I think it's just that I wanted it so bad and when I realized I could do it, I sold my dental practice and uh I got a $10 an hour job at uh a restaurant in my hometown working as a line cook.
Hey there, I'm Goli Kalkhoran and this is Lessons From A Quitter, where we believe that it's never too late to start over. No matter how much time or money you've spent getting to where you are, if ultimately you are not happy, then it's time to get out. If you're feeling stuck and you feel like there's gotta be more, there's gotta be a way to feel fulfilled and excited about what you do, then this is the podcast for you. Each week, I will sit down with an inspiring guest who quit their professional career in order to forge their own path and create a life that they love.
Welcome back. Thank you for joining me again. I am so excited for the episode today. We have such an incredible story with Dr. Peter Glatz, we will jump into that in a second. But we just had our first live event last Thursday and I am just filled with gratitude. I I swear if you told me a year ago that I would put on a live event where I had sponsors giving me free food and desserts and the venue and I would bring together people for a live podcast recording and we would talk about their quitting journeys and their dreams and connect. I mean, I would've told you you're crazy because that sounds insane. Like I used to think that people that put on events and things like this like, you know, had some kind of qualification or knew what they were doing. And it turns out that's not true because I have no idea what I'm doing and I still put it on and it was amazing. And it just really reinforces everything I've learned through this podcast but really being on this side of it, uh it reinforces that you can do anything you wanna do, just start now. Like you we're all kind of waiting for this, I don't know, stamp of approval or permission slip or someone to say like okay, now you're ready. And so we keep waiting and that's never gonna happen and you don't need it. I'm now learning that myself um that you can start where you're at and you can just decide that you wanna do something and that's the amazingness of today and the internet is you could do that and put it out there. You know, I started this podcast a year ago and I still don't have like a large list. I didn't have a ton of people I knew, the event wasn't like hundreds of people but it was dozens of people that came together and I love this community that's growing from this podcast and it's growing slowly and I love that. I'm filled with gratitude. I'll never thank you enough because I think this is just such a cool thing that I get to experience. And I really want that for you guys so I really want you to take time to think about what it is that would fill you up, what it is that you wanna create in this world and create it. Like start doing it now, don't wait until you have some kind of experience or built up some kind of audience, just start small where you're at. It is a really, really cool feeling and a really cool experience. And I hope that you all get to experience that. So with that, I wanna jump into this amazing episode that we have with Dr. Peter Glatz today. I originally learned about Peter's story in Bon Appetit magazine and they had interviewed him because his story is just so unique and so special. Peter was a dentist for over 40 years and cooking had always been kind of a love of his but he did it as a hobby. But it wasn't until later in his career that he started really exploring his love of cooking in a more professional way. And he started reaching out to really big named chefs in prominent restaurants and he asked them if he could stage for them which means that he would work for free for a couple of days or a week in order to learn from them. And I just love so many things about his story, mainly that I think most people when they're 60 or 65 have kind of like counted themselves out like it's too late for me to start over. It's too late for me to do anything new. And I think most people that don't have any experience in the kitchen would stop themselves from reaching out to these bigger chefs and saying like hey, can I work for you for free? And I just love that he didn't stop himself. And he started staging and meanwhile, he was also cooking at different music festivals that he would go to. And he started converting a bus to take to different music festivals and different places to do kind of pop-up dinners. And he ended up seeing a job for a line cook at Nonesuch restaurant, which it was named by Bon Appetit in 2018 as the best restaurant in America. It's in Oklahoma City. He decided to apply for it and he got the job. He ended up moving him and his wife and all their stuff to Oklahoma City to work. And he's now working as a line cook, which is a very physically taxing job. It's like 12-hour days but it's doing what he loves to do. And I love getting his perspective on doing new things, putting yourself out there, starting later in life and really going after your dreams. I think his story is such an inspiration and we can learn so much from him. So without further ado, let's jump in and talk to Peter.
Hi Peter. Thank you so much for joining me today.
Oh hello. Happy to be here.
I am so happy to get into your incredible story. And I wanna talk about all the amazing stuff that you are doing now in the kitchen. But before that I wanna kind of start back. We tend to start with the first part of your career. So why don't you let us know what led you to originally become a dentist and what your career looked like?
