Neil Dudley: The Cowboy Perspective, well, it might be hard to define, but I can guarantee if you’ll think about it, you’ve got one in mind. Whether you’re building a legacy, an empire, or a fan base, I bet when your friends look at you, they see some cowboy in your face. Y’all come along, let’s talk about this or that. Maybe when we’re done, you’ll go away with a different perspective to put under your hat.
Neil Dudley: Hey, everybody. I just want to say welcome back to the cowboy perspective. I always love saying welcome back because I hope it’s your second time. If it isn’t, well, welcome to the Cowboy Perspective. If this happens to be the first time you’re listening, I hope you, I think you’ve picked a really cool, fun episode to be your first. I’ve got a really neat guest on this episode. Well, let’s just get right into his bio. It’s a guy named Mike Newton. He was on master chef. He is the consummate cowboy chef. He, let’s just say, he’s not a chef for a living nor has he ever been a chef for living, but he has a great perspective and some insight into a lot of cool stuff. He’s a great philanthropist. And we’ve just had a really fun conversation. I’m glad you guys are here to listen to it. I hope it brings you value. I hope it gives you some insight into a couple of cowboys’ perspectives. We went and walked through the plant here at Peterson’s, showed Mike around, and I just want to read his bio real quick that you can find on his website, www.cowboychefnewton.com. And then we’ll get right into the podcast. I can’t say thank you enough for listening and hit me up with reviews, comments, any of those kinds of things that you feel inspired to ask questions, and we’ll keep this podcast going in a direction that’s most valuable to you guys, the listeners.
Cowboy Chef Newton is the real deal, indeed. Texas born and raised. This cattle rancher featured as “Newton”, the Cowboy Chef on MasterChef Season 8, is not your average cowboy – he has a passion for food and spends his days tending the ranch and coming up with new twists on typical Texas Chow, elevating it to his own Texas Cowboy Cuisine.
Some see Newton’s Cowboy nature and Texas drawl and think he doesn’t know food, but don’t underestimate him. He’s worked “the front of the house” with such Celebrity Owners and Chefs as Tony Vallone, Jack Baum, and Stephan Pyles, where that famous drawl has drawn folks into places like The Mansion at Turtle Creek, La Griglia, Sam’s Café, Hampton’s, Gershwin’s, Houston’s, 8.0 and Richardson’s.
Ask Newton about Texas food, and he will tell you about the dichotomy of Texas cuisine with the influences of so many cultures providing so many opportunities for culinary creativity. From chicken-fried anything to French sauces, he really can do it all, with his own Cowboy influence.
Given a second chance to pursue what he loves, Newton is passionate about giving back. When not in the #uglykitchen at The Double N Ranch Texas whipping up his Cowboy Cuisine or working Farm & Ranch real estate, you’ll find him working with local 4-H programs, in the culinary classroom mentoring students, or using his time and skills to raise funds for local charities, with over $800,000 raised since the airing of his MasterChef appearance.
Cowboy Chef Newton – Rancher, Chef, Realtor, Philanthropist – definitely not a one-trick pony.
And there’s a quote here: “Do what you love, love what you do, and deliver more than you promise,” Bo Newton.
Okay, well, the introductions are done. He’s going to do a little bit of that himself, but let’s get on with the podcast. Here we go.
Just real quick, I want to tell everybody, thanks for listening. I appreciate your attention. Today we have a really interesting guy that I’ve got to know, just luckily through some charity, fundraisers and events we do, and also through just seeing him on Master Chef. Mike, welcome to the Cowboy Perspective. And I look forward to hearing some of your thoughts on things and seeing what we can talk about.
Chef Newton: Thank you for having us. This is a pleasure being here.
Neil Dudley: Oh yeah. I feel like a big ol’ a-hole too, because I didn’t introduce the lovely lady in the room. He’s brought his wife. She’s here as well. We did already say, in full disclosure, the one smart thing said today is probably going to be from her, if we talk her into saying something. So, I don’t know how to start. Where do we start? We went and walked through the plant and you saw some stuff back there. I’m curious, I think everybody would be interested in hearing a little bit about your Master Chef experience and what that did, how that came about. So, maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea for you to just start out telling everybody a little bit about who you are. I’ll probably put an intro into this, something read from a bio of yours or something, but in your own words, tell everybody a little bit more about you.
Chef Newton: Well, me and my wife Melody grew up in Irving. It’s kind of weird because we grew up in Irving when Irving was just a little two lane highway in the middle of it, and you lived on either the north side highway or the south. So, my family actually had a farm between Irving and Grand Prairie, which if you go down the George Bush Freeway, you’ll see it just on the West side between Rock Island and Shady Grove, and then carried back there through their way. But I got started there as a young kid. My grandparents lived out there, my aunt and uncle would come and visit. And then my parents lived on the North side as did Melanie. And so, we grew up in this little town that we watched grow exponentially. Growing up as a kid in Irving was kind of a little different. I mean, that’s where you could still get paddled at school and your neighbors knew everything that was going on. Your dad knew you were doing it before you knew you were doing it. So, it was really a good place to grow up. I was a kid that was pretty self started. I had two older brothers; they did the college thing. I chose a one semester, I looked at my father and I said, “Hey, let’s save you money and save me time.” I just wasn’t the college guy. So, I left and went to work in Paris, Texas, on a ranch up there for a family, the Munson family. And it was a great experience, but you’re a 20-year-old guy, you live 30 miles outside of Paris, Texas, a single guy, it took me about two years, almost three years to figure out that wasn’t my cup of tea.
Neil Dudley: So, for those who don’t know Paris, Texas, is a long way out from anywhere.
Chef Newton: After a few years of that, I came back to Dallas and took a little time off, basically water skied, and just had fun. Then I met a restaurant tour that kind of convinced me that, he told me I had potential. And I thought that was a compliment. He explained to me that potential is the capability of doing something, but not quite doing it. So, I got into the front of the house restaurant business, which ironically, if you knew me now, you wouldn’t know I was a pretty introverted kid. I was just, I didn’t have this gregarious, I guess I call myself a dangerous extrovert now. But it helped me to meet people. It was an incredible experience. And I did that till I was about 37, 38 years old, in some form or fashion in front of the house restaurant. Never really cooked. I liked hanging out with the cooks cause they’re a little bit more fun to hang out with.
Neil Dudley: Well, now you say front of the house, explain that a little bit because I think I know, or I’ve heard it said a time or two, but I’ve never been in the business. I think some people listening might also be thinking, well, what is front of the house?
