On this episode of Circuit of Success, Brett Gilliland interviews Lasse Sorensen, a master chef and entrepreneur. Lasse shares his journey of achieving the American dream, his philosophy of food being love, and his advice for entrepreneurs. He also talks about the importance of strategic thinking and setting goals for the future.

Check out his show, Food is Love, on PBS!

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Speaker Brett Gilliland: Welcome to the circuit of success podcast. The circuit of success podcast. With your host, Brett. Greg, Brett. Brett Gilliland Visionite Advisors The circuit of success podcast. This title show Welcome to the circuit of success. I’m your host, Brett Gilliland. Today, I’ve got Lasser Sorensen with me. Lasser, how you doing? Speaker Lasse Sorensen: I’m good. Speaker Brett Gilliland: It’s good to see you. Yeah. I’ve I was turned on to your story by David Sync, who then told Ryan Barkey, and you know how how it goes. Right? And then I I read this amazing article about your restaurant in Desoto, Illinois. You’ve had it for twenty five years. Speaker Lasse Sorensen: Twenty six years. Yeah. So I started my career in California. I moved from Copenhagen in Denmark to California, and I lived in Los Gilliland after ten years out there, I decided I wanted to live in a different place with Lasse people that I was used to from back home. So Southern Illinois actually reminded me somewhat of Denmark’s rolling hills and small farming communities. So it was a good spot, and everybody told me there’s no way you’re gonna make it. People are not gonna appreciate it. All they eat is barbecue and catfish. And, you know, so I I consider that it was a it was a victory that I was there for that many years. Thank you. And, you know, all the people that, you know, were into meat and potatoes, you know, I got him turned from well done to medium rare and So it was it was a long it was it was a long course of training a lot of people in eating what I wanted them to eat. But at the same time, you know, I, you know, I got a lot of friends and out of all these customers are mid over the years. So there’s been a wonderful twenty five years. Speaker Brett Gilliland: So how did Southern Illinois even come up? Like, when you’re in California, you know, people in California don’t know much about Southern Illinois, obviously. So how does that even Speaker Lasse Sorensen: Lasse, so my wife’s parents were in the military and they lived all over the world, but they were originally from Cabondale, Caudeville area. Speaker Brett Gilliland: Got it. Speaker Lasse Sorensen: So when they retired, they retired in Caudeville. Okay. So you know, I was out here to visit Mary James family, Mary James, my wife. And I went on a fishing trip on Crab orchard Lasse, and I love fishing. So I thought it was it was great, and and I I really got enamored with the area, and then we were out one night, and we drove by this old Lasse, and and Mary James brother said, well, this place has been here since nineteen twenty, when it’s a cool Lasse. And he says, you wanna stop, buy for a drink. Yeah. So we went in there, and the owner was in there, and she was the only one that was in there. There was no servers, no nothing. You know, the lights were dim. You can tell that they were in dire straits. And we we got to talk and she got horse, and she wanted to get out of it. So I’m I’m like, okay. So I went back to California, and I said to my wife, what do you think about opening a restaurant in Sterling Illinois? And she said, Are you kidding me? I spent all these years to get out of the Midwest. That’s the last place I wanna live. So Another five years went by, and I worked for corporate America Gilliland, you know, ran thirteen restaurants and had a corner office and a great job. And and And in today, actually, I was thinking, if I would have kept that job, I wouldn’t be retired by now, but neither here nor there, I got bored because I love to do stuff with my hands and I love Cook. So five years went by, and I came out here again, and the restaurant was still for sale. We made him an offer, and They took it and the rest is history. Yeah. Speaker Brett Gilliland: That’s amazing. What a cool story. And so you grew up in Denmark, and I read somewhere that your dad was the pastry chef the royal family. Is that Speaker Lasse Sorensen: right? Yes. Speaker Brett Gilliland: Mhmm. My gosh. So tell us about that. What was what was grown up in Denmark? Denmark like? What’s made you the man you are today? Speaker Lasse Sorensen: Well, I mean, you know, as you get older, I’m fifty seven now. You start thinking back some of the lucky things you have happened to you, you know, as a kid growing up. And the lucky thing I have happened to me is I had the same mom and dad and they were there the entire time when I was young. And they taught me, you know, to be responsible, and I was never you know, I always started with strains and I saw other kids getting stuff and my parents were like, no, you gotta work for it and then we’ll give it to you. Mhmm. And and you know, I realized later on in life that all of those things were just super, super important, you know, and that’s why I could do what I done is because, you know, my childhood was was so good. And then, of course, being in the restaurant family, my siblings in the restaurant family, you know? So as soon as I could walk, you know, I was washing dishes, and then I was helping my dad and in in the kitchen, dipping cakes, and chocolate, and all that stuff. That’s how I got my allowance. And then it you know, after then I had, you know, two or three hours. That was my job. So I could get money to do whatever I wanted to do. So there there was it was a great upbringing. But it was a different time, you know, things were were different, and and my dad, he’s passed away now. He was a great, oddest, meaning that for him being a pastry chef, or as being an artist to express yourself, he would make He made the biggest wedding cake in the world as in the Guinness Booker record, And, you know, and then he made all the waiting cakes for the royal family Gilliland always looking to do new and exciting things in his field. So it was a great it was a great what do you say? It was great for me to see somebody that was that devoted to his craft. But then on the other hand, you know, if you wanted to talk to him about something else, there was nothing to talk about. There He’s not gonna pay Yeah. He he so my mom had to do that other side, but, you know, it was interesting. And I remember when I