “Deliberate speed, Jim, deliberate speed.”  What is deliberate speed you may ask?  Faster than normal and moving at a good hustle, but not so fast that you’re screwing things up.  Fits right in with what my dad used to tell me, which was, “If you’ve got time to do it twice, you’ve got time to do it right the first time.”  Thanks Mike, for everything!

Website: https://www.EpicChefs.com

Instagram: Epic Chefs (epic.chefs)

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/epicchefs/

Twitter: @ChefsEpic

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EpicChefs.net

Yelp: Epic “Epic Chefs” C.

Youtube: james@epicchefs.com

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