Chef Newton: Well, you have a division in the restaurant and really what’s in the kitchen, cleaning area, receiving, even somewhat management, I guess would say, is the back of the house. You don’t get to see the inner workings of restaurants, what’s hidden in the back is where the money’s made. It’s where the fun begins. And it’s a little vociferous at times, but it’s a place where you see the cooks, the chefs, the cleaning crews, and the division of the back of the house, you start with the grill guy, then you have sauté, you have prep, you have the garnish, the salad station, if you could. And then actually, the restaurant started, we had a little bit of a fish market in there, too, so that’s considered the back of the house. The front of house is your wait staff, your bar staff again, then front of house management. So, I was always kind of dedicated to that, but they always was used to joke about, I was front of the house, but I hung out in the back of the house because like I said, I’ve always appreciated cooking. I’ve pretty much been on my own since I was about 16 years old. So. either learn how to eat a lot of junk food and spend a lot of money or save and make your own. I’ve always kind of had a talent. I guess I was sold on cooking when I was about five years old. The fortune was I had an aunt who’s from Nice, France, and during World War II, she was a prima ballerina in France, and they shipped her off to Russia during World War II to try to save her. And then she ended up in America and married one of my uncles. Well, when I was five years old, they lived up in Illinois and she made me crepe suzettes, which is basically a French style thin, thin pancake, basically made with flour, eggs, salt, and sugar. And she, I guess they do it with a little bit of brandy and oranges. I had that thing, and I guess I was sold on that. And then my father’s mother, my grandmother, in Irving was an excellent cook. And my aunt Mary Jane, who took a liking to me, she always kind of made the good chicken enchiladas. So, I’ve always liked good food. And so, I kind of was always known to hang around. I was the youngest, my cousin Ashton and I were the youngest – well there was Jeff also – but we all got kind of hulled around my grandmother’s apron a lot, because the others were so much older, they’d pick on us. We got to always be inside or cooking or we got to go do our whole thing. So, I’ve always had a pension for good food and that kind of worked in restaurants. I worked in Dallas, the big restaurant where I worked with for a long time was for a guy named Jack Baum. Jack had started out with a restaurant called Hamptons. Then he opened up another restaurant called Newports. And that was in Dallas valley area by the brewery, next to the old start club. And both of these were fish restaurants. And so, growing up in Irving, fish to us were two things. It was either fried catfish on Friday night or something your dad bought at the grocery store that was frozen that your mother made, cause I was raised Catholic, you ate that on Friday during lent, or shrimp. But I worked in the restaurant and just kind of enjoyed it, and then Jack had a great pension for getting his managers to fire me and send me off to another restaurant. I went to work for like Houston’s and Gershwin’s, I worked for Baby Routh, Routh Street, The Mansion at Turtle Creek, with all those came great chefs. I mean, I worked with Dean Fearing, Steven Pyles, Kevin and Kent Rathbun, Joe [inaudible 11:03] at Gershwins, which actually was owned by former president Bush and his business partner Rose. But with workign in the front of the house restaurant, I always got to go hang out and I’d watch those guys make sauces. That’s what people don’t realize, I’m not just a steak-er, my specialty is really sauces. That’s what I like, it’s what compliments the food.
Neil Dudley: Well, that’s just a huge journey really to come down and how you get there. My story is really similar – I don’t know that it’s similar – it’s just a bit the same that I didn’t necessarily dream or think I was going to be a bacon salesman when I was growing up, I thought I’d just be riding horses, cowboying. And my hero was my dad. That’s what he did; that’s what I’ll do. They said I had to go to college, so I did, and basically studied something that they told me I should study and would be valuable to me. It turns out it was, but at the time I was just kind of doing it because that’s what they said. While you were talking there, I had this thought, I wonder what your take is on it, you mentioned grandmother cooking, aunt being a great cook. I kind of grew up with some of that similar stuff, but in all fairness now, I don’t cook much, my kids who are they looking to be-? Do you feel like the ability of younger kids to see a good cook at home, or experience good food at home, it was a bit of a scary thing to me because I think that might be disappearing in our society a little bit. I wonder what somebody that’s really more in the business than I thinks about that.
Chef Newton: That’s a great question because I talk about it – when I was a kid and learning how to cook, there’s three things you had. You had a recipe, you had knowledge of a grandmother, or you had a library card, and you went and got it- because television back then, you had the Galloping Gourmet, Justin Wilson, and Julia Childs on PBS, and aside from that, that’s pretty much it. But I think a lot with this fast-paced society that we live in, that you see less cooking at home. They had these places like Eatzi’s, McDonald’s and moms are busy – soccer, baseball, got to go here, got to go there, golf lessons, whatever it is, we find ourselves so busy that we’ve kind of taken ourselves out of the kitchen. But what I’m really starting to see, and going back to the Master Chef, we’re seeing these kids that are getting really into this cooking. I enjoy that because of being on the show, I like to give back and I’ve been working with a lot of these public-school systems. Granbury is one, Glen Rose, [Rile] Vista and some of these, but then what we used to have, what was called home-ec, now are like actual cooking classes. So, I don’t know if I really answered your question. You see at home, I think we’re starting to see a revision back to it, especially when you start getting into these products that you’d buy out there. McDonalds we know is not the best we got. I like it every once in a while, I have to admit. I mean, when I travel, my wife will tell you, if I stop anywhere on the road, it’s McDonald’s, and I get a double cheeseburger. And that’s one of my weaknesses. But the fact of this, I think that a lot of people, the products that you carry here at Peterson’s farm, they talked about the non-GMO, they’re talking about the organic. I think a lot of people are starting to see that home. Is there role models? I think your grandma cooking at home for you is not like what it used to be.
Neil Dudley: It’s just different. Which happens all across the landscape. I kind of have a tendency to be a little bit shortsighted in a lot of those scenarios, because I think, well, that’s how it was for me, that’s how I want it for my kids, this so on and so forth. In all truth, it’s just different. They have guys like you that they can see on TV now instead of their grandma. There’s way more access to information of how to cook and that kind of thing. So, I think after talking about it for a second or two, I don’t guess that I’m that worried. We’re going to probably keep having great chefs and kids have that opportunity if it turns their clock.
Chef Newton: I think that a lot of it was television. When I was a kid growing up, we sat down to the dinner table. And as I got into my high school years, my brothers were gone. It was just me and my mom, because my dad traveled a lot, or my dad and I, you started watching TV and you had the TV tapes, and you find yourself eating in front of the television. But I like to always say this, I don’t care how rich you are or how poor you may be, some of the greatest experiences in our lives have been around the dinner table. And I hope that never goes away. We try not to. I think our kids love to come eat with us. And we like to sit down. We like to go eat together. It’s just Melanie and I now. We’re a blended family, Mel and I have three kids each. And so, we have a total of six words. We’re the Brady Bunch. It’s amazing how many times our kids are like, “Hey, we want you to cook for us.” And it’s not just the Master Chef. I think that we like food.
Neil Dudley: Well now, here’s the other crazy thing about, I wanted to ask, so there was life before Master Chef and there’s life after Master Chef. And I perceive that as some level of fame comes after Master Chef, was there fame before that? Or is fame even the right word? Just tell, let’s talk a little bit about the dynamics of what happens, or at least in your experience or in your life, what happened like prior to getting on TV and then doing well? Might not have made much difference if you would’ve just flopped out and not done very well, but you did pretty well, you got some recognition. Talk about that a bit.
Chef Newton: When I got started in this cooking thing, we have a friend [inaudible 16:53] to Linda Dudley. She goes, they had this audition for Food Fighters, which was NBC show with Adam Rich, the guy that, Man Versus Food. And so, I went and tried out for that. And I went out to the, I had to make a dish and drive all the way out to Addison. I get in there and it was just me and one other person and a guy came in and then they call you back to do a film. They said, “Hey, we like what you do. We’d like to do a film test and do a psychological test. And hey, we’ll call you if you’re on.” Well, they call me, say, “We’re a couple of weeks away from going on. We’ll be in touch with you.” So, I called about a week from going on. they said, well, you got bumped. Alright, bucket list, strike it off. I mean, thank you to Linda for sending me there.
Neil Dudley: Was it kind of something you wanted to do? Did you have-?
Chef Newton: Yeah, I hate to miss an opportunity. In my life, I gave up on some opportunities and some things that I think that you always have regret doing. And that’s a podcast within its own, but I said, you know what, let’s throw caution to the wind on this and let’s do. Everybody tells me I’m a great cook and I guess it’s not a low self-esteem, I just think that everybody is a good cook out there. And I said, well, I ended up not getting on that show. And that was in the spring of ‘15, in December of ‘15-
Neil Dudley: How long had you been cooking? Had you been cooking professionally prior to that?
Chef Newton: Never, never cooked professional, worked in the restaurant. I think I filled in on the line a couple of times. Someone didn’t show up and stuff, and “Hey, can you come make salads?” I mean, yeah, but as far as getting in there, wearing the chef’s jacket or going to classes, I never learned. I’m a self-taught chef. And probably, I think for good cooks out there, I think, and I’m a home cook. I’m no chef, but they call me chef, alright.
Neil Dudley: That’s interesting too, too many rabbits for me to chase here. But just the word chef is an interesting thing. I listen to podcasts a lot. I’m catching some podcasts with, have you heard of the book? What is it? Sweet salty- Oh, what’s the name?
Chef Newton: Sweet, Salt, Fat, Acid.