became an apprentice with him, you know, he would say stuff, and I always thought, man, he’s crazy. I mean, he’s too hot, this is not gonna work. Why does he say that? And when I when I got my first big job in California, and I had fifty people under me in the kitchen, I start saying the same stuff. He said, and I’m like, wow. He was right. And he came over and visit me when I had Tom’s Lasse, and I sat him down one day. And I said, I apologize for not believing what you said, but it just took me twenty years to figure out. Why you said what you said. So it it was That’s great. He was very happy to hear that too. Speaker Brett Gilliland: Oh, I’m sure. It takes us us guys wise up over the years that I’ve had had that conversation with my parents as well. So how do how in the heck do you land a gig with the royal family? Do you know how that happened? Speaker Lasse Sorensen: Well, I mean, so in in in those countries, you see like certain stores that would have the crown over their name And that’s because you’re the best in the country at one specific craft. Speaker Brett Gilliland: Okay. So Speaker Lasse Sorensen: all the different crafts, there is one of them that has that. Wow. Label. Speaker Brett Gilliland: So Yeah. It’s it was him. Yeah. Wow. Good for him. Yeah. And so in nineteen eighty nine is when you moved to America. And then like you said, you came there And so what what have you learned over the years? Speaker Lasse Sorensen: And I don’t know if you know you know why I came to America. I don’t. Well, because I was involved in a movie in Denmark called Babette’s Feast, and they won an Academy Award as best foreign picture in nineteen eighty eight. And, it was some very interesting movie, and so the producers of the movie wanted to open a restaurant in Lasse Shenega, in Los Angeles and call it a bet’s feast. And so, we were all geared up to all come over here, and I was over here for anybody else, and then the recession hit Speaker Brett Gilliland: — Speaker Lasse Sorensen: Okay. Speaker Brett Gilliland: — Speaker Lasse Sorensen: in eighty nine, and they pulled the plug on it, and everybody went home, and I decided, well, I think I’m gonna checked this place out a little longer, and the rest is history. That’s why I’ve been Speaker Brett Gilliland: here so long. Can we say you’re an Academy Award winner? Speaker Lasse Sorensen: No. She’s like, no. Well, I mean, I had a Speaker Brett Gilliland: hand in it. I lived in a movie. Speaker Lasse Sorensen: I had a hand in it. And and the funny story with that was, you know, it was consider back then the low budget movie. Yeah. And it it I think they made it for like three million dollars. And the first year, they made eighty million You know, when you win an academy award, that’s just a landslide of money. Speaker Brett Gilliland: Yes. Speaker Lasse Sorensen: So I was young and then they asked me, how do you wanna get paid? Do you wanna get a percentage of the movie? Or you wanna get paid. And, obviously, I did not make the right choice on that one because we were like, it’s a good movie, but, no, it’s Speaker Brett Gilliland: it’s not It’s not Speaker Lasse Sorensen: going anywhere. So then I did another movie with the producer later on called a girl in the swing where I actually was much more involved in the food than Babbit’s feast, and they asked me the same question if I wanna present it, and I said, yes to that, because I thought, okay, that’s a good decision. And it flopped Speaker Brett Gilliland: So Over two in the movie Speaker Lasse Sorensen: banging, missus. Yeah. And so it but but it’s interesting. But for me, it’s like, that was like the first time that that I was involved in making, you know, motion pictures, and and here I am today with a show So, you know, I kinda understand the whole thing about what you have to do in front of the camera. Yeah. Then when you when you cook, especially, you know, the food has to be done a certain way when it’s for the camera and everything. So it’s I guess all the little things have made me come to this point where I am today. So Speaker Brett Gilliland: So I think that’s a little what I hear there too is awareness. Right? So I I don’t think that’s by happenstance at these little things just happened to get you to where you are today. You know, master chef, I did some I mean, eight day exam, a hundred and thirty hours. In all areas of cooking. Right? To be a master chef, which you are. And and I think that when you put one foot in front of the other, I always say bore consistent is probably what I would assume you’ve done over the years to get you to the level you’re at. Would you agree with that? Speaker Lasse Sorensen: Yeah. I I mean, it’s it it never I never thought of of a job like how much money can I make and what’s the hours and all that? I always thought about everything I do in life has been about. What can I learn from it? And, you know, not only cooking, but I’ve done a lot of things other than cooking, which I I can’t explain to you today how I got into that. I, like, fifteen years ago, I started a construction company. And I started building houses, and it came from the fact that I was trying to get people to do work in the restaurant, and they did such a poor job and I’m like, it’s obvious you’re gonna have to do it like this. So, then, I started doing that and I realized I was good at that too, And I kind of ran the construction company like a kitchen. Yeah. I wouldn’t allow them to throw stuff and, you know, they all looked at me like, I was crazy I want everything clean all the time. And before you go home, you clean everything up, where that’s not how they do it. No. So But, you know, you know, I was successful of that, I think, because, you know, I had a different mindset, and I wanted people to get, you know, value and Gilliland I never understood why people would overcharge if you got really good at something, why would you charge an exorbitant amount of money for something because it’s just not right. So that’s kind of how I’ve been thinking, you know, and same thing with food, you know, really when people come to the restaurant, you know, I’m like, you know, I don’t wanna overcharge for anything, but then, on the other hand, you know, it’s all about location, you know. If you’re in Clayton, you can charge a bunch of money, if you’re in Desoto, Illinois, can’t. Right. So you you you gotta be aware of all those little intricate things that you have to make decisions on every single day. Speaker Brett Gilliland: So so when you think about your career, you you don’t just become