S2E19 | Chef Bill Bigham

SEASON 2: EPISODE NUMBER: 19

EPISODE GUEST: Chef Bill Bigham

After a long career at Proctor & Gamble, Bill Bigham decided he wanted to pursue a new title: Chef.  

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After working for Procter and Gamble for 33 years, Bill Bigham decided he wanted to do something more with his time than hit the links.  The new goal: Chef.  He was accepted into the Inaugural Freshman Class of Johnson and Wales University in Charlotte, N.C., and at the young age of 56, he went back to school.

But golf was not off the table.  While at Johnson & Wales, he was lucky to land an internship at the exclusive Pinehurst Resort during the 2005 U.S. Open.

Bigham, now Chef Bill Bigham, earned an Associates Degree in Culinary Arts, graduating Summa Cum Laude and has since become a personal chef working everything from small dinner parties to grand openings. 

In 2007, Bill was named “Best of the Best” Personal Chef by Charlotte Magazine. 

He gives credit to the ethical culture of Proctor & Gamble and his midwestern work-ethic for his success.  “Tell the truth.  Don’t try to BS people,” says Bigham.

His favorite dish?  While in Italy he had a dish comprised of only 3 ingredients:  homemade pasta, white truffle, olive oil

Top Turkey Tips, “Brine your turkey and don’t overcook your bird.”

– Chef Bill Bigham

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By |2022-04-04T23:40:29-05:00November 22nd, 2021|Paper Trails, PodCasts, Season 2|0 Comments

S2E18 | Magnolia Coffee Co’s Ben Alleman

SEASON 2: EPISODE NUMBER: 18

EPISODE GUEST: Ben Alleman

“I realized that I could change somebody’s day because I’m the first person they’re speaking to, most likely.” Magnolia Coffee Co Production Manager, Ben Alleman, got into the coffee scene because he wanted a change from the restaurant industry. He quickly fell in love with what he calls the ‘counter-culture.’

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“I realized that I could change somebody’s day because I’m the first person they’re speaking to, most likely.” Magnolia Coffee Co’s Production Manager, Ben Alleman, got into the coffee scene because he wanted a change from the restaurant industry. He quickly fell in love with what he calls the ‘counter-culture.’

And working with coffee isn’t too dissimilar from the culinary scene. “There’s a little bit of science, culinary, bartending,” says Alleman. “It’s culinary on multiple levels because we’re starting with an agricultural product.”

With more than a decade’s worth of experience in the industry, Alleman still feels he’s learning all the time with the many variables that come with coffee. From learning the machinery to the different brewing techniques, “It’s constant evolution and learning process.”

Not unlike wine, coffee’s quality is determined by climate, elevation, soil, weather conditions, and how the beans are dried and cared for before they come to Magnolia in their green form. There are worldwide barista competitions from brewing the best cup and distinguishing the different roasts similarly to a sommelier. Some of the finest tuned palettes can pick out the region, elevation, and variety

When Alleman began his career in coffee, he scoffed at the idea of being able to discern the different beans. “There’s no way you can look at that bean and tell me it’s an Ethiopian,” says Alleman. “I can do it from across the room now. it’s just a thing you learn over time.”

Magnolia’s goal is to make the top 3-5% of coffee accessible to the everyday coffee drinker. While Alleman himself hasn’t gone to the origin spots of the coffee, Magnolia’s owner has traveled extensively to the different growing regions.

But even with the best beans, it always comes back to that counter culture and the barista behind the bar. Alleman says the best response to a first sip is when someone says, ‘Wow, I don’t need to put anything in this!’

Says Alleman, “You can really change somebody with a really good cup of coffee.”

“You can really change somebody with a really good cup of coffee.”

– Ben Alleman, Magnolia Coffee Co

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By |2022-04-04T23:40:42-05:00November 17th, 2021|Paper Trails, PodCasts, Season 2|0 Comments

S2E17 | Lindsay Anvik of Babe & Butcher Charcuterie Boards

SEASON 2: EPISODE NUMBER: 17

EPISODE GUEST: Lindsay Anvik

Through the ebbs and flows of financial crises, pandemics, and life’s hardships, Manolo’s Latin Bakery owner, Manolo Betancur has continued to persist and focus on people first to find business success.