Neil Dudley: Yes. Or anyways, I can’t remember the name of it. But I listened to the podcast with the gal that wrote that book. And she was very particular about when she allowed herself to be called chef, and for the longest time, he wanted to say, “Well, yeah, so were you a chef at this restaurant?” She’s “Well, let’s be very clear. I was not a chef. I was just a line cook” or something. To me, it’s a really cool thing about the industry that they kind of revere the word chef a lot.
Chef Newton: Yeah, I don’t want to taint the pool out there.
Neil Dudley: Well, no, I’m not saying you are. I’m just saying that, even in this conversation, you kind of want to, you’re inclined to say, “You know what, I’m just a home cook.” You don’t really want to say I’m a chef, where in my mind, you’re a great chef. I mean, it can be really offensive maybe because I don’t understand the nuance of it. It is kind of like going into the branding pen on any ranch. There’s some unsaid rules that apply in the branding pen, if you never had that experience before you’re liable to break them. It’s just it’s kind of a slippery slope if you’re just a layman and you don’t really understand everybody’s kind of the way they tie that word to.
Chef Newton: Yeah, I think you’re absolutely right there. I think it’s really ambiguous, first of all, because I know a lot of people that come out of chef school with the title of being a chef, but they couldn’t boil water. And I think that you have cooks out there that just could look at- Jason Wang that was on the show on the final season. And I mean, this guy, he actually has shown in Taipei or Taiwan right now that he’s cooking and he studied food. The guy’s an incredible opera singer, musician. He taught music. He’s an educator. But he is truly a man of the science of it. Jason Wang’s a dear friend of mine, but to watch this guy come in, but I got to stomp him. He’d never had enchiladas; I made enchiladas for him. But I mean, some people, I call myself Cowboy Chef Newton, because I was given that title. In all due respect, I never went to school, but I know some great chefs out there that never went to school. And so I think someone has to give you that. I don’t think you can go out-
Neil Dudley: It’s more like a PhD thing. Like you’ve done all the classwork and paid the money, so now if you want to be called doctor, because you did these steps, I just think it’s kind of, well, I don’t know if it’s bad or otherwise, it’s just interesting.
Chef Newton: It is. And I’m very judicious, how I do it. I’ve had people say I’m no chef. And I say, “Well, okay, you’re right on that. Well, want to cook it up against me? Want to go against me and see who does better?” And that’s just me and my [inaudible 21:47] my wife can see me, I’m one of these guys that, you want to compete, I’m the most competitive person out there. And you talk about before going on Master Chef, we both went through tough divorces, financial crippling, and we came back, and I was in the luxury-. I left the restaurant business and had a construction company, sold that as well, got in the luxury car business. And I really enjoyed it because it was the first time in my life that I didn’t have to worry about 50 other employees and all that. And so, I enjoyed that, but then I started to see the side of it to where the industry was changing. And Melanie has been very successful in real estate for many years, and she kept telling me, go do it, go do it. Well, I went out and did it, but I quickly moved to farm and ranch just with my family being in farm and ranch for years. And it’s a lot easier to go look at a ranch than a three-bedroom, two bath in suburbia America. And so, I was blessed my first year, I was rookie of the year in Keller Williams Worldwide and farm and ranch. We just got a text with what we’ve done this year in real estate and we’ve done quite well with it. And I like it, but I like cooking a lot more and I like ranching. And the problem is I have a slippery slope, I got to find balance here. But you get back to the cooking, and last night I think at midnight, I was making raviolis. I just, I don’t know, I couldn’t sleep, which is an anomaly. Generally, I’m in bed by nine o’clock. And so, before I was on Master Chef, I was a good cook. My friends would come over, I’d make chicken fried steak or meatloaf. And I’m a pretty good barbecuer. I’m no Franklin, but I do pretty good, and it was enjoyable. Then the show came up, and I never really finished that story – I bounce all around. And by the way, if I get to chatting too much, just give me the finger, the index finger, and just let me know I’m carrying on too much for that. Before I went on the show, December 15th, I had a stroke. It kind of makes you look at life a little different. And so, I did. And then in January, I woke up 2nd of January just feeling horrendous. They took me to the hospital, my blood pressure, I think I may embellish a little bit, it was around 212, 214, over 120 something. And they crashed me. They put some chemicals in me
Neil Dudley: Did they give you a shot or something?
Chef Newton: They got it down too low.
Neil Dudley: Did you die?
Chef Newton: No, I didn’t die, but my wife would have liked that probably cause that insurance policy is pretty nice. She could have a house down on the beach.
Neil Dudley: You say that, and you strike me, and I think most people, there’s that rare few that actually want that insurance money, but almost everybody else wouldn’t trade the time together. And we have some insurance policies too, and it’s really just exactly what it is. It’s really kind of, if I die of this heart attack right now, then I’m not sticking the family with some kind of burden that they didn’t have to kind of trudge through, even with the emotional pieces of it.
Chef Newton: Well, and I tease when I say that, so take that clear. There’s times she probably wants me to die, because we work together, we live together, we play together. We don’t get a lot of times- When she goes, can I go spend time with the grandbabies? I go go. I’m not a guy that gets to play golf a lot. I don’t get to go rope a whole lot. I don’t get to do a lot of those things that I used to do, or go to the lake, but it’s fun. But I’ll get back to our story. Then while I was in the hospital, I get a call. It was the casting director from Food Fighters. She goes, “I’m over at Master Chef. I want you to try out for it.” And I go, “Well, I’m in the hospital right now.” She goes, “That’s okay. It’s not till April.” She did not take no for an answer. And they had like my personality, I guess. And there’s a lot there. And so, I got out of the hospital. I decided that I was going to start enjoying life. That I need to stop and smell the roses. I need to be – I don’t want to say a nicer person – I need to slow down and spend time with our children and grandchildren. Of course, our kids are so much older and all over the place, and so I feel like almost- Well, I also wanted to get out of Fort Worth. We had a house in great bow, we had a house in Fort Worth. So, we stepped up, we bought the ranch out in lifespan, and we closed on it the Thursday before I had the audition. And so, there was a lot to do. This place was as rough as a night in jail. And I was out there splitting and cutting firewood, and if you know my wife, she’s barely 5’2”, and she came out, she goes, “Are you going to go to the show?” And I’m going to clean this up; she’s a good Southern Baptist girl. She came out and said, “I don’t care if you ever go on the show, but I never want to hear you complain about it.” And I said, well, I don’t have anything. And you understand, we bought a house, and the person, they basically left the house right before they passed away. And there was like Corelle dishes. And I didn’t really have much in there, but I did have a pork chop, and you’ll appreciate that. I had a thick cut pork chop that had brining. And she goes, “Go figure out something.” So, I made a thick cut pork chop. I tenderized it, flattened it, left the bone in it, I chicken fried it. I made jalapeno cream gravy. I had some chicken. And at my house, keto or not, I’m always going to have tortillas around. So, I made some green chili chicken enchiladas with the sour cream jalapeño sauce. I love spice. And then I made some chipotle guacamole, I stuck it in a hot bag. And I stuck the guacamole in a cold bag, and I had to drive to downtown Dallas at the Marriott. And my wife goes, “Are you going to take a shower?” Well, before I went, I mean, she came out, had this conversation, I’m splitting firewood on a rainy, dreary, cold day. It was cold. I had a hoodie on, a black cowboy hat, boots. And my two reps of clothes are boots and jeans or flip flops and shorts. And that day I was in full regalia and I said, “Nope, I’m just going to go as I am.” So, I jumped in my truck and drove over. And I get to the Marriott, and I go, well, this is going to be quick and easy. Well, unlike the Food Fighters, I showed up there, 5,000 people had showed up for the Dallas auditions. But they did promise me that if I go, that they would cut me into the front of the line. And so, they did, and I got in there. And actually, I got a little nervous. The only visible face I really remember aside from the casting director and the judges was Reba, and Reba was on the show. Reba was a good girl from Carthage. And she put the country in girl, she’s walking around with these little peanut butter balls. But I remember seeing her, that was one of the dishes. But I walked into the room and there’s 50 people with 50 dishes. And talk about being intimidated. I mean, I’ve played football. I’ve done it all, waterskiing. But it was the first time that I felt inept, I guess. The girl next to me is dressed to the nines. She’s wearing a Christian Louboutin shoes, those red soled shoes. And then the guy next to her had made this half pasta stuffed with salmon. And I’m in there with chicken fried pork, with jalapeno cream gravy, green chili chicken enchiladas. And I did a full plate, and the guy walks up to me and goes, “What do you got here? And thanks for dressing up.” I go, “Look, buddy, this thing is not working out for me. I’ve got a to ranch to go tend to, so I’m just saving us a little time here.” And he eats it. And he said, “SOB.” He goes, “That’s the best thing I’ve had all day. Cause we went to the Rustic last night, and if they would have had this, I would have ordered it.” So, he called the other chef over. That was on the other side of the [inaudible 29:15] and he kind of replicated what he said. He goes, “Just keep being you and have a little personality.” Well, be careful what you ask for. So, they bump you off into another room and I didn’t realize this is the producers on the show. This is Robin, Yaz, Elizabeth, and there before, they ask you a question. So, I told them I’m a stroke survivor.