Well, I started out in college with intention of pursuing a career in art. About midway through my freshman year, I met my future wife. When we decided to become engaged, I thought maybe I should plan for myself a a career that made more money than being an artist. And I felt like dentistry would utilize some of the same skill sets that being an artist required at a much higher pay scale. So that basically was why I decided to go into dentistry.
And what was your career like as a dentist? Did you like doing it? I mean, was it more of it provides stability and a good paycheck so I'm gonna stick with this or what was it like for you?
Well, it offered the advantages that I was able to uh provide for my family, uh live in a nice home, pay for uh college for my children, but I never really felt like my heart was in the right place. Uh and I did everything I could to bring art into dentistry. And I also tried to avoid the um oh, the aspects of uh running a business. I never went into dentistry to make a fortune and I spent a lot of time and a lot of money on extra training. I became involved with uh dental implants very early in the game. I traveled to Sweden to obtain training from the developers. I ended up doing all of my own laboratory work so working with my hands a lot but the day to day practice of dentistry uh was just very stressful. I'm kind of thin-skinned. And really most people in the dental chair are they're having a problem dealt with that they wish they didn't have to be to begin with. And a lot of times I take some of the emotions that the patients would express and internalize it. And I understand it wasn't me that they're expressing anxiety about, it's the situation that they're in but it just was really hard on me. And oh, about midway through the career, I just wished I could do something else but that was a time when my children were getting ready to start college. And uh you just have to man up and do what life asks of you.
Right. And I think that there is like societal pressure and just this common thought process that like work isn't fun and you just have to do it. So I'm assuming is that kind of the attitude that you took? Like did you ever actually consider like what else you might be able to do or was it kind of head down I gotta keep doing this because I have to provide for my family?
Well, I went through a period where I felt resentment that life had uh defined my career path for me. You work through those emotions and then say okay, you know, that's the way it is but you know, what are you gonna do about it besides just feel sorry for yourself? And I considered other options like teaching. And uh for a while I had a pretty busy lecture career parallel to my dental practice and I traveled a lot and did uh training courses on dental implants for people. And I enjoyed that a lot but the day-to-day grind back in the dental office, it was leaving me unfulfilled.
Okay. So now parallel to your dental career, can you tell us like what your start was or what I guess your history is with cooking and how you got involved in kind of being in the kitchen?
Well, I've always loved to cook and in college I would get the key to the kitchenette at the dormitory and bring a stack of books and uh start baking bread on a Friday night. And that was a nice way of meeting people, the aroma, the bread’d draw people in. That's actually how I met my late wife. Shifting ahead, when we became married, my wife was uh a very good cook and a dominant force in the kitchen. And I sort of evolved into being the dishwasher and salad maker but whenever I had an opportunity to do something, you know, run my own show, I enjoyed it thoroughly. I tackled the complex recipes that even now I look back upon that and um am surprised I was able to pull it off. I loved going to music festivals. I loved camping. And that was my opportunity to, you know, be the head of the kitchen and did that quite a bit. My wife later in her life was a uh food writer for a newspaper and she passed away. Her editor asked me if I would take over her column and you know, I was like I'll give it a try, but you know, I'm a dentist, not a cook. And to gain more experience and background, I started staging at restaurants. For readers that aren't familiar with uh how restaurants work, a stage is a unpaid apprenticeship. So basically, I approach a chef that is doing something interesting and say can I spend a couple days with you? And I I was so fortunate to establish your relationship with a chef in Chicago, Iliana Regan. She has a Michelin star restaurant called Elizabeth and she became a very good friend. And over periods of several years, I go there every few months for uh a long weekend and train in her kitchen. She has a very wide-reaching reputation and that opened doors for me to get into other restaurants uh by just saying I’d staged with Iliana.
Right. So you said that you've developed this relationship, when you first reached out to stage with her, did you know her or was it just like a cold email or a cold reach out to go work in her
I read an article about her restaurant and it just sounded fascinating to me. And she produces a uh tasting menu, uses social media a lot. So I was able to see these beautifully plated little dishes. And I felt that well as a dentist, I'm used to doing tiny, precise things with tweezers. And so the transition from, you know, the dental office to the kitchen of that sort of restaurant was a fairly logical jump.
