Mike Shadwick found the courage to follow his food dreams with Honey Bee's Biscuits + Good Eats.
Mike Shadwick never thought he could make a career out of the food business, so he never tried. Though cooking was his passion, he instead pursued a career in sales, where he worked for ten-plus years before leaving his job to explore computer science. Unemployed for about a year and a half, he was considering his next move when a conversation with his wife would change his course.
"My wife and I were just talking one day when she told me, 'Why don't you just take the next job you are offered in food?'" Shadwick says. "We knew people in restaurants, so she told me I should just hit them up and work in the kitchen. She told me it didn't matter wherever that was — that I should just start somewhere. The next day, my sister, who worked at Imo's in the Central West End, told me they were hiring delivery drivers. Here I was, going from executive to an Imo's driver, but I figured, why not?"
Looking back at his road to Honey Bee's Biscuits + Good Eats (www.honeybeesbg.com)
, the food truck he owns with his wife, Meredith, Shadwick realizes it was only a matter of time before he landed in the food business. For as long as he can remember, cooking has been a part of his life, dating back to one of his earliest memories of making breakfast for his mom. Of course, as a three-year-old, what he considered breakfast wasn't exactly edible.
"I snuck down to the kitchen one morning, cracked eggs into a bowl and scraped a spoonful of margarine into it and thought I had made her eggs," Shadwick laughs. "For me, it's always been about breakfast food."
Even though he always dreamed of what it would be like to cook professionally, he didn't think he could make it in the business. It wasn't until that first shift at Imo's that he saw he could actually thrive in the industry. There, he hustled and earned a reputation as a valuable employee, and he moved up the ranks, gaining the respect of Nick Imo, who worked alongside him in the restaurant.
Early last year, a friend who was a server at Winslow's Table passed on his information to owners Michael and Tara Gallina, who were looking for kitchen help. Though he'd never cooked on a line, Shadwick went into the interview with a good attitude and a willingness to learn. Impressed, the Gallinas brought him on for his first shift on February 27, 2020. In less than a month, the restaurant was closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Though Shadwick's experience with Winslow's Table was brief, it was formative and gave him the confidence to see himself as a restaurant professional. He went back to Imo's with the intention of getting into management, but he still couldn't shake the feeling that he wanted to do something else. In talking to his wife, it became clear that he was meant to do breakfast food, especially biscuits, and that it was time for him to finally follow his dreams.
Together, the Shadwicks launched Honey Bee's at the Kirkwood Farmers' Market last June, not knowing what to expect. After selling about 200 biscuits in their first outing, they realized they were onto something and quickly started thinking through how they could expand their idea beyond the market stall. Within three weeks of their inaugural outing, they had purchased a food truck and got to work expanding their vision.
The Honey Bee's truck launched this February, and Shadwick continues to be thrilled with the response. The brand continues to have a loyal following at the Kirkwood Farmers' Market, where it parks on Saturdays and Sundays, and has also started doing private and corporate events. All the while, Shadwick continues to push himself, spending all of his free time researching new techniques and recipes and developing his skills — and though he's as busy as he ever was, he wouldn't have it any other way.
"I feel like I landed where I was meant to be," Shadwick says. "We had this crazy catering gig a few weeks ago where we did food for three separate shifts of employees at this business and logged 24 hours in two days. Even the next day, I was able to wake right up and hop into the kitchen, ready to go. It's just so much fun, and this has been incredibly rewarding. We're fortunate."
Shadwick took a moment away from the biscuits to share his thoughts on the St. Louis food and beverage community, the joys of waking up early and another special project he and his wife have cooking at the Kirkwood Farmers' Market.
What is one thing not many people know about you?
I’m really creative and come up with many of our rhymes and names for our various menu items. I always enjoyed going places that had different themed specials and fun names and had more of a creative approach to their menu. I try to make our food more fun by using my creativity to give customers that same experience.
What daily ritual is non-negotiable for you?
Waking up early. I love to wake up before the sun rises because I feel like I have privacy to focus on individual tasks that require more depth of concentration. I'm usually awake by 3:30 or 4 a.m.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
To be able to control time.
What is the most positive thing in food, wine or cocktails that you’ve noticed in St. Louis over the past year?
The St. Louis food community has been really welcoming and supportive. St. Louis has a very competitive food scene, and it’s an honor to see our customers and supporters continue to show up for us.
Who is your St. Louis food crush?
There are so many, but a few of my favorites are Mac’s Local Eats, Balkan Treat Box, Sando Shack, Beffa’s and Imo’s.
Who’s the one person to watch right now in the St. Louis dining scene?
Tropical Moose Shaved Ice. My wife and I just bought this awesome Kirkwood staple, and we’re going to make some fun additions to their current menu.
Which ingredient is most representative of your personality?
Thyme is my favorite herb and flavor. It represents my personality well because it works well with so many different dishes and flavor profiles.
If you weren’t working in the restaurant business, what would you be doing?
I found the restaurant industry doing what I love to do, which is cooking. So if this doesn’t work out, maybe I would make a job out of something else I love to do like video games or playing with my dog. If i hadn’t found this industry, I’d probably still be in sales.
Name an ingredient never allowed in your restaurant.
What is your after work hangout?
Home with our dogs. And if I’m not cooking food, I’m eating it. We love to check out new local spots.
What’s your food or beverage guilty pleasure?
Definitely s’mores, or Oreos with peanut butter.
What would be your last meal on earth?
Pizza from Imo's (chicken, bacon, jalapeno, extra cheese, light sauce, sweet and tangy as the sauce, well done), a Mac’s cheeseburger and French fries, and a s’more for dessert.
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