Neil Dudley: Hey, folks, I want to take a quick break in the action to tell you a little bit about one of the sponsors of the podcast. It’s thesimplegrocer.com. I highly recommend you go Google that. Check out all the scrumptious bacon, sausage, hams, and many other things they have to shop. And if you choose to place an order, be sure and use TCP in the discount code for a special the Cowboy Perspective discount. Love you guys. Now back to the action.
Chef Newton: …they go down. The next guy, or the girl, the guy next to me goes “I’m the gay son of a preacher” or something. I go like, how in the heck did that workout for it you? And there’s a girl that insisted she was from Chicago and that food in Chicago was much better than Dallas, but she was trying out for the show. And that just irritates me. When someone ever tries to compare another city to Texas, I got that pride, Texas pride. I stepped off the line and stared her down. And they got back, they said, “Well, what do you like about Texas food?” They came back and asked me the question. I said, “Well, what I like about Texas food is dichotomy of Texas food.” You have everything, we’ve lived under every flag, Spanish, Texan, Confederate, you have all the food that goes with that, but then you can get Czechoslovakia and German, Irish, go on and on, Pho. And so, I said, that’s the beauty of what I like about food. So, they get us out of that. They shuttle us back into a room. Well, the guy that was next to me, that was talking about being a gay son of a preacher, they said, “Well, where do you like to do for food?” He goes, “Well, I like to go out to bougie places,” all the bougie places, which I guess that’s the word for cool or something, like that girl down from Chicago. She got in there and she walked up to me and I’m wearing a black cowboy hat. I still have sawdust on me, and I got hoodie on. She walks up to me, she goes, “Oh, when I heard you speak, I just didn’t expect that.” I go, “Because I’m wearing a cowboy hat?” She goes, “Oh yeah.” So, “Well you judge a book by its cover, honey.” Well, that was set, strike one. And then she got in with Frank was the guy’s name. She goes, “I don’t appreciate you calling me out.” And he goes, “I didn’t call you. And I gave you a complement.” And then I just sat back and go, “Here, Kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty.” Well, they’re filming you. And they were watching what was going on. They called me, Frank, and one other girl, a young Indian girl Hindu. Let me clarify. I want to be careful how I say things. And they invited us back to go have a screen test and they asked Frank and then they asked that girl. And then they asked me, they said, “Well, I don’t know what was going on there. You just keep being you. That was funny.” So, that’s when that happened. So, I couldn’t come back the next day. And then I came back in and that’s when I finally got to see the casting director from the previous show. And they filmed it. They said, “Hey, we’ll let you know if we want you to do more testing.” Well, they ended up calling me back. And I had to do what they call an MMPI, the Minnesota multi-phasic inventory. It’s a 500 question test about your personality and how you handle it, and it’ll tell you if you’re being honest or dishonest. Well, I took that and then they gave you a psychological test and they gave you a background test, so I took three tests in one day and passed all three. And they said, “If you’re going to Hollywood, we’ll call you.” Well, about July 15th or 16, they called me and said, “Pack your stuff. You’re going to Hollywood.” Well, you got to understand, it is me and my wife, a real estate company, a couple of rental properties. We’re building corrals. And we had things going on. We got this life, and they go, “Great. You’re going to Hollywood, so you need to pack up.” Well, I ended up, they wanted me to bring like four or five pairs of boots, two or three cowboy hats. I don’t know if you travel with that, it takes a lot to do that. We showed up to Southwest airlines with three bags of things, a couple hat boxes. And I look at Reba getting on the plane with one little gym bag and I’m looking, and I go like, how does this happen? So, you get there. And I don’t know if I’m supposed to talk about it; my contract with Fox is almost over with, so they can slap my hand, but you get there and they land. And so, how do you know who’s going to pick you up? They have special code word that you look for, a guy holding a sign up. And so, we jumped in, and I guess we took off about five or six in the morning. So for us, we were up at about 3:30. They get us in the van, they start towards the studios or where they’re going to keep us, and they pull over to McDonalds. They go, “Nope, hand us your phones.” I go what? They take your phones from you.
Neil Dudley: Yeah. You’re not going to leak any of this to anybody. Well, that makes sense though. They probably need to protect that.
Chef Newton: So yeah, they did that. And next thing you know, you’re off to this. And they have a large group and for about a week, you’re cooking, and they’re assessing your value. Everybody talks a good story. Everybody can make one good dish. So, they put you in some environments, see how you handle it. Then they whittled down to that 40 people, that they’re going to do the one-on-one. Well, that was kind of a cool experience because I’m thinking, just gave me a piece of meat. I don’t care where it is. I’ll go back. And just as long as it’s not caviar or lamb. Give me a piece of meat and I’ll shine. Well, they picked me and a guy that’s become a good friend of mine, Tom. Tom’s a big boy from Hawaii, a big old boy; he’s not Samoan, but he could pull it off. And he and I were given cupcakes. So fortunately, before I did, I had made a big old chocolate cake, I mean, just a big old, rich chocolate cake. So, I adapted that, and I put my Texas flair, I used a little bourbon, and a little chipotle, a little coffee. And we got up there and you have a roommate while you’re there going through this process. Well, his roommate kept coming to figure out what I was doing and was leaking it back to him. Well, I kind of figured it out. So, I leaked them a little false information. And so, I told him I was going to put a ganache ball in the center of mine. He put his full, well, he put a cold cream inside a hot thing. What it does just sucks the moisture out of it. And so, we came up to and, I was fortunate enough, I mean, Christina Tosi, if you know who she is, she has Milk Bar, probably one of the best confectioners, I would say, pastry. She knows how to make desserts, put to it like that. And she picked mine up and she looked at it and she goes, “This thing is rich. Maybe a little more flour next time and work on your frost.” Well, I also, when I got around [inaudible 35:45] Gordon Ramsey walks up. He picks it up and goes, “This thing is dense. It’s luscious.” He goes, “If you can do this with a blankety-blank cupcake, I’d like to see if you can do with a blankety-blank steak.” And so, then he handed me Tom’s cupcake and Tom got my cupcakes. So, Tom said, “Man, this is really good. It’s rich. It’s moist.” I looked him and said, “Man, this thing has got some good flavors, but it’s as dry as a West Texas powder house.” And next thing you know, it’s off to- So I think everybody saw that- You get in there and it’s really, I mean, it’s a shocker to see how many people. There’s guys in there doing food that I never thought I could do. And so, by the time I left the show, it changed the whole way I looked at food. I mean, I’m experimenting with food and having really good success with it. But before I went, she and I, no children, getting to enjoy our time, did a little ranching, we make, we do pretty good with money, get to, do a little traveling, pretty successful at what we do. And I go to this show and it changed the whole way, whole world. I’m like I’m working harder at 56 years old than I was working at 24 trying to make a living, or when I was 30s starting to have kids. So, it’s been a blast. It’s so fun, but I will tell you I look up every morning and my first question to my wife is what’s on the calendar for today? Where beforehand, it was just like, I knew what I was doing. So, it’s been a whirlwind and it’s been a great adventure. There’s a second chance in my life. And with second chances, I think as you well know, I’ve kind of dedicated myself to raising funds and charities and helping people out. And we’ve been pretty successful with that. That’s been the most fun of this, is what you’re able to do for others. And I’m not trying to sound arrogant by that, or at least altruistic, but I just think it’s just one of those things that has been a gift that we’ve been given. I think right now we’re up close to 800 thousand of what we’ve donated to charities.
