We had the good fortune of connecting with Sarah Daulton and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sarah, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
In the beginning stages of starting my own business, my thought process was mostly contingent on the desire to work for myself & make my own schedule. To be frank, I didn’t want to work for someone else and I wasn’t that good at it either! I knew in my heart of hearts that something involving food was my life’s path, so a small catering company seemed to be the right answer, however, after some coaching from Jessica Baumgart, owner of Delicious Denver Food Tours, I decided that designing a model around teaching others to cook was my dream. It began several years ago when I met a most wonderful family who hired me to teach them monthly cooking lessons. The father scheduled with me each month, and each month a different member of the family got to choose what they wanted to learn. We ended up working together for almost two years! What I was so blessed to witness each month was this family coming together, time after time, laughing, cooking, eating, imbibing, smiling, talking-all the while a happy father stood by in profound joy that his kids were all together, again. I couldn’t help but share in that joy and think hey, I did this! I was the catalyst for bringing this family together time & time again-why couldn’t I do this for others too? That is ultimately where Denver Cooking Classes was born. It was not birthed to be a culinary school, rather, an opportunity to come together in the comfort of one’s home and connect in the most important room of the house! The Kitchen!!! Our menus are fun, hands on, and highlight different cuisines from different countries so that there is not only cooking, but some lessons in an array of different cuisines. Soon we’ll be adding menus that focus on nutrition and healing our bodies, with menus ranging from Paleo to healing Autoimmune disease through diet. As Laura Esquivel (Like Water For Chocolate) so aptly put it, “Cooking is one of the strongest ceremonies for life.”
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’ve been working in the food industry for as long as I can recall. I started out as a hostess at fifteen, then a waitress for countless years, and then I discovered cooking and found that it drove me, inspired me & moved me. I took jobs in professional kitchens, catering kitchens, & commissary kitchens-I started very much on the bottom-and drove myself to push further & further into the world of cooking. A few positive characteristics about me are that I am driven, resilient, passionate, & tough; the notion of failure doesn’t compute and so I have always had it in me to drive ideas forward. I want to be clear however that in all of my experiences, none of it has been easy. You deal with long hours, interpersonal dynamics, expectations often difficult enough to meet that faith & confidence get zapped time and again. While drive & resilience remain in-tact, it was always my confidence in my work that tried to keep me down. Those ever-present thoughts that I’m simply not good enough can be relentless , but I never let them visit me for too long. I believe that we can succeed in anything we want so long as we believe in ourselves, and we need to rally & lean on our supporters in order to keep our heads up in the difficult times. I am most proud of what I’ve built in Denver Cooking Classes. I built a model from the ground up and it’s a model that really works. I teach classes in the homes’ of my guests and that is what sets me apart from my colleagues in the industry. I have created an intimate experience where families & friends get to come together in their kitchen and create something delicious. And then enjoy the fruits of their labor as a group. Seeing people smiling and laughing and learning brings me a joy that can’t really compare. The biggest lesson I have learned along this journey is that things change, and it’s imperative to flow with those changes. From the time that I launched Denver Cooking Classes to today, the model, the website, and everything in between has undergone a profound evolution-and it will continue to do so. If we can remain open to evolve, adjust, and innovate, success will be the bottom line. Food is something that saved my life during some really dark times in my life. When things feel heavy, dark, or just overwhelming, I find myself in my kitchen creating a meal. Food is also something we share with our loved ones-it is indeed my love language, and that language is what carries over to my brand, and to what I get the pleasure of bringing to my guests.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If my best friend came to visit, the itinerary would mostly revolve around food. The very first thing we would do is book a food tour with Delicious Denver Food Tours. This is a three hour walking tour of downtown Denver where you get to eat, drink, and get a survey of some of Denver’s most interesting history. We’d then have a gin tonic & tapas at Ultrea, LeRoux for cauliflower creme brulee. I’d take them for tacos on Federal, dumplings at Lao Wang’s, drinks on Linger’s exceptional rooftop, tea at the Brown Palace, a bike ride around Wash Park, Biker Jim’s for a fancy hot dog, brunch at the Hornet, a soak at Havana Spa, and then a relaxing drive to Estes Park where we’d have a cocktail at the Stanley Hotel. I love to take visitors to Denver’s Botanic Gardens in Cheeseman Park, and of course we’d have to hit South Broadway for a burger at the Brutal Poodle and then a day of antiquing.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are a number of people who deserve shout outs for the success of my company. Almost everyone I know has been my cheerleader in the growth, evolution, & success of Denver Cooking Classes. MY friends who hired me just as I launched, Sam Ward who helped me day after day with equipment-lugging it around, cleaning it, packing it, and just being there for me. Chris Iacono & Nikki Eisenhower for always coaching me toward being the best owner I can be, helping build my website to be working at it’s full potential, Annie Dowding, my first employee & a huge supporter in my work, and of course Jessica Baumgart of Delicious Denver Food Tours who took the time to encourage me into the direction of teaching & away from catering! If she hadn’t planted the seed, Denver Cooking Classes may not be here today! It truly takes a village!
Photo Credit Richard Caccavale