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“I’ve never met a cheese I didn’t like.” 
 
Meet the Babe behind Babe & Butcher, Charlotte’s iconic charcuterie board company, Lindsay Anvik. 
 
Fun fact:  Before the charcuterie biz took off, Lindsay worked with Shady Records at the peak of Eminem & 50 Cent’s careers. 
 

After years of various jobs, she felt like she wanted to break out of the corporate machine and start her own marketing company.

 
“I bet on myself,” recalls Anvik on launching her business and landing speaking engagements.  Naturally shy, having never done a speaking engagement before, she told the potential client, “if I get anything less than 5-star reviews I will pay for everyone’s ticket.”  This gamble paid off, snowballing into more engagements and clients.  
 
The charcuterie board biz was born out of a hobby.  Always a fan of cooking, Anvik’s friends encouraged her to make boards for events.  She first brought them to a charity event and they were a hit.  Her entrepreneur wheels began turning…
 
Always a marketer, Anvik knew she needed a strong brand, working with her partner to develop the name (she’s the babe, he’s the butcher).  
 
Initially overwhelmed by 2 boards a day, Babe & Butcher’s skyrocketing popularity has allowed their business to grow to the capability of putting out 150 boards daily.  
 
Along the way, Anvik learned some important business lessons that she shares;
1) It’s critical to know what you’re weaknesses are
2) Mistakes are important for growth
3) Take the leap – “just do it and learn from it in hindsight”
4) Surround yourself with smart people of different strengths – “you can’t be a one man band and grow”
 
And one that has been crucial to Babe & Butcher’s success in the age of social media:  people want a visual experience.
 
“Don’t skimp on packaging – you have to have something that is fun to interact with.”  
 
And that’s music to our ears.

“I think the company has grown because we’ve worked with other small businesses and helped each other.”

– Lindsay Anvik, Babe & Butcher

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By |2022-03-23T13:32:36-05:00October 4th, 2021|Paper Trails, PodCasts, Season 2|0 Comments

S2E16 | Manolo Betancur of Manolo’s Latin Bakery

SEASON 2: EPISODE NUMBER: 16

EPISODE GUEST: Manolo Betancur

Through the ebbs and flows of financial crises, pandemics, and life’s hardships, Manolo’s Latin Bakery owner, Manolo Betancur has continued to persist and focus on people first to find business success.

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Manolo Betancur has a plan — to bring his Latin bakery concept to the poorest towns of NC in hopes to create jobs, growth, and spark life on desolate Main Streets that can use some love.

It’s this attitude that has helped his Charlotte, NC bakery, Manolo’s Latin Bakery, find success. “Business is not about money, business is about people,” says the former Colombian Navy vet.  A Colombian native, Betancur grew up ‘under the influence of the U.S.’  He came to America and studied at King University in TN before making his way to Charlotte.
 
After taking over his ex-in-laws bakery, there were a few things he knew would be imperative to success.  He did not want to create a niche Colombian bakery, instead offering a broad selection of Latin cultures from Cuban pastelitos, to Mexican bread, and Argentinean empanadas.  And he believes businesses have a social responsibility to give back to the community and pay employees what they need to live in a metropolitan city.  He strives to create a culture of respect and harmony, knowing the importance of hiring people smarter than him. “I’m a very bad baker,” laughs Betancur.
 
Through the ebbs and flows of financial crises, pandemics, and life’s hardships, Betancur has continued to persist.  Failure is not an option for him.  “The American dream is still alive. What you need to do is just stand up and work hard, invest in yourself and invest in knowledge. Challenge and difficult times, they’re always going to be there.”

“Business is not about money, business is about people.”