Neil Dudley: That’s awesome. Well, and it’s just, it’s funny how the human race acts. You’re not much different than you ever have been, but you get a lot more attention and opportunity from just a little cupcake. So, it’s so cool. We do a lot of things. I get similar kind of things, but nothing on your level. And I think it’s mainly attributable to just the fact that I’m not as visible. And like you get visible, then all of a sudden, people are like, well, Mike can do something for me and so you’re going to hear about things, and you’ve got to really filter those, I’m sure. Because you’re going to get a lot of kind of the users that are just trying to get themselves moved forward in some way or another.
Chef Newton: Well, it has been a true blessing. This is a God thing. You know what happened here. If I can attribute any of it, it had to be because of God. To survive a stroke, later be diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, to go to a show, to come back and do pretty well on show. I mean, I lost because I couldn’t open a jar of caviar, which is attributed because of the stroke and stuff. I don’t have much feeling in my left hand, not much strength, I have strength, but I just can’t control, there’s no gripage. But I get sent home, and I still get teased. Someone teased me on a social network. I’m on most social platform. Well, don’t make me get you shaking a glass and a jar caviar after a year or something. Which you know what, hey, I got kicked off in Vegas. If you’re going to get kicked off anywhere, might as well get kicked off there.
Neil Dudley: That’s right. I mean, and just all the great things that have come from that experience, and you mentioned walking in the room with these 40 people, kind of getting ready for this show, you must know a lot about cooking because I could walk in that room, and I think I can make food that people around me like, but they tell me to make a cupcake, I’d have been in big trouble. They tell me to make a lot of things, I am going to be in big trouble. So, you got to have, I think you had a base of knowledge that’s a lot bigger than maybe you let on to even be able to walk in there and make it up on the spot a little bit or adjust a recipe. So, 100% sure, I’d just be like, ah, you got me.
Chef Newton: Well, I was really scared too, because baking is such a fine, it’s really probably the most scientific part of any part of cooking. I mean, you can sear a steak, but coming to baking and one little thing tweaking, you have a flat pancake, and it is not even a pancake, it’s just goo. I’ll tell you, quite frankly, making those cupcakes for replicating have become a chore for us. We kind of giggle about it. Melanie has kind of taken over when I do it because I get so frustrated. The dogs eat very healthy at times. I’ll forget to put something in, but I’ve actually grown in the baking part, and the other things that I’ve never did when I went onto the show is making pastas. I mean, I could whip up raviolis. But that’s the fun part of this. And for me, the part about cooking is if you ever watch any of these cooking shows or like the movie Chef, and now they have a series on Netflix, what they say is I eat with my eyes. When I cook this, I try a little bit of it, but then when it is time to sit down, I don’t want to eat it. I mean, I’ve already eaten so much of it with my eyes and smell, or sampled just a little bit of it, I don’t want to. My joke about it is I cook for two days for Thanksgiving so other people can eat for 15 minutes. I just want to make sure I get the best seat in the house for the football game. So, I mean, it’s been a blessing. I wouldn’t give up any one bit of it and people always ask the question, would you go back? And I said I was gone three months last time. And we only got to talk 10 minutes a week until I had a meltdown. They kind of worked with me after that with her or my kids. And last time it was like, it was just picking up like, hey, what about this? What’s going on here? What’s going on here?
Neil Dudley: Well, you can’t even talk about anything other than I need these check boxes done real fast. What do you want to do? I mean, that’s wild. People don’t get that. Like nobody knows that. I had no clue really, until you just said it. They put you on an island away from your family. I mean, there’s a cost to that opportunity, too, that I think a lot of people, especially kind of somebody who’s not very well centered. I want to say myself at age 18, or even up to 25 thinking I need to do something that I get recognized for, fame, cause that’s going to bring the money and the girls and all the-, and that was such a, God just blessed me as well because he didn’t let that happen cause it would have been disastrous for my life. I had no maturity or ability to deal with it. So, you see a lot of what movie stars, even successful athletes, really crumbling after that. The ones that do really well with it are so impressive. I think those are the most impressive. Tim Tebow kind of comes to mind as a guy that had a lot of success, did it really well in sports, kept his faith in the forefront. I’ve not heard of him really tumbling very hard in any way from that fame and the opportunities he has.
Chef Newton: So, yeah, I think you see that in Keanu Reeves, by the way, most people don’t know, he’s just a regular guy. Money hasn’t brought him anything, and you have to look at his story to understand that. Or Kirk Cameron.
Neil Dudley: He’s doing some great movies. I really appreciate what he’s doing with-. I didn’t have something to do with the Shack? And then he’s also like, we’ll watch some of his stuff at church sometimes, it’s just with our Sunday school class, we’ll kind of get together and watch one of the shows he’s done. Maybe it was something about a cross or something. I can’t remember.
Chef Newton: Yeah. I think it’s hard to put a lot of people on a pedestal, in, I don’t want to say in Hollywood, I don’t think that’s fair, but I mean, some of the down to earth people. But I always liked and respected and thought a lot of Tommy Lee Jones, and someone goes well, he’s a Democrat. And I go who cares? I mean, here’s a guy that grew up in San Santana, went to St. Mark’s in Dallas, went to Harvard. His roommate at Harvard was Al Gore. He played football on their championship team, played guard, and he keeps himself out of that limelight. [Cici’s facing 44:27] from Emory, Texas. You don’t hear a lot of negative things other than they don’t grant a lot of interviews and they like their private time. I had the pleasure of meeting Robert Duvall one time. I met a lot of actors being in the restaurant business. And I could go on all day, but the ones that really stand out in my mind are the ones that no one ever hears about in your mind. I don’t care about the Corey Feldman’s. I think there’s a lot of guys that I think they mean well, but I think that they’ve overstepped their boundaries. You’re there to act; I don’t want to hear about the rest of it. I don’t want to hear about your drugs and all that, Charlie Sheen type stories. No, but it was incredible. It’s kind of weird to me that still people come up and go, “That’s Newton, that’s Newton! That’s the guy that was on Master Chef! I love you!” And people have been very respectful. I think there’s been a couple that haven’t been respectful of our marriage and stuff, but nothing, I mean, just online, we just kind of kick them to the curb because nothing’s going to come in between our relationship other than probably me. The craziness with what we do. But it is humbling more than anything. I would say that it has been more humbling that we’ve met some really good friends through this, present company included, that it’s just a pleasure to meet the other people out there. I would not have met a lot of these people. That’s what it’s brought to me. It’s hectic.
Neil Dudley: Yeah, crazy. So, I certainly don’t want to keep you in here too long, but let’s touch on a couple other topics or I like to ask this question. I’ve historically asked this question to everybody that’s been on the podcast so far, so you get it too. What is the value of a dollar or a Bitcoin?
Chef Newton: Well, I haven’t bought into the Bitcoin. I think it’s a little weird. I think it’s kind of hocus pocus money. It’s kind of like that, the thing they did back in the seventies and eighties, where you could barter stuff, you bartered back and forth. We’ve met some people that have been in the Bitcoin business and guys that were just regular guys that now own their own private jets. And the value of a dollar is 100 pennies to me. I’m still the guy that’ll pick up a penny off the ground. I will- I’m a little conservative, but don’t get me wrong, I can get to spend money, but I mean, I find the value of it, it’s never going to be lost. We just cashed in a change jug that we throw all our change in, and it was like $360. And you don’t have any banks that count your money anymore. But it was for me, it’s still, no matter how hard you work or how much you receive, it is still worth at one piece. So, the value of a dollar to me is every bit of what we use. I eat leftovers.