a master chef and stay there. Right? I think about the business world that I’m in. You’re constantly having to work on your Speaker Lasse Sorensen: Lasse Absolutely. Speaker Brett Gilliland: So how did you stay a student of your craft and and keep going to that next level? Speaker Lasse Sorensen: Well, so when I was when I lived in Copenhagen and I was younger, I was very involved in competitions, and that, you know, I have a competitive side. And so I was at the world championships for pastry chef, and my dad told me that I didn’t train hard enough, so I wouldn’t have a chance, and I one. So that was a wonderful feeling. And then I’ve been on the Colony Olympic team of Denmark a couple of times, and I I saw that the more money the teams have, the better the chances you have of winning. So, that’s kind of how I got out of it because, you know, I realized it was not about your skill level. I mean, if you had a huge sponsor behind you where you can train every day and do all that stuff, so it was unfair. So But then, you know, there is other chefs like me that thought, well, that’s not a good way to do a competition. It’s better if we do like a mystery basket type thing because then everybody’s on the same playing field. So, I I After that whole thing, I I kind of said, well, you know, I need to just hone my skill somewhere else but it was a good experience to learn, you know, to do things faster and better and all that stuff on a competitive level. But it was just, you know, prepping me for other things, I guess. And, you know, the the the greatest thing was, you know, I got to meet some very, very interesting people. I got to meet Paul Bukuz, and I say that today and nobody knows who he is. He was the most famous chef in the world up until recently he passed away. And, you know, he couldn’t pronounce my name, Lasse. He always said, I should open a restaurant called Lasse Fair. Which means let it be. So I always wanted to open a restaurant called Liz Fair, and then when I came to Southern Illinois, my wife told me, If you change the name from Tom’s place to Lasse affair, they’re gonna shoot shotguns through the window. Anarchy over here. So maybe it’s still in the future. But, anyway, he came over here and lo and behold, he came and visited me, so that was a huge honor that and all the friend chefs were very upset that that he didn’t go to just French chefs, but, you know, I had a good rapport with him and and, you know, It doesn’t really mean a lot to a lot of people today, but for me, that was like meeting a culinary God and it was just I mean, just an amazing feeling that somebody actually remembered you had recognized you for your Lasse. So that that was a Speaker Brett Gilliland: So so walk through that if you can. So, like, the peel the onion layer back because the I’m I’m assuming the guy didn’t just call you and say, oh, you’re the greatest in the world. I’m gonna come over and see you in America. Right? So how did that happen? Like, how’s that transpire? And and I’m thinking about the people that are listening to this right now, and they’re maybe they’re in sales or attorney, they’re a financial advisor, whatever they’re doing, but they’re okay. How do I build that deep relationship? How do I get that connection and then grow that relationship? So how did that happen for you? Speaker Lasse Sorensen: Well, I mean, I think, first of all, that you’re devoted to your craft and you you are at a skill level that that only a few will get to buy hot work. Speaker Brett Gilliland: Mhmm. Speaker Lasse Sorensen: And I think that they recognize that. And then, obviously, you can break it down differently because other people, the Frenchman that didn’t get him to come and visit them. They had another idea why he came to he was it was a champagne brand that that sponsored him. Well, lo and behold the restaurant I was in, we bought more champagne than anybody else. So I’m sure that had something to do with it. And but, you know, I think that He recognized the fact that I went to Boulcoutdoor, which is a competition you have in France, and then he could remember because we had a long conversation when I was down there. One interesting thing when I went to France and saw him, I remember Mittorang was president, and there was, like, three thousand people Everybody was talking, the president walked in, nobody cared, then Paul Bakus walked in, everybody was silent, And then when he said, Bonapatit, everybody sat down in eight. So, that’s kind of like where the respect was back in the day, and you realized you were in the presence of somebody who were big. Yeah. Right? Yeah. Because the president couldn’t get anybody to shut up, but this guy, he was just he had an incredible aura around him that Speaker Brett Gilliland: — Unbelievable. — that So what what’s been your biggest learning? As a lot of business owners listen to this, your biggest takeaways over the years, almost twenty six years as a business owner, because I think there’s difference between being a chef and being a business owner. Right? What have you learned over those years. Speaker Lasse Sorensen: Well, I mean, so the big difference is just like you said, when you’re a business owner and a chef, then you have to make decisions differently as when you work for somebody else. You know, when you work for somebody else, you wanna just show your craft and skill or whatever. But all of a sudden, you’re responsible for employees, taxes, and the well-being of the building you’re in, everything. And it is an enormous task to be a small business owner, an enormous Lasse. And you have to be fluid, constantly fluid because every day something happens. Yeah. Right. And so you you you can’t have a frame of mind that, you know, everything’s gonna be the same all the time. I mean, over the twenty five years, that I’ve been there, things have changed and I just constantly adapt it. Yeah. And, you know, if they raised the taxes, you had to do something to offset cost somewhere else or new regulations, you constantly have to move, and if you’re not interested in doing that, you’re not going to make it. That’s just how it is to be an entrepreneur. Yeah. And I think most entrepreneurs can agree with me that it’s just that I don’t know, some people call it a hustle, but I don’t think it’s really a hustle. It’s just, you have to acquire a skill set where you’re a good You have to be good at not only your craft, but you have to be good at a lot of different Gilliland a lot of chefs fail because they’re not good businessmen. Even though they’re very, very well