– Manolo Betancur, Manolo’s Latin Bakery

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By |2022-03-23T13:32:36-05:00September 28th, 2021|Paper Trails, PodCasts, Season 2|0 Comments

S2E15 | Stomp, Chomp & Roll Restaurant Group

SEASON 2: EPISODE NUMBER: 15

EPISODE GUEST: Will Bigham

Vaulted Oak Brewing took up shop in what was once a BB&T bank and kept a lot of the elements, including the pneumatic tubes formerly used by drive-up customers. 

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Owner of the successful Charlotte, N.C. restaurant group, Stomp, Chomp & Roll, Will Bigham grew up in the franchise biz. His dad started off as a furniture salesman, but in an effort to move back to the south, he looked into franchising a Burger King. He started with a location in Albemarle, NC (our neck of the woods) and has expanded to 20+ locations since. Will’s childhood was in these Burger Kings, helping clean the drive-through as a kid and eventually working the window. “It’s a lot of getting your hands dirty – people don’t see a lot of the hard work that goes into it.” There was just something about the restaurant business that resonated with Bigham. He enrolled at Johnson & Wales and began his own journey in the industry. Working in popular Charlotte, N.C., and New Jersey restaurants, showing up early to learn how to bake the dishes he served. Bigham learned the ropes of business ownership by opening a dessert business with a pastry chef partner. “I’m an everyday learner so I’m just learning all the time.” But two big lessons of the biz: Patience & Hustling. And learning how to be solution-focused without blame. While operating the dessert business he opened Mama Fu’s fast-casual Asian restaurant, which he eventually flipped to what is now the Improper Pig barbecue joint. Then launched the popular breakfast spot, Flying Biscuit, and the Pizza Peel. Fun fact: his crust recipe was inspired by a delicious slice he had at Shakori Hills Music Festival and advice from “American Pie” author, Peter Reinhart. “I’m into the process of food,” says Bigham about finding joy in creating something people truly savor. With so many franchises, he’s learned a thing or two about locations. “I think you can build a business anywhere but the location is huge. But you can build a successful rest anywhere by taking care of people.” Bigham’s lunchtime orders at his Stomp, Chomp & Roll’s Restaurants: Pizza Peel – Godfather Pizza, Kitchen Sink Burrito Improper Pig – No Pig Sandwich, and his random mix of putting slaw on the black-eyed pea salsa Flying Biscuit – Black Bean Cakes & Creamy Dream Grits His tip for young entrepreneurs? Before you launch a business, work for one that’s similar to see if you like it. And be open to everything that’s coming your way.

“It’s a lot of getting your hands dirty – people don’t see a lot of the hard work that goes into it.”

– Will Bigham, Stomp, Chomp & Roll

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By |2022-03-23T13:32:36-05:00September 21st, 2021|Paper Trails, PodCasts, Season 2|0 Comments

S2E14 | Vaulted Oak Brewery

SEASON 2: EPISODE NUMBER: 14

EPISODE GUEST: Kiel Arrington

Vaulted Oak Brewing took up shop in what was once a BB&T bank and kept a lot of the elements, including the pneumatic tubes formerly used by drive-up customers. 

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Head Brewer, Kiel Arrington, takes Nick on a mini-tour of the brewery and what goes into making your favorite beers.

Owning a business was always in the back of Arrington’s mind and Vaulted Oak wasn’t his first attempt at starting a brewery business.  In 2015, he pitched a brewery to investors and they didn’t bite.  But Arrington wasn’t deterred and counts it as a good learning experience.

“It took years, up to a decade, in the food and bev industry to grow into where I am today,” says Arrington.

Years passed and Arrington started a family but didn’t give up on the brewery idea.  He started looking at the possibility of opening a bottle shop near Lake Lure when his realtor turned him onto a former BB&T bank location that was just bought.  

Arrington brought on business partner, Johnie Jones, and signed the lease in September 2019.  Next step – he had to bring on investors.  In the 11th hour, Arrington got it done.  (the space almost became a Pop-eye’s!)  

After breaking ground in July 2020 amidst a pandemic and dealing with delays and supply shortages, Vaulted Oak Brewing finally opened its doors on June 8, 2021.

And the brewery was immediately embraced.

“Overwhelming and humbling were phrases I used a lot of times.  We didn’t expect that level of support, especially in a pandemic,” reflects Arrington on the community support.