Neil Dudley: There you go. That’s a great way to put it. I got to say that’s the first time I’ve kind of heard it put that way, and it’s the perfect way to put it. It is every bit we use.
Chef Newton: Have you ever taken a fence post that you dug up-? Like, for example, I dug out an old bulldark post one time and we had it around our place, and it had been in ground probably 40 years. It was still pretty- and I remember we had that. I go, I’ll just burn it. And then one day we ended up reusing it, a corner post, just for the fact of we still have it. We used it actually for an old H brace, but my parents grew up in the Depression. I don’t know. I’ll tell you if I ever have to eat split pea soup again, my mom would make a bowl of that thing, or not bowl, make a bucket of it. One day is bad enough. Two days is awful. Three days, I was actually getting up early in the morning, dumping it down the sink so we didn’t have to eat it another day.
Neil Dudley: Yeah, well that was, people, even me, are almost too far removed from the Depression to really know. My granddad and grandmother lived through it. My dad was pretty affected by it. So, he’s done his best to tell me that it’s not always great. It’s like the economy we live in today is really good. Everybody’s prospering generally. I guess it’s unfair to say everybody’s prospering because I’m sure we could find a lot of people that would disagree with that. But in at least my view, things are pretty good, really good. And haven’t been, I even, you guys may have a way different opinion than I, being in the real estate business when that little bubble popped. In our business, it was actually kind of not even a blip on the radar because we kind of catered to a higher income clientele. And they generally, if things are tightening up on them, then they’re trading down on toilet paper or something and they keep buying the higher, what they want when it comes to their proteins. So anyways, I personally have to try to think about a lot is I don’t understand what a bad economy really is. So, I’m not, I know for sure I’m not protecting myself enough on that front because it could happen. This Whole Foods, Amazon buying Whole Foods has been a bit of an insight there for us. It really changed our business a lot. And not in a bad or good way, it just changed. I try to tell people, I wish everybody could just understand change is only change. It’s not bad, good, or other things. You may choose to treat it bad or good, but it’s only change. It’s just reality. So, I don’t even know where that tangent was going other than I thought your explanation of what a dollar is or the value of a dollar was just probably the best I’ve heard yet. A lot of people get real confused when I ask that question. I don’t know, you know, it’s a hundred pennies or something.
Chef Newton: We grew up, I don’t know, you’re younger than us, but I mean, my parents talked about the Depression. My parents, my dad grew up on that farm in Irving when they had a bathtub in house, and a toilet outside. And that they finally got air conditioning, I think when he was in college. But what really made me think of it was the first car I ever financed was in 1978 or 79, and Jimmy Carter was in office. Jimmy Carter is an incredible human being- humanitarian. He wasn’t very good for a president. He kind of destroyed the airline industry and, that said, but what I remember was financing a car for 16% interest. I think the car was even that much, but my dad has some insight at the credit union. They gave me a little bit of a break. That made you think. And we watched gasoline go from 19 cents to 25 cents to 48 cents to 99 cents within four years. In comparison, that’s a heck of a lot higher than what we pay today based on what you make in money. My first job I made minimum wage was just a $1.81.
Neil Dudley: Yeah. I mean, it’s all relative. It’s like in the time, today is the day we are living, and this is the way, this is our climate. But that I find a lot of value in just kind of that piece of the conversation that I can have with you or my dad, or even just people that have been down that road, experienced it, although I haven’t. And I won’t be ready. I won’t be good at it.
Chef Newton: Don’t get started on that, would you please. Don’t go down that road. Let’s keep going where we’re going.
Neil Dudley: Though, I’m just not really great at learning something until I’ve like been in the fire, it’s kind of sad. Another just piece of, I guess, I’m not sure where this would take us, but I never read. I don’t read, I still don’t read. I can’t say, other than the Bible, and I’ve never read it cover to cover. I’ve never, probably ever read any other book cover to cover. But I got into listening to books and it’s been this enlightenment where I’m kind of sad for all those years I missed just reading and getting some of that information into my mind. Cause I was, I don’t know if it’s ADD or what, but I just read and next thing I know I’ll be asleep or thinking about what I’m going to do tomorrow. So, reading doesn’t work for me. Listening to books while I’m driving works really good. So, I’ve had a lot of fun. I haven’t read it or listened to it yet, but the Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, I’m going to listen to that book because I’m interested.
Chef Newton: Do you have Netflix?
Neil Dudley: I do have Netflix.
Chef Newton: Download it onto your phone so when you’re traveling, you can watch it.
Neil Dudley: I could watch that on the plane, for sure.
Chef Newton: No, I’m a pretty voracious reader, but I tell you, I picked up the book the other night, and I got about a half page into it and of course I fell right to sleep. I used to read excessively. In Paris, Texas, I didn’t have television.
Neil Dudley: So that’s what you did, was read. Okay. So now I know what you think about a dollar. What’s the best chance or best way of somebody getting some Mike Newton cooking?
Chef Newton: Well, that’s pretty easy. Well, there’s a couple things and I will let the cat out of the bag on something for the first time. You can go to cowboychefnewton.com and we have a calendar of events. We just, we were going to have one this weekend, but due to some, just so many moving parts to it, we were not able to do it this coming Saturday, but October 26th, we’re going to have a sit-down dinner in Fort Worth, and we’ll make it very affordable for people. They’d been a little pricey. We decided to change that. We want to make it affordable to everybody, and we’re going to open it up. It’ll be October 26th. But you can also hire us out. You can go to Cowboy Chef Newton. But I want to get involved with the restaurant. We haven’t closed the deal on it yet, but it’s one opening in Glen Rose. And I’m going to be a little bit active in that.
Neil Dudley: Oh, cool. So, we could just drive to Glen Rose and get some of your cooking.
Chef Newton: You can, and you know what, you just give me an advanced call, you come up a Livepan and I’ll feed you too.
Neil Dudley: Well, I need to work something out with you because your generosity is really just awesome. So, I probably have talked about Bacon Bash with the listeners a time or two, but maybe not enough for them to really know, but Mike is a final table judge, has been historically at Bacon Bash, Texas, where we raise money for type I and stuff. And we’ll have a live auction, we’re raising money and next thing you know, Mike’s walking up there saying, “Well, I’ll cook dinner for everybody, auction that off.” So, we really appreciate that. It’s really valuable for the charity. It’s a great thing. Well, anyways, my wife ended up buying one of those dinners one time. I’m not even sure how long ago that was. I hope there’s no redemption policy.
Chef Newton: Well, we make exceptions. Because I’m not going to let someone go out there and put that type of money towards charity, and go like, nope, there’s an expiration date.
Neil Dudley: In all fairness, I think it wouldn’t be ridiculous if you did say- Now, look, I can’t keep up with how many damn dinners I auction. If you’re not, if everybody decides to redeem them all in the year 2020, I’m not going to be able to do anything else. So, you have to protect yourself there a little bit. But certainly, I told Stacy, I said, hey, we need to put something on the calendar with Mike, for sure. Cause like you said, there’s no time of building family, friends, relationships like eating around a table together. And if we do it with just some close friends, maybe some people in our business, maybe just family, we need to go ahead and redeem that thing.
Chef Newton: You do. We’ll have a good time. Good stories. And I think that when you see this, it’s going to be called Whiskey Woods in Glen Rose and the people that have started it, I want to help them out. We don’t know what to tune, but that’d be a good place, but reach out to us. We do a lot of private events.
Neil Dudley: Yeah. I think just drive everybody to that for the website.
Melanie: Subscribe to the website and you get notifications. On facebook, he’s at Cowboy Chef Newton. Same thing on Instagram, and on Twitter, it’s at Cowboy Chef Newt. But yeah, subscribe to his website, and we send out posts whenever we have events coming.
Chef Newton: See, I don’t know half of what I’m doing. She’s the brains of this outfit. I’m just a pretty face.
Neil Dudley: Now, it came true. The only smart thing said has been her.