At this time that you reached out, how old were you?
Well, this would've been about six years or ago, so I was uh 60.
Okay, so you're 60. You've never been trained as a chef. You've never worked in a kitchen. Most people, you know, even if that's their dream to try and go work in a kitchen or learning about staging would say like who am I to contact this person? Like this chef has, you know, trained chefs under her. Like why would she let me come in the kitchen? What was it do you think that like prompted you to reach out when I think most people would kind of feel this like imposter syndrome of like who am I to do this?
I think number one uh Chef Iliana is a very loving, embracing individual. And the second point is I went in humbly honest and said that uh, you know, I'm a little old. I'm a little slow but I'm very neat and I'm very precise and I really would like to learn. And she gave me the opportunity. I don't know that I would've gotten that kind of response everywhere but once I could go to another chef and say that I've staged with Iliana Regan at Elizabeth, they were willing to give me a shot.
Right. When you were starting this, when you started out with Iliana, Chef Iliana Regan, was it just like as a fun hobby? Like you just wanted to go on a weekend to learn and be in that environment? Or did you think like this is something I wanna pivot to?
Well, in the beginning, I think that it was just fulfilling uh curiosity. I have to say that at the time this all started, I was chronically overweight. I had a failing hip. It was very, very hard for me to be on my feet. I had to take, you know, pain medication, every four hours to get through. So doing this as a career at that time was just not realistic. Now, jumping ahead a little bit, shortly after I had my hip replacement. About a month and a half later, my wife unexpectedly passed away. [So sorry.] And and actually when her editor approached me about taking over her column, they he took me out to lunch and he said by the way, I get together every morning at seven o'clock with a group of people our age and work out at a CrossFit gym and I think it would be beneficial to you. And getting up at seven in the morning to work out at a CrossFit gym had no appeal to me at the time and I used uh the fact that I'm still under in physical therapy from my hip replacement uh to, you know, put off the uh commitment. And then a week later, another friend invited me over for dinner and he said the same thing. It turned out he worked out at the same gym. And so I really, it kind of almost was like an intervention. I sort of got forced to show up. And the trainer, the coach was uh individual in in his seventies, healthy and strong as an ox. And he looked at me and said man you need some help. I wanna work with you one on one an hour a day for 90 days seven days a week. And so I committed to doing that and it was it was torture. It was hard but he was also a really good motivator. And, you know, I was never a jock. So, you know, being in the gym was never a comfortable place for me. In fact, a week after I started working out or 10 days or so, the CrossFit corporate uh sent photographer and a reporter to the gym to do an article about this longevity program. And they ended up making a video of me that uh they, I think the title was a new beginning and they put it on their website and it got, you know, thousands and thousands of hits. But I look back at it now and, you know, I was just like a beached whale at the time. They're showing films of me trying to, you know, stand up from, you know, sitting on a wooden box or hanging from the bar and trying to raise my knees up. But in that time, they interviewed him and uh he said that uh, you know, what I don't need at this time of my life, having just lost my wife uh recovering from surgery was that I don't didn't need sympathy. I needed hope. And he provided me that. So I stuck with it. I did the work and, you know, lost 80 pounds. [My goodness.] I I was able to get off of 30 years of uh blood pressure medication. And when this whole thing was happening, I started to realize wait a second, I physically can handle the rigors of working in a kitchen. And so I sold my dental practice and part of the uh contract was that I had to work two days a week for the purchaser so that my patient base would transition over. And so I had extra time and uh I got a $10 an hour job at uh a restaurant in my hometown working as a line cook. [Oh my.] And I did that for six months.
Wait, can we just stop really quickly there? Just right in there when you're selling it. So when you were gonna sell the business, were you at a place where like you were, even if you didn't go into cooking, like were you considering retiring or was this just because you wanted to start maybe, you know, a new career in cooking that you decided like you need to part ways with the dental office?
I think it was more of a situation of I looked at this big old house. I had a 1860 farmhouse on two and a half acres. Um that was gorgeous historic house but it was needing a new roof and needed a new septic tank and thinking I'm, you know, gonna be working, you know, for the 10 years just old empty house. The kids are all grown. My wife is gone and I don't need this much space. And so I thought if I sell the house, I sell the dental practice, then I can start fresh.
