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Shari Bayer on the Misconceptions of PR for Restaurants and Chefs

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About this episode

Shari Bayer began her career in restaurants and gained experience at places like Charlie Trotter's. She later ventured into the world of public relations, establishing her own agency Bayer PR agency in 2003. Shari launched her podcast, "All in the Industry," by Heritage Radio Network in 2014 as a platform to spotlight behind-the-scenes talent in the hospitality industry. With 350 episodes and counting, her podcast features interviews with renowned chefs and professionals, providing a platform for them to share their experiences, stories, and advice.

This week's episode touches on the role of PR in the restaurant industry, debunking misconceptions and shedding light on the value of having a strategic publicist. Shari emphasizes that PR is about building relationships and effectively telling a story that resonates with the media and the audience. Shari also discusses her book Chefwise, which captures life lessons, tips, and clips from 117 of the best chefs from around the world.

Where to find Shari Bayer: 

Where to find host Josh Sharkey:

What We Cover

(2:02) Shari’s restaurant background

(4:38) How Shari got into PR

(6:10) Restaurant PR and how it works

(10:41) PR for restaurants that aren’t new

(13:21) Social media’s impact on PR

(15:48) The goals of All in the Industry Podcast

(20:27) Memorable conversations on All in the Industry

(22:43) What is Chefwise?

(25:43) How Shari collaborated with chefs around the world

(33:18) Who should ready Chefwise?

(35:05)James Beard Awards and Pellegrino 50 Best

(38:35) How to join La Dame de Escoffier

(41:28) The joy of solo dining


Josh Sharkey [00:00:00]:

Welcome to The meez Podcast. I'm your host, Josh Sharkey, the founder and CEO of meez, the culinary operating system for food professionals. On the show, I'll be interviewing world-class entrepreneurs in the food space that are shifting the paradigm of how we innovate and operate in our industry. Thanks for listening, and I hope you enjoy the show. 


My guest today is Shari Bayer. Shari is a publicist in the food industry, an author, a podcast host, and also a professional solo diner, which we talk about a little bit on the show.She started her career out working for Charlie Trotter, then founded her PR agency Bayer PR in 2003. She launched her podcast All in the Industry on Heritage Radio in 2014, and has interviewed hundreds of incredible chefs and hospitality professionals on the show. Most recently, almost like an extension of the podcast, Shari published her book, Chefwise, which we'll be talking a lot about today.


In the book, she captures life lessons, tips, and clips from 117 of the best chefs from around the world. The book reminds me a lot of Tim Ferriss's Tribe of Mentors, and it's something that you can pick up really at any page and see insights and inspirations from really incredible chefs. I also asked Shari a lot about when the right time is to bring on PR to your restaurant when it might not be the best time to do so, as well as just how to get the most out of your publicist team. And as always, I hope you enjoy the show as much as I do.


Welcome to The meez Podcast. 

Shari Bayer [00:01:43]: 

Thank you for having me.

Josh Sharkey [00:01:46]: 

I'm really excited to talk to you today. I think obviously the impetus primarily is I wanna talk about your book and I want everybody to learn about your book and the why's and who's and and all that jazz. But why don't we start with the obligatory little background on yourself and how you got here today.

Shari Bayer [00:02:01]:

Who am I? 

Josh Sharkey [00:02:02]:

We can get existential if you want to.

Shari Bayer [00:02:02]:

Well, thank you for having me. And yeah, my career is all about the hospitality industry and it kind of, it wasn't a straight path, but the short bio, I guess, is I grew up in Miami and I then went to the University of Michigan. Graduated liberal arts and wasn't really exactly sure what I wanted to do after college. I ended up moving to Chicago and working in restaurants. I was working in restaurants before, as soon as I could drive when I was 16 in Miami, I got a job as a hostess at a Mexican restaurant and wanted to work and wanted to be in the industry. 


So I've always worked in restaurants and in Chicago, I was an office manager at a microbrewery. I went to cooking school thinking I wanted to be a chef. And then I got a job as a server at Charlie Trotter, which was like the high end of my fine dining restaurant experience. I always did a lot of things in restaurants and with chefs, but I still wasn't exactly sure what I wanted to do with a long-term career. So I ended up moving to New York in 1998 and starting in NYU's food studies program. And that led me to some introductions to people. And I had an internship at Food Arts Magazine. And I did some work a little with the James Beard Foundation. I did some recipe testing and things. And then I ended up at a PR firm in 2000 called KB Network News. That was my introduction into PR for restaurants. So that's how I never studied PR. I learned PR from doing it on the job. And we were working at the time with Todd English and Bobby Flay and opening like Sushi Samba and Tao if you were around.

Josh Sharkey [00:04:01]: 

Oh my gosh, yeah I was and I remember those vividly. Hahaha.

Shari Bayer [00:04:06]:

So it was a really, it was like a really amazing introduction into not only like the restaurant scene of New York and bar scene, like what, like what it meant in New York City, but, um, that it's something I could do with my career to work with chefs and restaurants and, and help promote them. And I am not necessarily the one who had a restaurant myself or cooking or, or waiting tables. So that's kind of how I got into PR. Um, And then I started my own company in 2003. So this year is like, I'm hitting all these milestones this year and I'm coming up on 20 years of having my company, which is crazy.

Josh Sharkey [00:04:36]:

That’s nuts.

Shari Bayer [00:04:38]:

So, I've mostly worked with chefs in restaurants over the years. I didn't grow into a big company. I am still basically a one woman show and hire freelancers sometimes. I love doing the work and having a relationship with my client. So. And that then led me, when I hit the 10 year mark of my company, I was sort of thinking, what should I be doing next? So that's how my podcast was born out of the idea of working in PR and knowing a lot of people in the industry who did different things than what I did. So behind the scenes talent and hospitality. And that's how I came up with the idea for All in the Industry, my podcast, which I started in 2014, which is also crazy that it was almost 10 years ago. And that I've had the opportunity to interview some bigger names in the industry, like Danny Meyer and Massimo Petora and Thomas Keller and Ruth Rachel. And I mean, it's kind of beyond me that I've had this opportunity, but, um, I love interviewing people and talking to them. So I just keep going with it. And then sometimes I'm interviewing or talking to people who might be a lesser or no name, but they're a talent. who you might know their work, like Jimmy Youi, who does kitchen design with restaurants.

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