Chef Newton: It’s an epiphany.
Neil Dudley: It’s what I call a safe bet.
Chef Newton: Well, my dad used to say you can go to a barber shop on a Saturday afternoon, and when it closes down, go sit at the back docks of a feed store, you’ll learn a lot about life and equality as my dad used to say. You can argue all day long at a barbershop. They’d settle it on the back dock of that feed store real quick in the afternoon.
Neil Dudley: Well, now I’m thinking that’s so true though. It really is. I’m so sad I lost all my hair. I mean, it really, I’m sad about that because I loved going to the barbershop. I loved getting a haircut. I started going bald at about 20. So, I haven’t had, I’ve cut my own hair for a lot of years, but I still go back to the barbershop. It’s like those men sitting there, reading the paper, and then they just kind of crack up a conversation about who knows what and the barber would get in on it. And as a kid, you’d just be wide eyed, man, this is some kind of crazy stuff.
Chef Newton: I’d joke about it, you could go to the barbershop in Irving. [inaudible 57:55] Baptist times. You could go there, and I used to call it the sip, a dip, and a clip. And you could go there and get a cold beer, you could dip snuff, and you’d get a clip, but then, you’d get a big earful of gossip. I think the other one that we used to go to, I didn’t drink the beer, don’t get me wrong, but I think you could even place a bet in one of them.
Neil Dudley: The booker was in there too.
Chef Newton: Yeah, those were some great things. I think that I’m a little bit nostalgic in that manner, I think. Cause now that our kids are gone, I get a little bit nostalgic when it comes to, I want them around. I find myself, “Hey, when are you coming out” Or, “let’s sit down and eat.” And what I can give my kids, I think, is a pretty decent meal, as long as they do the dishes – that never happens, but that’s okay. But I think, my wife and I go back, and I talk, and I said, man, growing up as a kid, I never really appreciated what we had in the sense that you didn’t have all this television stuff. We were kicked out of the house when the streetlights came on, or when the sun set, you need to get inside because nothing good went on outside. And I was just talking to somebody, they were talking about on the radio the other day that, I was spanked as a kid. And I mean, I had football coaches that knew my dad and some played high school football with my dad. And they could corporal punishment and just shy of capital punishment when I was a kid, and I think that the kids nowadays just don’t understand the repercussions. And I’m not, I don’t want to generalize on that, but I’m a little nostalgic that, we go back to our hometown, and it’s just not the same place we grew up in. And we had a lot of fun. We hung out behind the library, let me tell you, wasn’t that we’re reading books back there. And I asked the guy that was a police officer. He goes, “Well, we liked y’all hanging out there. We knew where everybody was.” It was the same thing, but I mean, sitting down, I remember if I would have worn flip flops or shorts to church, my dad would have beaten me. And just those times that that we sat down to a dinner on Sunday, and then, of course we vary the time before or after the Cowboy game during Cowboy season, or if we’re at the lake lot, but there was a time where we sat down, we ate, and actually had conversation. We just talked about Yellowstone earlier and they just had one of the last episodes about when was the last time you sat down with the kids and had a real conversation with them at the dinner table? He tried it, the wheels fell off the wagon.
Neil Dudley: His daughter, those characters are so dynamic and interesting. I mean, I got to give those actors and actresses a lot of credit because they’re playing as some complicated characters. Well, her character is-
Chef Newton: Toxic.
Neil Dudley: Wild, really wild, but then I have so much, I want to say, empathy, but I don’t think that’s the right word because I don’t really think I could empathize with her. I have so much- I just feel so sorry for her too, because I think that all stems really from her mom and the way that whole deal went down with her dying and her being blamed for it and all that.
Chef Newton: Anyways, Taylor Sheridan’s a good writer.
Neil Dudley: Yeah. So, and there you go. I go along and give a lot- There’s so much crazy dynamic in the world. Trump gets me. And I kind of, I can say I like Trump. I certainly voted for him, but I don’t know. I feel like I was just out there picking the lesser of evils.
Chef Newton: I say that all the time.
Neil Dudley: And he bothers me, he really gets under my skin, but almost anybody does, who says, I, I, I a lot. He does it with his business. Like I did this, I’ve done this, I’ve made all these deals. It’s just not true. Those actors and actresses didn’t do that. They’re all, we’re all only a piece of God’s puzzle. I really, he’s doing it all. I got to mention your tattoos. So, I see these cartoons all the time on Facebook, I’ve got a couple of other chef type friends, and they’ll do these cartoons of like kind of a buttoned-up suit guy, front of the house; tattooed dude smoking, back of the house. But I love the verse you have tattooed there. Talk a little bit about that, or tell us just a little bit about your faith and what that plays like in your life.
Chef Newton: Well, it’s kind of weird for me. I was raised Catholic and I kind of joke about Catholic is a forced religion because, I mean, I felt like kind of [inaudible 1:02:25], but I was strong. I mean, I was an alter boy, and I’ve always had faith. But I also got to a point where I started to, not doubt, I wasn’t agnostic, but I said, let’s step back and look at it. So, then I was given a Bible from my father and I started reading it and the first story was Job. And that’s when I started figuring out, no matter what life deals you, if you never lose your faith, you will never, ever – I don’t want to say not prosper – but you’ll never go without his love. And so, when Melanie and I, Melanie was raised Southern Baptist, like I said, she went to the big Baptist church in town. I went to the big Catholic church. So, everybody hung out with them. To not get in trouble, everybody came to me for the keg parties on that farm in Irving. I was probably the boy your parents told you not to hang out with on Saturday night, because some debauchery was- I was a good kid, don’t get me wrong. Well, sometimes.
Neil Dudley: And that’s raising three young daughters now, I just think about that part of their life is coming. There’s a lot of good kids that just get in trouble by accident or just kind of make a bad decision. And you can’t protect them from all that. So, I put a lot of faith in God there just to let me do everything I can today, love them all I can, I’m trying not to spoil them, but I’m pretty sure I am. It was like, how can you be a perfect parent? You can’t.
Chef Newton: Well, I think that you talk about- So what happens, when Melanie and I got married, we talked about two is better than one. And that’s what, Ecclesiastics four, 9 through 12. And if you lay down together, two of you are better than one because it keeps you warm. Two of you, in business, it’s the two of you. You make one. Two make one. It doesn’t make, it’s not mathematically correct, but spiritually and emotionally and in marriage, two are better than one. And like I said, we work together, we play together. Trust me, we have some spirited conversations every once in a while that I regret later. But you get into that. And so faith came into my life a little bit later and then things happened. I think September 11th was one of those. I remember lying in bed. I had just stepped up and bought some heavy equipment, and September 11th happened. The next day I’m sitting there going, like, I’m doing government work, so the government, so you had to have your billing and then I stayed in and said, if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen. And then I went through a divorce, and that weighs heavy on me. And then we made a leap of faith. When I left the car business, it was just about time. And it’s kind of funny that something happened and the car, I didn’t like it, I was going home to make my decision. I ended up missing my exit and I ended up in front of the sister dealership. I go this is a sign that just, I need to go. And then I got in real estate, and it took off for us. And so, I’ve always had faith, but I think more of it was that when I was growing up, I didn’t have the best- I didn’t have a bad childhood. I can’t say that. I just didn’t have a great relationship with my mother. It was very, very toxic. And we spent many years away and then she had a little bit of an accident. She came out, we called it Marilyn 2.0. And then my father, which was pretty good, and my father passed away two years ago and she kind of got back into it. But Melly said something that is to honor your parents. And so here was this mean, toxic relationship that we had, and now I pretty much take care of my mother. But what’s good out of it is that we were, I guess I wouldn’t say, it is a mother-son, but it’s also a tempered relationship in a sense that we’re, I guess, friends, is that what it is?
Melanie: Mutual respect.