versed in making food, but that’s not enough. You have to you know, like what I understood when coming to Southern Illinois is that I can’t be serving raw fish on all the plates going out especially not the first ten years, because my customers don’t want that. Speaker Brett Gilliland: Right. Speaker Lasse Sorensen: So I had to make some adapt adaptions to that, But but, you know, that that that wasn’t really difficult. You know, you just gotta have to find your groove where everything works. Speaker Brett Gilliland: Yeah. Speaker Lasse Sorensen: And then even that changes too. People’s opinion on what they should eat has changed dramatically in twenty five years in United States. So, and you have to constantly change everything about your business, so it follows with the trends there is. And, you know, if not, you just get stagnant, and then people Lasse coming — Yeah. Speaker Brett Gilliland: — Speaker Lasse Sorensen: because you do the same thing over and over again. Speaker Brett Gilliland: So talk about that. I’m a big believer in your vision. You you have to believe more in your vision than anybody else’s doubt. Right? So when you when you think about I can’t serve fish on my plate for the first ten years, but yet here you are, this master chef, have a grand vision. You have a different thoughts of what people should be eating than we probably normally do. So what role did that play? Where where was the Like, how did you get people to kinda step outside of their comfort zone in Southern Illinois? Speaker Lasse Sorensen: Well, so my vision for the restaurant never happened because I wanted the restaurant to be, you know, the first Michelin Star restaurant. Michelin Star restaurant. I don’t know if people really know that there’s a few restaurants like that, but there is a guide in Europe called the Michelin guide, and they rate the best restaurants and and in Europe, you will drive five or six hours to come to a restaurant just to experience the great cuisine. And I thought, well, you know, I’m two hours from Saint Louis, five hours from Chicago, if if I if I if I try really hard and put my mind and heart to it I can make him come. And I did, you know, I did, but given the economic environment in Illinois, I wasn’t able to, you know, have the finest China and the the best plates and glassware and, you know, an abundance of servers. It it was just not economically viable. Like, that’s where you, that’s where you, you know, that’s what you see in MichelinxStar restaurants. I just never get it there, but I really wanted to, and that was my vision for a long, long time. And then, then, you know, obviously, there comes times in in your tenure in a restaurant where you are in survival mode. Yeah. So sometimes, you know, we we had years where we were in survival mode and then things got better again, but my vision has always been serving the people the best and the freshest ingredients. And then that’s the key to success. And giving them great service, you know, and and I I I didn’t care if you had overalls on or a suit and tie. I will treat everybody the same when they come to my restaurant, and and I thought that Southern Illinois at times, we’re a little bit of a culinary desert, so I wanted to be that little oasis. Yeah. And that was my business Lasse, really. Speaker Brett Gilliland: It makes me think too. I’m I’m thinking about the the vision that may not have happened. Right? Is is is there more in the tank? For you. Right? So if if that was once the vision, does that vision totally change? Or is that and you learn a new vision? Or have you Or is there, like I said, there’s still some something left in the tank that says that that Michelin Star deal. I Speaker Lasse Sorensen: want that. And, you know, like, if somebody came to me and said, hey, we’re a group of millionaires, investors. Speaker Brett Gilliland: Right. Speaker Lasse Sorensen: And we want we want you to continue, and I could put all the money and effort into doing that. Speaker Brett Gilliland: I would love to do that. Yeah. Speaker Lasse Sorensen: I mean, the place has everything it that it takes — Yeah. Speaker Brett Gilliland: — Speaker Lasse Sorensen: to make that happen. It just needs an an enormous influx of money. Right. And I would like to do that, but, you know, whether that’s gonna happen or not, I’m not sure. But I still have plenty left in the tank. I just gotta figure out what Speaker Brett Gilliland: you know Kinda gas are we putting in the tank. Speaker Lasse Sorensen: Right? I mean, I’m I’m I’m really, you know, like, this has been five days in And I’ve spent I had a company from Denmark. My family was here from Denmark. So I’ve been cooking, and I love to cook. So a friend brought a bread machine. I’ve been baking bread and stuff. I’m I’m still that person that I have to have something to do. You turn it off. Yeah. I I I’m gonna have a hard time turning it off, so I’m hoping that I can use some of that energy for something really positive, and and I love helping other people. Yeah. But the question becomes, can I make a living off of that? That’s what I don’t know. But, you know, like, I’m saying, I I identify as an unemployed right now, I guess. So I’m just gonna have to wait and see. I’ve I’ve gotten six job offers, so my ego is doing great. Right. And but do they all require me to move to big cities? Yeah. And, you know, work in in in in hotels or some big restaurants and stuff. And, you know, I’m I’m I’m a little bit I’m, you know, I’m I’m not really sure what I — Yeah. Speaker Brett Gilliland: — Speaker Lasse Sorensen: what I’m gonna do yet. But But Speaker Brett Gilliland: I think that says a lot about you. Right? A lot about your craft and what you’ve done. And and quite frankly, I think as a human being, I thought there’s no way in heck after the last couple weeks you’ve had the number of hours, the the the work that you’ve put in, the emotion you’ve put in. Speaker Lasse Sorensen: Yeah. Speaker Brett Gilliland: When I said, hey, show up July Gilliland let’s do this podcast, and you’re like, yep, I’ll be there. Like, there’s no way in hell this guy’s coming. Right? Speaker Lasse Sorensen: It has been a very, very tumultuous couple of weeks. And my wife’s been trying to talk me out of closing the restaurant or she she was thinking that it’s a failure. And I’m like, what do you mean? It’s it it we’re closing on our terms. And we’ve been there for twenty five years. It just means that, you know, I don’t wanna leave the place where I’m gonna stop doing stuff I don’t wanna do. You know, to accommodate a