Oh, wow. And so a lot of people though, in that situation, I think we tend to get in our own way. And and again, going back to what society kind of imposes on us is this, you know, I'm sure you were making much more than $10 an hour as a dentist. And so a lot of people think I can't go from being, you know, this established dentist that has my own practice to working as a line cook for $10 an hour. What do you think allowed you to kind of decide that I don't really care that I have this prestigious practice and that I, you know, you’re quote unquote successful as a dentist and you're making good money but I'm gonna give all that up to go do this very intense, you know, being a line cook is what being on your feet for 10, 12 hours a day. It's a very hard job [yeah.] In your sixties. I mean, how was it that you kind of propelled yourself to do this?
I think it's just that I wanted it so bad. And when I realized I could do it [right.] You know, it's like why do people rock climb, you know? Uh… [right.] the challenge of it all is exciting. It's what uh moves you forward it, you know, it's your oxygen.
Did you have anybody in your life like your children or friends or, you know, family kind of questioning like why are you doing this? Why are you selling your practice to go work in a kitchen?
Oh, they rolled their eyes every time I brought the idea up and there were, you know, several aspects to it. Number one, you know, what kind of fool was I to think that I could work in in an environment where everybody else is in their twenties. There may have been the thought that this was just a passing whim. It's, you know, my rebound from having lost my wife but that's not what it was for me. I would really wanted to make a commitment. And uh and actually I fell in love. Um I got married on April 1st uh this year. On our plan was to take off, give up housekeeping, take off. We, I have a school bus that um I converted into a mobile home mobile kitchen and I just wanted to travel around the country and doing popup cooking events and getting money for diesel fuel to move on to the next spot. And then, well, jumping to my current situation, I heard about uh Nonesuch restaurant in Oklahoma City from Bon Appetit magazine last August. And they had a nine-minute video online. And I was just so deeply moved by it. It reminded me of the environment that I worked at when I was at Elizabeth restaurant in Chicago. And I remember saying to my fiancé at the time, I would really love to work here. And I started following him on Instagram and they uh posted one day they were looking for a line cook and sent a resume to an email address. And I thought what the hell, I sent my seven-page dental resume with a half page, you know, addendum of my cooking experience. And to my amazement surprise, they uh contacted me and said we'd like you to come for a working interview. So in February I drove to Oklahoma City and uh I was there for two days. I screwed a whole bunch of things up, thought, you know, after the first day, well, nothing's gonna come from this but, you know, I'm here for two days and I'll see what I can learn from it. To my shock, they uh offered me the job.
That is incredible.
Yeah and I called my uh fiancé up and said uh would you have any interest in moving to Oklahoma City? They offered me the job. And she was excited for me. And even though it's not what we had planned on doing um she saw that it was a tremendous opportunity and, you know, gave me the go ahead on it.
That is incredible. And so now you have been at Nonesuch for how long?
Uh I started on April 16th.
Wow. So and how has that been? What's your typical work week? Like how many days are you working? How many hours?
I work Wednesdays through Saturdays. Um I get there at 11 o'clock and I get home about one in the morning. On my feet the whole time. Uh I have to admit that by middle of the afternoon, my legs are tired, my back's tired. I'm not sure that I'm going to, you know, make it through. And then when dinner service starts, there's a adrenaline rush. And by the time the last guest leaves the restaurant, we have a hour of cleanup. I have so much energy that by the time I get home, it takes me two hours to wind down so it's going really well. And the culture in the restaurant is amazing. And, you know, even though I'm more than twice the age of the oldest person in that kitchen, I can match everybody. Maybe not strength-wise but stamina-wise.
That is incredible. I mean, the story is so amazing. And I first read about your story in Bon Appetit magazine. And I think that it really is everything that I'm trying to show through this podcast is that like it's never too late to do something that you love. And I love that you had the confidence and the guts or whatever it is to say that like the first part of your life or whatever you’ve done up until now doesn't define you. And there are ways. And I think like there were so many things that could have stopped you. I think this is a very physical job. It's something that most people would think you need some kind of experience or training or you need a degree. And I think a lot of times we just stop ourselves and I love that you just let yourself go for something that you love.