Chef Newton: It’s mutual respect that you know what, mom, you’re getting a little over the edge, and then we are not fighting. We’re not going to argue. We’re not going to have any differences. You’re not going to talk bad about anyone. I’m not going to be inattentive. So that’s been a part of it, too. So, Melly and I both have this tattoo, mine’s a little bit more bold than hers. And then the other tattoo, my daughter, my youngest daughter, which is my only real, my natural daughter. I have two other children from my first wife’s previous marriage, but I raised them. They’re my daughters. And actually, I believe if you marry someone, their kids are your kids too, no matter what the circumstances are. But my daughter wanted this tattoo. It’s the Celtic symbol for father and daughter. So we got that. And then I have this one over here. I don’t think I want to talk about this one. It’s a kitchen one. It’s a knife and fork, and it basically just says, I’m here to cook for you, and if you don’t like it, well too bad. And then I have some others on my leg, but I never really got into the tattoo thing. It just was one of those that had meaning to me. If someone asked me what my next one will be, it will probably be the half open caviar jar, a lamb shank. But I think it has to be a symbol of art, and so, when we were growing up, that’s one of those things, nostalgic tattoos were kind of frowned on.
Neil Dudley: Oh yeah. I ended up getting a tattoo between my shoulder blades when I was like 26 or something. I’m not even really a hundred percent sure why I did it. I think I was kind of just like, you know what? I want a tattoo, I’m going to go get one just because I’m actually my own man now, whatever it was. It wasn’t so much a rebellious thing at that point. It was kind of just me and a couple of buddies went and got some tattoos.
Chef Newton: I lost a bet on one of my first ones. I lost a bet and I had to get one. So, I got a Mustang down on my ankle.
Neil Dudley: Yeah, there you go. And though I find, this cartoon, I was kind of laughing about or talking about with the buttoned up front of the house and the tattooed up back of the house, I think though you find a lot of artistic type people in the back of the house. And so, you find them, they’ll be tattooed. They’ll be interesting. They’re going to have some great perspectives on stuff. It’s almost like you’re talking about the feed store dock, well go hang out back at the smoke break area behind the restaurant. You’re going to learn a lot back there too.
Chef Newton: Well it’s like Aarón Sánchez. I mean, he’s tatted all up; I’m surprised- I think he hadn’t got one on his face just because he’s on television and then you look at Gordon Ramsey. There’s dichotomy of two different- Here’s the juxtaposition. I don’t even know if Gordon, Chef Ramsey or Gordon, I call him Gordon. There’s a funny story within that. The first day he saw me, he goes “Newton, you’re 53, I’m 51.” I go well, “The older the fiddle, the sweeter the music, and respect your elders.” But he doesn’t, and I think that’s the true part of it.
Melanie: Yeah, at an event recently, a lady said why do all these chefs have all tattoos?
Chef Newton: I think it is just an art thing. I’m sorry I cut you off. I think our daughter, well, I think our wildest daughter doesn’t have one. I think Bree-Bree doesn’t have one.
Neil Dudley: She would probably qualify as the most gregarious or wild or likely to get one, right?
Chef Newton: She would have been, but she doesn’t have one. She frowns upon it. That’s kind of funny. Then my youngest, our youngest is 18, Maddie, Moo-Moo. She likes it. She’s kind of pushing that envelope, the millennial envelope, I guess. She’s born in 2000, but I think that, I think it’s kind of a social thing now. I see some people and go, what were you thinking? But I guess people probably looked to me and go, what were you thinking?
Neil Dudley: I’m sure. Well, it’s just interesting. I was out, I’d be out in LA when we were first kind of building Peterson’s, LA was a good market for our products. So, I’m out there standing behind a table, just cooking bacon, which God is so involved because any other thing I would have been in trouble, but bacon is so easy. Basically, you kind of cook bacon, people love it, they’ll buy it. And that’s really all you have to do. If I had to sell something that was hard to sell, like a car or something, I probably wouldn’t have been very successful, but I was standing there just as I am, just dressed as I would any day, generally, kind of denim on denim, with cowboy hat and boots. And these people are, “Wow. Thanks for wearing that costume. That’s so cool. Can’t believe your company makes you wear the costume.” But I’m just like, yeah. So we put this picture, this is a picture of us at a Brandon and that’s on our catalog that we send our products out to anybody and everybody, I think it just gives people an insight into who we are, the people that run this company. And I think if you can have that kind of transparency, it tends to generate some kind of endearment really, and people kind of want to spend their money with somebody they feel like they know or can trust.
Chef Newton: But that’s a good point. I was the show’s oldest guy. [inaudible 1:11:22] That’s how it came up, Cowboy Newton. And I wear that hat, and people said, “You wear that hat when you get off?” And I said, I do, but I had to wear that in the summertime on a beach, a black felt, you know what a black felt- and I was pouring water out of that thing. I kind of joke about, I’m surprised they haven’t put in a toxic lab, that thing was so rough. I still have the same- My hats are built by one of my neighbors, my best friend for 30 years, J. W. Brooks. And so, it’s over at his shop actually. And I go, can you clean this thing out? And he goes, “Wow, we’ll see what we can do.” You kind of talk about some things, but when you’re talking about tattoos and the kids and then, but I’m starting to see a transition, no one ever thought of kids ever thinking about wanting to be a chef. Back when I was a kid, there was a few. There was a guy that was James something, he wanted to be. But nowadays it’s crazy.
Neil Dudley: That’s true. It really makes my question earlier in the podcast seem pretty stupid. Because I think you find a lot more probably kids getting into the culinary arts, let’s call it, or wanting to be a chef, just because the chef- Gordon Ramsey, name them, all of these great chefs that now have airtime and are in front of them and the social media. There are people posting recipes on Instagram, making livings, and that’s all they do. That’s it.
Chef Newton: That does make it a lot easier than selling houses and ranches. I love selling ranches, well, there’s more stuff-.
Neil Dudley: Oh yeah. There’s a whole- it’s the dynamic thing. There’s a lot of ways to get ahead and being, I call myself old, older, I don’t really understand it. I mean, we were kind of dreaming things up that my parents didn’t get so much. Now these kids that are younger than us are dreaming up things that we’re just not getting because it wasn’t- like we weren’t in that fire. We didn’t grow up like that or learn it that way.
Chef Newton: It’s kind of funny, I talk about this, when I was in high school, you had home-ec. You did that so you got an easy A. These culinary programs, you don’t get an easy A. It’s, well, if you play football, you wanted to make sure you took home-ec first fall semester, so you didn’t get kicked out of the game.
Neil Dudley: So, you stay eligible. Mike, Melanie, thank you all so much for being here. I really enjoyed the conversation. I enjoy every time we get really kind of get to be around each other, Bacon Bash, or I know you’ve come and cooked some of our pork a time or two, just to give us your take on it, what you think, we get a little social media blurb or post out of it. Anyways, just really appreciate you. Thank you for all you’re doing out there. Congratulations on your success. Well, we’ll see you at Bacon Bash.
Chef Newton: You’ll see us at Bacon Bash. Thank you, man. And the greatest challenge I’ve had in my life so far in cooking is can you make a dessert with bacon?
Neil Dudley: Yeah, there you go. Well, we’ll just leave it there.
Chef Newton: Thank you for having us. I can’t thank you enough.
Neil Dudley: Any parting shots? Any other things? I’ll be sure to put all this information, your website, all your social names, or how ever people get in touch with you on Instagram, those kinds of things, we’ll put those in the show notes. Make sure everybody can look up Chef Mike Newton, he’s got a really interesting story. He’s a cool guy. And thanks, everybody. We’ll see you around.
There you have it, folks, another ride around the pasture here on the Cowboy Perspective. This time with chef Mike Newton and his lovely wife, Melanie. I can’t really thank them enough for joining us and talking to us for a little bit. To learn more or check in on this cowboy chef and what he’s up to go to www.cowboychefnewton.com. Thank you so much for listening, and until next time, God bless you.
One other quick shout out I want to give is a big thank you, round of applause to Byron Hill music who provides our background music. He’s a member of the Nashville Songwriter Hall of Fame, and I highly recommend you guys check out some of the stuff he’s done. Google it: Byron Hill. You’ll be pretty impressed.