different generation, casual dining, and all that. And I’m I’m not knocking any of it. I’m just saying that with my skills and my craft, you know, if if I have to step into a new position, it has to be something that excites me. You know, where I can say, Wow, now I maybe be able to do some stuff that I weren’t able to do in Illinois or in Desoto Illinois, and So we just gonna have to wait and see Speaker Brett Gilliland: — Speaker Lasse Sorensen: Yeah. Speaker Brett Gilliland: — Speaker Lasse Sorensen: what what happens. Speaker Brett Gilliland: We’ll wait and see. We’ll be watching. Talk about the belief in self. How important is that for being great at your craft, belief in Gilliland then if it’s important, which I believe it is, how how do you improve on that? Speaker Lasse Sorensen: The one thing I think is very important is your mindset. And I’ve always had a positive outlook on stuff. And that I mean, that’s the most important thing. But what do you have to do to have a positive outlook on everything, right? You have to be in good health. You have to, you know, know that, you know, you cannot change other people. I mean, you can only change what’s within an arm’s length. So there are certain things you have to think about as you’re embarking on whatever business adventure you’re in, but the mindset of being positive I think leads to the same mindset that makes you successful, because if you’re not positive, if everything is negative, if you see everything as a strike against you, then, I mean, you’re gonna have a hard time. You know, so when I when I’m dealing with people that that don’t wanna have an education, and they are not interested in betting themself, you know, I’m thinking to myself, well, that’s an opportunity for me, because I wanna do it, and I think I can do it. Of course, I can do it. So, you know, you really have to just be very, very positive. And, you know, really money is really not that important, like as you grow older, you realize that being in good health is is more important and being happy — Yeah. Speaker Brett Gilliland: — Speaker Lasse Sorensen: is more important than making a bunch of money. Right. So for me, it’s never been about the money. I just wanted to be able to provide for my Gilliland then, you know, doing some good wine and constantly cook some good food for everybody and make people happy. Everybody’s happy. Yeah. Alright. You know, Speaker Brett Gilliland: it’s funny. So I’ve been in the wealth management business for twenty two years. It’s all I’ve ever done. Right? So I’m around money every day. I talk money every day, and it it’s funny when you say your health and all that is is I compare your health and your wealth together. Right? Because if you have the if you only focus on your health and never focus on any money, Well, your health’s probably gonna go away because you’re super stressed when you’re old and you can’t work and do all those things. Right? And then vice versa, if I only focus on wealth and I don’t focus on my health, Well, guess what? Your wealth’s gonna go down because now you’re spending all this money, you know, because you’re I mean, sorry, you’re spending all your health, so you’re spending your money on your health. Right? And so I think that’s important to know, and and that’s why I do the podcast even though we’re not talking finances here today, it’s help people help people achieve a future greater than their past. We can learn from you. We can take away things from you and take away your thirty plus years of being in this, you know, master chef level. What does it mean to you when you hear the words a future grade in your past? Speaker Lasse Sorensen: I mean, what it means, it means everything in the situation I am in right now. Right? Yeah. You know, that that’s that’s that’s the I’m gonna harvest everything I can of the knowledge I’ve used in the past to create a better future for me now, but I also all the things you just talked about right now is gonna become really important to me because, you know, for the first many years, I didn’t think about retirement. And I thought the restaurant be my retirement. Well, now, I’m sitting on a piece of property when I’m not there. It’s not worth anything. Speaker Brett Gilliland: Right. Speaker Lasse Sorensen: So, how am I gonna make up for all of those things, and that’s why, that’s the task for me now is to figure out, well, you know, how I’m gonna get out of this, and then still be able to do what I love to do. So I think if I could do it all over, I would probably had talked to a wealth adviser in the beginning because then I would have had a retirement plan and all that stuff. It was always been the idea. Of course, you know, somebody else is going to come along and buy the restaurant for an exorbitant amount of money, and then I’m going to just retire. Well, I mean, that’s just not what happened. Lasse and and many, many years, you know, I’ve had a lot of people in the finance business every time they had, you know, meetings and stuff in Cabendales, so they all told me the same thing. I mean, like, what are you doing for retirement? All that stuff do you have? Four one k and all like, no. No. No. No. No. The so it is super super important. Yeah. And you know, but on the other hand, I also see people that work themselves to death, and, you know, they they retire and then they were sick for a couple of years. Speaker Brett Gilliland: Yep. Speaker Lasse Sorensen: And then they’re done. That’s right. They’re gone. And I don’t wanna be that person either, so you know, if you’re really smart, you you think about that in early in life, and you You know, I always say to myself, I want to retire at fifty. Well, now I’m fifty seven, and it’s not looking good. But but, you know, and when I say retire, it’s not like I ever wanna retire, I always wanna do stuff, but it’d be nice to, you know, not having that financial stress over you all the Speaker Brett Gilliland: time. Absolutely. Speaker Lasse Sorensen: And I think, you know, any restaurateur actually has financial stress just because that’s just part of the job. Speaker Brett Gilliland: Part of the deal. Speaker Lasse Sorensen: Yeah. But it’s important to, you know, interact with people that are understand, you know, and and and that’s with all the skills. You always have to be open to new things and realize that you know, you got to listen to people that are good at what they’re doing. Speaker Brett Gilliland: Yep. Speaker Lasse Sorensen: And then Lasse for advice, that’s very, very important, and you shouldn’t be you know, you