One of the things that my current chef, uh Colin Stringer, said that he likes to hire people that haven't had a lot of experience because then he doesn't have to untrain them. I'm coming in as a somewhat blank slate. And it also happened that he's a big follower of Chef Iliana Regan. So he knew that I had functioned in a similar work environment. [Right.] But I think the important thing that I would like to impart and quite honestly, I'd like what I'm doing to have a higher meaning than me just getting to fulfill myself cooking food. I would like to be able to inspire or influence others because the the happiness that I'm personally experiencing is is the kinda thing I wanna share. I want other people to feel this as well. And you know, the first step is really creating a vision of what you wanna do. After my wife died, as I mentioned, she was a food writer. She had developed friendships with Zingerman organization. Zingerman is a high-end deli in Ann Arbor, Michigan that is renowned for customer service. And it's actually now a, you know, multi-million dollar organization. They conduct corporate training seminars. And after my wife passed away, they reached out to me and invited me to, to what they call their visioning seminar complimentary. So I went up to Ann Arbor and it basically is you spend your time clarifying, writing down what your vision is, you know, as a necessary first step to anything. And so I went through that process at the workshop. And uh the vision that I wrote down is not exactly what I’m living right now but it's real darn close. [Yeah.] You know, so that's step number one is creating that vision. And then step number two is doing the work to make it possible. Uh just wishing something is not gonna make it happen. You know, it's committing to doing the work and I work damn hard. [Yeah.] Physically I work damn hard to get myself capable of doing the work and I invested a lot of time and money picking up the training. I spent a week in a kitchen in uh at Joe Beef restaurant in Montreal and uh, you know, spending, renting a in a an apartment for a week. And uh the travel costs, you know, that and the time off of work, you know, that that's an expense but I I made the investment and that's why it where I'm at right now.
Right. That is such great advice. The thing is is that you're absolutely right that you need to have a vision of what you want so that you can start putting actionable steps towards it. But what I really think that you are inspiring people and I think your story is so important to be out there is that so many people don't let themselves have that vision. They don't let themselves have that dream. I hear this all the time. I was just having this conversation with a family friend over the weekend who was saying that she listens to the podcast and was saying but it's too late for me to quit and start over. And I was saying like no, it's not. And you know, it's [no] And that's what I think is the problem is even the gym, you know, even the losing the weight, you know, so many things like we tell ourselves that we can't do like it would be have been so easy for you to say, you know, you've been on this medication for 30 years and that you are have been overweight for however long that you were overweight. And we take that on as an identity. And like that's it, this is who we are. It's fixed, whereas it's not and it can always change. And it's just up to you to like say I'm gonna go against what everybody else thinks. I mean, when you say, you know, people are rolling their eyes. A lot of people just don't have that, I don't know the confidence to stand up to that. And so they stay in the box that they've kind of put themselves in and they think like this is it. And I think that what is super inspiring and I really do hope that it reaches people far and wide to say that like I know how cliche it sounds to say it's never too late, but it is never too late. Like you have time so why not make it something you want?
I mean, I absolutely love that. And so what is next for you? I mean, what is that vision? Is it to work in a kitchen? Is it to have your own kitchen? I know you're, tell us a little bit about the bus that you have and what you do with that but and also what you kind of hope will come in the next, I don't know, five years.
