Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in training and education but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kirk T. Bachmann, Campus President of Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, located in Boulder, CO, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Escoffier serves the food and wellness industries cultivating career solutions that focus on education and training. Our customers include everyone from recent high school graduates to career-changing adults, as well as those already employed in the sector looking to advance their careers with additional education. Everything we do focuses on improving the world of food - one learner at a time.

Tell us about yourself

In terms of motivation --- being part of a student's journey from enrollment through graduation is motivation/inspiration for all of us; knowing that we each play a role in a student realizing their dreams is what drives us daily.

So to answer this question, it's best to share a bit about my career/history. I am a fourth-generation chef and began my culinary career in the pastry kitchen of my father, a master pastry chef trained in Germany. As a teen, I spent time at the Hotel Waldschaenke, a resort in Northern Germany owned and operated by my uncle, also a classically trained chef. After graduating from the University of Oregon, I went on to receive my formal culinary training at The Western Culinary Institute in Portland, Oregon. Later I earned a Master's in Education from American InterContinental University. I was very fortunate to work with acclaimed Portland, Oregon Chef Xavier Bauser at the World-Class, Mobile 5-Star, and Benson Hotel in Portland. I then spent several years working alongside my parents at our family hotel/restaurant in Colorado, where our staff and we earned restaurant of the year accolades in 1990. I am proud to be a Certified Executive Chef through the American Culinary Federation, as well as a Competition Medalist. I am a member of the American Academy of Chefs, The International Association of Culinary Professionals, Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, International Food, and Beverage Forum, a 2010 recipient of the Antonin Carême medal, and a 2014 inductee into Disciples d'Escoffier.

In 1999, I initiated my career in Culinary and Hospitality education with Le Cordon Bleu. For several years, I held the position of Vice President of Academic Affairs and Corporate Chef for Le Cordon Bleu Schools in North America, where I looked after standards of quality, curriculum development, training, employer relations, and career services.

Currently, I serve as the Campus President of The Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts in Boulder, Colorado doing what I love most— sharing my passion for the craft of cooking and serving students from all walks of life on their respective journeys to becoming culinarians.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Today's culinary styles and fashions change quite frequently. One commodity that never goes out of style, however, is a passionate and knowledgeable cook, whether professional or not. Society's perception of taste is a complex combination of smell, taste, sight, sound, and texture. A young professional cook or anyone cooking for their family should try to develop a "taste memory" by sampling foods, both familiar and unfamiliar. We should all experiment with several different taste combinations and cooking techniques; being careful with experimentation because inventing simply for the sake of inventing is very dangerous. Rather, we should, in my opinion, consider how flavors, appearances, textures, and aromas of various foods will interact to create a total taste experience - and how much cooking will make our family and friends feel!

Sound judgment comes with experience. Selecting menu items, determining how much of what item to purchase, deciding whether and how to combine ingredients, and approving finished items for service are all matters of judgment. The knowledge and skill in developing good, sound judgment come after hours of listening, watching, and learning.

Passion is defined as a strong, deep feeling, a pursuit to which one is devoted. This says it all. For years I've told students, and chef instructors for that matter, to respect the "craft" and to always cook from their hearts!

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

With each student, we enroll comes great responsibility: to uphold the reputation of our namesake Auguste Escoffier himself, to deliver the best possible education, and to never lose sight of the student as our most important customer. Delivering on that consistently can be difficult, but it's what we all aim to do.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

Per the advice, I received from a past podcast guest and from Jim Knight recently - (1) Love your customers! This means going to great lengths to make our students raving fans of our organization, (2) Surround yourself with great people who believe in our mission and happily execute it daily, and (3) Never settle for the status quo - always look for ways to innovate, become more efficient, and continuously improve.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

One's educational journey does not end upon graduation - in many ways, graduation is just the beginning. During orientation for new students at Escoffier, I always tell them that education is much more than career preparation—it's preparation for a lifetime of learning. It's important for our students to understand that education is more important than ever before - our students at Escoffier become rooted in our community and have the opportunity to develop a sense of belonging to an even larger global community!

With respect to The Ultimate Dish podcast - I view hosting this show as an honor and a responsibility. Networking and allowing others to showcase their stories help create images and lasting memories, which are so important for future generations.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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