shouldn’t be afraid of asking for advice. You you should be humbled by the fact that somebody are able to give you good advice. Speaker Brett Gilliland: Yeah. Yeah. And I think that’s so key. I wanna just go right past that. I mean, the advice getting advice is huge. Speaker Lasse Sorensen: I mean, I Speaker Brett Gilliland: I remember in still, to this day, I’m going hence I’m trying to learn from you today. Right? I think we have to be humble enough to say, I don’t know the answer to everything. Speaker Lasse Sorensen: Yep. Speaker Brett Gilliland: But there’s somebody that’s been doing something that you wanna do for thirty and forty years let’s go steal their knowledge. I would say steal shamelessly. Right? Yeah. Take that one idea away from you, apply it to your life, be humble enough to go out and do it. Right? What I wanna try to pace you now is and it’s it’s on your shirt there. Food is love. Yeah. So food is love. This is a passion project for you. Yep. Tell us about that. Five times Emmy nominated. Speaker Lasse Sorensen: Yeah. I mean, I I would say I probably spent twenty five percent of my efforts on food is love, and it kinda fell into I I was I was invited out to a show in California, and I was on a big big show out there, and somebody in the Midwest, saw me and thought, well, he would be a great person to portray the food scene in St. Louis. And he called me, and I said, no, I’m not interested. I mean, the last thing I need is anymore work. Right? It sounded like a lot of work, and he was very, very persistent and then we finally came to an agreement, you know, the show that he wanted I didn’t wanna do that, and I he said, well, what’s it gonna take? And I said, well, if I’m doing a show, I want to do a show that you’d be You know, I’m a chef. I don’t watch cooking shows. And I hate to see cooking shows where, you know, a lot of them I made up you know, like, and then you You know, but people want to see aggression in the cuisine, in the kitchen, and people throw them, stuff at each other, and yelling at a child. I mean, it’s so far from reality for me that I’m not interested in anything like that. So my show and, you know, I’m I’m I’m blessed that PBS gave me the opportunity, my show is about breaking down barriers for for, you know, for people that for instance, this is a good example. Korean cuisine was my first restaurant that that I did. And and when people talk about Korean cuisine, they go, oh, that kimchi is terrible. And I was unfamiliar with it too, and and just hearing other people talking about Kimchi, I’m like, yeah, that must be terrible. Right? And so I met a wonderful person, a Korean chef that that iron Saint Louis, and he was the the pilot program, if you will, And the amount of things that I learned from one person following him for three days, I mean, that was really it it opened my eyes and I thought to myself, you know, I’m doing something right here because if I’m a master chef, and I thought I knew everything about cooking. Speaker Brett Gilliland: Yeah. Speaker Lasse Sorensen: I know nothing about cooking. Maybe a little bit. Speaker Brett Gilliland: Right. Speaker Lasse Sorensen: But all these different immigrants that comes into this country, and a lot of them are engineers and doctors and stuff, but they can’t work. Like that. Their work ethic is just like mine. They have an incredible work ethic, and their kids are brought up where they have to work in the restaurant after school. And, I mean, it is so in touch with what I think working in a restaurant should be, but when you taste the food of a different country, you know, it just takes you somewhere, it inspires you, it uplifts you, and you want to not only do you want to try Kimchi and you wanna try Korean Korean cuisine, you might even wanna try to go to that country after you see it. So the food is kinda like and that’s why I call it food is love is because once you put something in your mouth and it’s fantastic. In my opinion your heart opens up and you can talk to people that you normally wouldn’t talk to because you start talking about the food And then the conversation can go in another direction, but all of a sudden you have something in common, where today, you know, we are so opposite on everything. So, I was so tired of that whole dynamic of being opposites. I thought to myself, we need something that brings us together. So that’s really the basis for the show is to inspire and uplift communities through food. And I think we’ve done a really, really good job. Like you said, we got five Emmy nominations and I spent as much time on it as I could, but now I have different ideas, and I wanna try some new things on the show. And I think that nothing has changed in the philosophy of the show, but I think by me spending more time on it now, I think some of the things that I want to do, I have time to do now, so that’s I’m going to definitely make time for that. Speaker Brett Gilliland: -Mm Something will be growing. We’ll be sending more of Speaker Lasse Sorensen: that at a high Speaker Brett Gilliland: high level, which is awesome. What what advice so you said you’re fifty seven. What advice would you give the thirty seven year old you? Speaker Lasse Sorensen: Talk to a financial adviser. Speaker Brett Gilliland: I promise I didn’t ask you to tell him to say that. Speaker Lasse Sorensen: No. I know. But really, I mean, And, you know, I I I think I could have been, you know, in a much better situation today if I had done that. I mean, I I think when you’re in the height of your career, you don’t think about those things, but I think you really need to lay a good foundation for the future. I think that that’s very important. And then I think also that you need to set yourself some goals on when you stop. And I think that that that, you know, that’s something that I’ve learned after COVID. I I I put a plan in place after COVID where I said to myself, okay, if it gets to this point, then, you know, my tenure is going to stop. And it’s important to recognize the signs be aware of of, okay. Well, now it’s it’s time to go on to the next chapter. And and then you know, I think I also would tell my thirty seven year old self is is not about getting as many cars as you want many boats and RVs and houses, and everything has to be big, big, big, big, big, big, because that has a tremendous impact on on your future too. Yeah. I mean, I’ve wasted, you know, you know, I’m a big Jimmy Buffett fan. He has this song, you know, I made more money that I could buy Miami, but I pissed it all the way. So I I I did