“Community was always a pillar of our business model. we wanted to be more than just a place to get a beer.”

Arrington’s advice for business owners:

  • Never burn bridges because never know when you’re going to need someone’s relationship.
  • Fail and fail often.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. 

“It took years, up to a decade, in the food and bev industry to grow into where I am today.”

– Kiel Arrington, Vaulted Oak Brewing

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By |2022-03-23T13:32:37-05:00September 14th, 2021|Paper Trails, PodCasts, Season 2|0 Comments

S2E13.2 | Cheats Cheesesteaks, A Cheez Whiz Smothered Biz from The Crunkleton’s Head Chef & Bar Manager – Paper Trails Podcast

SEASON 2: EPISODE NUMBER: 13.1

EPISODE GUEST: Chef Greg Balch & Ryan Hart

After finding creative ways to keep the Crunkleton afloat during the pandemic, Chef Greg Balch and Ryan Hart launched a side-hustle, pop-up cheesesteak business.  It quickly took off and they’re opening a brick and mortar soon.

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Meet two of the minds that make both the Crunkleton Charlotte and Cheat’s Cheesesteaks on the must-list of Charlotte, N.C.’s culinary scene: Executive Chef Greg Balch and Bar Manager Ryan Hart.

After finding creative ways to keep the Crunkleton afloat during the pandemic, Balch and Hart launched a side-hustle, pop-up cheesesteak business.  It quickly took off and they’re opening a brick and mortar soon. 

When it comes to what is the next for the food scene, both Balch and Hart agree that everyone has become accustomed to paying for delivery and pickup.  Inspired by this new dining trend, Cheat’s Cheesesteaks will be a 500 square foot, no seat restaurant, only focused on pickup orders.  

The secret to Cheat’s success?  It could be their popular slo-mo cheese-pour videos on Instagram.  Or it could be Balch & Hart’s dedication to finding the perfect meat, the ideal cheese, and the ultimate flavor convo to please the masses. 

 
 

“What if we’re just super honest and call it ‘cheat day?'”

– Chef Greg Balch on the Origin of Cheat’s Cheesesteak Parlor

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By |2022-03-23T13:32:37-05:00September 6th, 2021|Paper Trails, PodCasts, Season 2|0 Comments

S2E13.1 | The Crunkleton – Paper Trails Podcast

SEASON 2: EPISODE NUMBER: 13.1

EPISODE GUEST: Chef Greg Balch & Ryan Hart

Meet two of the minds that make both the Crunkleton Charlotte and Cheat’s Cheesesteaks on the must-list of Charlotte, N.C.’s culinary scene: Executive Chef Greg Balch and Bar Manager Ryan Hart.

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Meet two of the minds that make both the Crunkleton Charlotte and Cheat’s Cheesesteaks on the must-list of Charlotte, N.C.’s culinary scene: Executive Chef Greg Balch and Bar Manager Ryan Hart.

The Crunkleton bar originated in Chapel Hill by owner, Gary Crunkleton, who is brought the craft cocktail scene to N.C. and who coded a majority of the amaros the were before unavailable to the state.

They fired up the Charlotte Crunkleton’s 9 foot, wood-fired hearth and hit the ground running… all the way to pop-up cheesesteak stand with droves of obsessive fans.

Ryan and Greg share their journies through the restaurant industry and how they combine their experience to create an atmosphere at the Crunkleton that is respectful of their staff, customer-driven, and at top of the culinary game in Charlotte.

And if you need a cheat day in your diet, stay tuned for Part 2: Cheats Cheesesteaks – next!

“Do What’s Expected…and Do A Bunch of Other Sh!t Too”

– Ryan Hart, The Crunkleton 

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By |2022-03-23T13:32:37-05:00August 30th, 2021|Paper Trails, PodCasts, Season 2|0 Comments

S2E12 | Sustainability in Style with CT Commercial Paper – Paper Trails Podcast

SEASON 2: EPISODE NUMBER: 12

EPISODE GUEST: CT Commercial Paper

We may be a paper company, but this crew is makin’ that paper! We get a fascinating view inside the workings of CT Commercial Paper in Oakboro, NC with Kat Palm & Mollie Guffy.