Okay. Well, let me say that when I decided to accept the job in Oklahoma City, I thought I would do it for a year. I kind of gave myself a window that I'm gonna hit it really hard for five years until I'm 70 and then regroup and see where I wanna go from that point. And I'd like to take this advantage of this time to have as many different experiences as possible. So my thought I'd spend a year in Oklahoma City and then look for another kitchen. I really would like to spend a year or two in Montreal at uh working at Joe Beef restaurant. But anyway, my experience at Nonesuch and my experience living uh the past two months in Oklahoma City has been so strong that, you know, now I'm saying well, I think we're gonna be here at least two years and then we'll see. But anyway, in answer to your original question, I want to continue to work in restaurant kitchens, whether I stay where I'm at or whether I move on. I don't want to ever run my own business again, I don't want to have the uh financial responsibilities. I don't wanna have uh personnel management issues anymore. I've done that already. I've done that for 40 years and uh that's not what gave me energy and fulfillment. With the bus, I'm wanting to do uh independent pop-up events on a small scale. I I feel like I can handle 6 to 12 guests and I'd like to take the kind of food that I'm doing at Nonesuch and translate it to eclectic environment of a a school bus. And one of the things with Nonesuch restaurant being a tasting menu and an open kitchen that whenever feasible, the um chef preparing the dish brings it to the diners and talks about the dish. And so there's a lot of relationship building going on. And especially, shortly after I started the Bon Appetit thing uh happened. I just got a tremendous amount of exposure. And I have people coming into the restaurant that are saying to the front of house, you know, we wanna meet Peter. So, you know, I've kind of become, you know, this this gray-haired or white-haired novelty [celebrity.] Yeah and I know this restaurant, I have to tell you, uh works on a uh ticketing system. Um you uh go online and uh reserve your seat, pay for it at, you know, the point of booking it. And they'll open up reservations like two months at a time. And they sell out really fast. Nonesuch is probably booked now, you know, through August or September. And there's more people that wanna eat here than we can accommodate. So I'd like to take advantage of, you know, on the days that I'm not working and restaurant uh reaching out to uh some of the existing clientele and uh getting to do my own thing.
Oh, that's wonderful, I love that. And I'm sure people would be clearly like people are coming for you. And that would be such a wonderful way of having more and a more intimate experience with your cooking and maybe getting to meet you. I think that sounds like a great idea. And so Peter, like I guess to wrap up, what advice would you have? I know you just gave some really great advice about having vision, but for somebody that is stuck and is, you know, where you were maybe 20 years ago, where you're like in the middle of your career as a dentist, and you know that you're having those resentful feelings, you don't love it, but you don't know what else to do. Is there anything that any like parting wisdom that you'd wanna give someone that feels like there's more to life? They wanna do something else, but they don't know what.
I would say when one reaches the point that you're getting tired of listening to yourself whine and complain, you know, take a good hard look in the mirror and say yeah, either just accept it and shut up or put a plan together and be practical about it. And I I had to be practical and get my kids through college. I don't know that I would've done this if my wife hadn't passed away, [mm-hmm] because my responsibilities would've been ongoing. She had developed some chronic conditions that, you know, would require more than a a line cook salary to, you know, help take care. Anyway, when you reach a point where you're, you start getting tired of listening to yourself complain, then put put the vision together and be patient and uh figure out the steps you have to follow to get where you wanna go to.
I love that! This has been so wonderful. I you really are such an inspiration. And I think that you are really gonna help so many people that have kind of thrown in the towel and think like this is it. And I just love your story so much. So thank you so much for taking the time to come on the show and share with us. Is there a way that people, if they wanna get in contact with you or reach out, where's the best place that they can maybe follow your journey or to contact you?
Well, there's two ways. First of all, my email address is D-O-C-G-L-A-T-Z@gmail.com DocGlatz. And second of all, I have a website uh for my bus and that's where I post uh recipes and videos and uh articles that I've written. And that's BerthaBus.com B-E-R-T-H-A-B-U-S.com.
Wonderful. I will link to both of those in the show notes in case people can't write it down. Thank you so much for joining me, Peter. I really appreciate it.
It's been a pleasure and a delight talking to you.
You guys, how inspiring is Peter? I loved his story and here are my three takeaways. Number one, it's never too late to start over. I know I say this in our intro and Peter is the best example of this. If you're creating reasons that you can't do something you want, then understand that you're just creating an excuse because there is no reason that you can't go after your dreams.
Two, as Peter says, when you get tired of your own complaining, either accept it or change it. We tend not to realize how much agency we have. You are in control of your own life and your own happiness and your own destiny. So if you want something different, start doing something about it.
And three, create a vision and then start taking action. You can't really know where you're going until you know what you want. So sit down, take the time, figure out what you truly wanna do and then start figuring out the steps you need to take to get there. I hope you guys like this episode as much as I did and I will see you next week.
Thank you so much for listening. I can't tell you how much it means to me. If you liked the podcast, please rate and review us on iTunes. It'll help other people find the show. If you wanna connect or reach out, follow along on Instagram and Facebook at LessonsFromAQuitter and on Twitter at QuitterPodcast. I would love to hear from you guys and I'll see you on the next episode.