some bad things. You know, I bought a bunch of stuff, and and and I realized, you know, you end up paying taxes and insurance and all that stuff, and it just Lasse, you dry, So a lot of those bad decisions I probably shouldn’t have done, but also you gotta remember when you’re in the height of your career, you wanna have fun. So there is also the fun factor in there. So you gotta recognize that, well, you did all that because you had fun doing it, and and every single thing you purchased was a victory or a milestone in your success, and you could do that. But, you know, I would say to my thirty seven year old self Yeah. You know, you probably yeah. It should have popped the brakes a little earlier. But I’ve had such a wonderful time. And, you know, like, America, for me, from being Danish, I mean, I could never have done what I’ve Speaker Brett Gilliland: — Yeah. — Speaker Lasse Sorensen: what I’ve done here. So I’ve I’ve lived the American dream. I really have. I mean, I’m And I think that’s why I I can sit here and say that, you know, now I want a smaller house. I I don’t wanna mow ten acres. Speaker Brett Gilliland: Yeah. Speaker Lasse Sorensen: And I want something that requires no maintenance. I want to come home, you know, cook a good stew you know, and then sit out on the back porch with a glass of wine and just say, you know, I’m happy. Speaker Brett Gilliland: We’re doing it. Yeah. We’re doing it. Would you would you say thinking is a big part of your deal, you think it a lot? Speaker Lasse Sorensen: Thinking? Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think as an entrepreneur, you know, you think all the time and I think that that’s how you make it. I mean, that’s my the hardest part physically of being an entrepreneur is that you can’t stop thinking. You’re constantly you know, I I solve all my problems when I’m trying to sleep. Yeah. And, unfortunately, the I I I wish there was a way around that, but it’s cautional. I have the peace around me, and you’re saying, okay, tomorrow, this is happening. How do I prevent that from happening on Lasse those things? So you gotta have a pen and paper next to you, so you don’t forget it the next day, but I’ve come up with some brilliant ideas like in the wee hours. And and, you know, thinking is is what makes you going, and — Yeah. — and and and, you know, you adapt, to whatever they throw at you. Speaker Brett Gilliland: Yeah. It’s it’s kind of a weird question. Right? Just say, do you think? I mean, of course, we all think. But I I think where you keep saying the word think a lot. I believe that most people I Speaker Lasse Sorensen: think therefore I am. Speaker Brett Gilliland: They’re think therefore I am, which is a great quote. But I believe that most people don’t slow down enough to think. Right? That it was weird. I gotta do this. I gotta do that. Yeah. I got this email. I got this meeting. I’m a big believer. I’ve been saying it for years, strategic think time. Slow down to speed up. Put an hour and a half on your calendar. I have it on my calendar every week. Hour and a half, I do nothing, but this black journal — Mhmm. — an ink pen and me. Speaker Lasse Sorensen: That’s it. Speaker Brett Gilliland: Right? And I think. Right? Purpose full time thinking. Speaker Lasse Sorensen: And that Speaker Brett Gilliland: that’s why I asked the question because it is for me, it seemed like you are a thinker. Without knowing you really well, that I I think that you do that. Speaker Lasse Sorensen: Well, I mean, and and I think that it like you say, it’s very important So what what I do is I get up in the morning before my three dogs and my wife, and I read the news, but lately, I I have I’ve thought, you know, that I’m wasting so much time looking at Instagram and Facebook and and Twitter and what other people say about the restaurant and what I do and the show and all that. I’m not thing to do myself. And now I watch this thing on my phone that tells you how much time you spend on your device, and it’s scary. It is so scary because like you said, what if I was productive? And I mean, you really don’t need to look at your phone for hours day. It’s an absolute waste. But most of us do, because it’s becoming the most important tool we have. But it takes away from the thinking process that you used to do, it takes away with from the interacting you do with other people, and then I hate when people come to my restaurant, four people they sit down, and then they’re all on their phones, and they’re not talking to each other. Speaker Brett Gilliland: No phone rule. Speaker Lasse Sorensen: Yeah, so but but, you know, there’s a lot of things that you can’t change, and this is one of the things that I know. I told my staff five years ago, that they were not allowed to have any cell phones. And I was losing staff, so then I had to, you know, change the rule where they can have a cell Speaker Brett Gilliland: Right. Speaker Lasse Sorensen: Because they had all these reasons why they had to have the cell phone. And so, there was just nothing you can do. You just completely lost control over that. But really, I mean you don’t you you can you know look at your phone and your break, but everybody’s so used to that instant thing they have to have it. And and and I’m to blame myself too, you know, like, you know, everybody is a food critic now on on Instagram and Facebook. So you you gotta Every morning, look well, of all the people that was in a restaurant yesterday Speaker Brett Gilliland: — Speaker Lasse Sorensen: Yeah. Speaker Brett Gilliland: — Speaker Lasse Sorensen: are they writing anything nice? Are they writing anything bad? And and you just never know. Speaker Brett Gilliland: Yeah. Yeah. This is a shameless plug, but this is the future greater achieving a future greater than your past journal. I created this. It’s now on Amazon. And for me, Everything you’re saying is exactly why I believe in pen and paper. Right? The journaling, the strategic think time. I use this, focus ninety. This is a ninety day Lasse. So I just started, you know, July, August, September — Mhmm. — these ninety days in here. What are my goals? What are my focus ninety? Because to your point, we can start every morning, and then all of a sudden there’s an hour wasted. Right? You know, what the hell just happened. Right? So focus ninety is for the next ninety days, how can I spend the first ninety minutes of every day focus on these three or four or five things? Speaker Lasse Sorensen: Yeah. Speaker Brett Gilliland: It may just be, hey, I wanna do fifty push ups a