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Not only do they make the best paper products (Single Roll Tissue, Jumbo Roll Tissue, Hard Wound Roll Towels, Kitchen Roll Towels, Folded Towels, Napkins, Toilet Seat Covers, and more) but their products do not require the destruction and depletion of the world’s precious natural resources. They utilize sustainable virgin pulp and also one hundred percent post-consumer waste substrates. 

“I never thought I would say I’m excited about toilet paper, but I am,” says Kat Palm, president of CTCP who explains there is so much science behind each roll of toilet paper, from the trees to the substrates, to the absorbency and brightness, that she looks at all products with new eyes now. 

CTCP is proud of the quality product they have created and the positive feedback they get from their consumers. 

As of 2021, they have six warehouses located throughout the Central and Western United States, with further expansion planned in the Southern and Eastern portions of the U.S. Y’all know when your office is skimpin on the good paper products — have your boss hit up CT Commercial Paper for that good good.

“I never thought I would say I’m excited about toilet paper, but I am,

– Kat Palm, CTCP

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By |2022-03-23T13:32:38-05:00August 11th, 2021|Paper Trails, PodCasts, Season 2|0 Comments

S2E11 | The Smokin’ Success Story of BBQ Master Lewis “Sweet Lew” Donald: Paper Trails Podcast

SEASON 2: EPISODE NUMBER: 11

EPISODE GUEST: Lewis “Sweet Lew” Donald

After a wide and varied journey through all sides of the restaurant industry, bbq fan Lewis Donald launched his shop, Sweet Lew’s, in the Belmont neighborhood of Charlotte, NC because he felt Charlotte needed a true barbecue shop and “I felt like that was my best avenue to be me, have fun and I could see myself doing it for the rest of my life.”

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Originally from Cleveland, Lew’s moved all over – Hawaii, Tennessee, Georgia, West Virginia, and L.A. where he learned Spanish.  At the “Swanky” Greenbrier Culinary Apprenticeship Program, he had an invaluable deep dive into the ingredients, prep and everything that goes into cooking. The posh Greenbrier may not seem like a BBQ pit haven, but it was where Lew grew to love the style of cooking. Pitmaster, Ken Hess, would wheel in his trailer smoker and have the apprentices help with barbecue competitions. Lew continued to pepper in barbecue throughout his career and developed a lasting fondness for it. So in 2018, he set forth opening Sweet Lew’s BBQ. 

What he learned from the opening: “I think every restauranteur in Charlotte goes through the same thing — everything new in Charlotte is great.” The first 90 days are full of free press and booming sales. “Then there comes that time in Charlotte you constantly have to reinvent yourself.” Lew stays in his lane…want boiled peanuts, Brunswick stew and brisket? He’s your guy. But he’s not changing up the menu and adding items for publicity. 

He focuses on simplicity, inspired by the different regional BBQ styles. And while he does have house-made sauces, he doesn’t sauce his meat. He wants to be a master of the BBQ biz, not a jack of all trades. ‘We want to be here for generations,” Lew says, hopefully, he’ll feed families for years to come. Fun Sauce Facts: The mustard-based sauce is an SC thing because of German settlers Big Bob Gibson is credited as the originator of white sauce in Alabama NC is regionally divided – some areas focusing on vinegar-based sauces, others tomato-based Last thoughts: Are you thinking about starting a business?  Lew’s advice: “Talk to somebody before you do it – talk to many people. Do your homework, do your research, and really think about what you’re getting yourself into. It’s hard to translate what you’re doing at home or what you’ve done for your family or friends — just because you make the best pie at thanksgiving doesn’t mean it’s going to become a business.” 

“Just because you make the best pie at thanksgiving doesn’t mean it’s going to become a business.”

– Lewis Donald, Owner Sweet Lew’s BBQ

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By |2022-03-23T13:32:38-05:00July 27th, 2021|Paper Trails, PodCasts, Season 2|0 Comments

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