day. Yeah. Right? Get up and do fifty push ups. It be I need to read ten pages. It may need I need to make a call to my loved one or whoever and just tell them thinking about them, you know, things like that. And so that’s why I think it’s so important for us to think journal, write down, dream, and good things can happen because you’re right. These phones are disastrous and can take advantage of our own time. We just let it happen. So So tell us again, food is love. Working listeners find more of that and find more of you. Speaker Lasse Sorensen: Lasse, so food is love has now morphed into we have our own YouTube channel called Foods Love TV, and I’m actually doing an exciting project for the first time outside of PBS. I’m shooting a show outside of PBS. And it was a gentleman that came to the restaurant, and he said, well, why don’t you do an episode about Denmark or Danish food? And I’m like, well, you know, I haven’t raised any money for it and you know, I have never really thought about that, but it’s a really good idea. I would love to do it. And he said, well, I’ll fund it. So that’s a great opportunity because now what we’re going to do is we’re going to try to create an episode where I get to do and say whatever I wanna Speaker Brett Gilliland: — Mhmm. — Speaker Lasse Sorensen: do. So it’s gonna be a little different. Yeah. And, yeah, I’m still I’m still not sure what we’re gonna call it, but so the show on PBS’ food is love, and I’m thinking about first, I wanted to call it Foodish love unhinged because I was unhinged, but I thought, no, that’s little little too Lasse. So now I’m thinking, food is love stories. So that’s I I I kinda like that because, obviously, I’m now I’m I my show has been a love letter to Saint Louis. And now I got to write a love letter about my own country. Yeah. And, you know, the food I had when I grew up, And so I’m going back in August, and I’m shooting a show. And it’s in a collaboration with a producer over there that that I actually knew from forty years ago. We hadn’t seen each other for forty years, and and it just happened. And I’m like, you know, we know each other, and he said, Yeah. We he said, I taught I tried to teach you how to play a electric bass when high school And I’m like, really? And I was a chef apprentice at the same time. And he said, I I I he said after a few weeks, I remember thinking to myself, I should tell this man, steak to the cooking. This music stuff is not for you. And but you know, so here we are. Forty years later, we meet in Copenhagen. We talk about this program, and I’m I’m now interacting with some people in my Lasse, so I’m really looking forward to this. This is gonna be an unusual thing for us to do something outside of what we’ve been doing. So what I want to do is create an atmosphere on Food Love TV, where you can not only see the shows there is on PBS, but you also see some of these handpicked episodes that I’ve decided I’m gonna do and I’m working on a couple of other ones. And now we’re going to try to see if we can go out and find funding for some of these other things, but at least we’ll have this episode to tell people see. This is what the show could look like if we did it in your city or your country or so Speaker Brett Gilliland: – Speaker Lasse Sorensen: That’s great. Yeah. I love it. Speaker Brett Gilliland: I love it. And where do we find more of you on social media, website, anything like that? Speaker Lasse Sorensen: Well, food is love dot tv, is our website. And, you know, now when we have time to think about it, I’m gonna put up a donate button because it’s very important to get donations for food is love. So I I hope that people would think of that, and I’m planning a couple of fundraisers Speaker Brett Gilliland: — Speaker Lasse Sorensen: Mhmm. — and Tony Piotosso Caffe Napoli. He is a great support of the show. He was on my show. Episode one, season two, and he opened another restaurant called Napoli C. And on August fourteenth, we’re going to have hundred tickets out there. His two hundred and fifty dollars a person, and they he’s gonna create a huge menu, and, you know, the proceeds go to food is love. So That’ll be the first of many, and then we have Lasse, I’m actually planning on doing one in Alton, Illinois, at state street market, which is the people that own that are originally from Cabendale, so we know each other from there, and we are going to do a fundraiser in Alton. But those details are not settled yet. But, you know, just follow me on Facebook, follow foodislove dot tv on Instagram, I have Instagram. I’m Schiff Lasse, and, you know, all of that stuff is gonna come out. We we have some great things planned that we wanna do and and you know, really, it’s so important that we teach the new generation, I think, the importance of of sitting down dining together and and sharing not only food, but wine, and atmosphere course, that’s love, and that’s the most important thing. Right? Speaker Brett Gilliland: That’s right. Need more of it. Speaker Lasse Sorensen: We need more of it. Yeah. Speaker Brett Gilliland: So last question, this is from our friend Abby over here. Your favorite thing cook. You had if you could only cook one thing, what would Speaker Lasse Sorensen: it be? So in my tenure in Los Angeles, I worked at a Hawaiian restaurant and I have this fish that I’m obsessed with. And and I think as a foreigner, an immigrant coming into United States, and then I always wanted to go to Hawaii. So all the names of the fish in in in Hawaii excites me. So my favorite fish is Upaca Paca. K. And I created this dish with a pocket pocket. It has like stewed leeks and sesame seeds, and it has an aniseed blanc I love licorice, licorice is in aniseed, and so that’s my my favorite thing to cook. But being in the location, I’m in here, I have not been able to cook it very often. So one of my ideas for a show I have if I can find the funding is going to Hawaii because there’s also a lot of stuff in Hawaii that intrigues me, and I’m very familiar with Hawaii and food even though I haven’t been there. So that’s on my bucket list of of shows. And if I can get over there and cook some Opaka paka. That’d be great. Speaker Brett Gilliland: I bet Abby could show up and be there at the same time, and she’ll be it’s you at least have one person at the deal. Right? We’re gonna have a ton of people, but Abby’s gonna be there and have some of that. Well, it’s been awesome having you, Chef, and thanks so much for being with us for your success. It was Speaker Lasse Sorensen: a pleasure. It was a pleasure. Thank you.