Pamela Salzman was just 7 years old when she bought her first cookbook. Little did she know that the fire she felt inside her about cooking would later reignite…and turn into a flourishing career in the food industry. When I asked Pamela how she created this cooking empire, she laughed and replied that like many entrepreneurs, she left her successful corporate career to pursue her passion—food and cooking.
Pamela’s passion for cooking was reignited after having children. She joined a cooking group with her friends, where once a month she learned how to cook interesting recipes. Along with her girlfriends, they’d enjoy the fruits of their labor together. She was surprised at how much she enjoyed cooking and this intimate time in the kitchen.
Soon she got interested in nutrition and volunteered at a nonprofit that taught kids all about the essentials of gardening and healthy eating. She eventually led the class, realizing that the other moms were overwhelmed by all the choices at the grocery store and farmer’s market. Pamela discovered that they needed help cooking not only healthy recipes for their families but meals that were also time-efficient.
Her hobby eventually turned into a real passion for business, and Pamela knew this was what she was meant to do—work with food and cook healthy meals—but on a much larger scale. More importantly, she wanted to empower other women to learn the same skills so they could cook healthy meals for their families too.
Twelve years later and Pamela has a thriving career. Gone is the guilt that plagued her about not taking a traditional, linear approach to her career. Connecting with women like Pamela affirms my belief that you can make a difference…and make a living doing what you love. I truly believe this because I get to live my passion every day thanks, in large part, to YOU!
Listen to the entire interview and learn more about Pamela’s journey and how she went from small cooking classes to national exposure.
2:40 – We live in a time where we constantly experience “decision overload.” More distractions and more overwhelm flood us when trying to plan and cook healthy meals for our families.
9:58 – Listen to Pamela talk about her false guilt about not using her education in a traditional way to create a career path for herself.
15:00 – How to move out of your comfort zone: pursue your true passion to earn six-figures and beyond doing what you love.
19:48 – Learn how bloggers generate income and the different ways you can grow your business online too.
25:40 – Imposter syndrome is real! Learn how to move past it as Pamela did while scaling her business during a global pandemic.
Like many women and entrepreneurs, Pamela faced imposter syndrome. Who was she to broadcast her cooking classes to the public? These common questions all came up for Pamela:
- What if I’m not successful?
- What if people don’t show up?
- What if they don’t like me?
But you see, with Pamela, as it is with many womenpreneurs, we don’t experience personal growth and success unless we step outside our comfort zones. Pamela says, “If it’s not scary, you’re not growing.” She pushed past her fears and did it anyway. And I know you can too!
Now Pamela teaches classes live online and through social media, has written two incredible cookbooks, and has created products and passive income streams even during a global pandemic. Her career has blossomed, and her business has grown and scaled because she let go of her fears and pursued her passion without restraint or regrets. What’s holding you back from living your dreams?
- Quicker Than Quick: 140 Crave-Worthy Recipes for Healthy Comfort Foods in 30 Minutes or Less
- Barnes & Noble – Quicker Than Quick: 140 Crave-Worthy Recipes for Healthy Comfort Foods in 30 Minutes or Less
- Pages: A Bookstore – Quicker Than Quick: 140 Crave-Worthy Recipes for Healthy Comfort Foods in 30 Minutes or Less
About Pamela Salzman
Pamela Salzman is a cooking instructor, holistic health counselor, food blogger and cookbook author. Pamela’s first cookbook, “Kitchen Matters,” was published in June 2017 and her second book, “Quicker than Quick,” was just released in April 2020.
She is the Culinary Nutritionist for “Clean Eating Magazine” and a regular contributor to the Food Network Kitchen app. Pamela has appeared on numerous media outlets including The Today Show, The Rachael Ray Show, Hallmark’s Home and Family, dozens of local TV shows, GOOP, MindBodyGreen, ELLE magazine, Allure, and many others.
She shares her family-friendly recipes and nutrition tips on her website www.pamelasalzman.com and social media channels. Pamela lives in Manhattan Beach, California, with her husband and three children.
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Read the podcast transcript below
Pamela, it is wonderful to have you on the show after meeting you at a local event.
It’s good to see you again even it’s virtual.
I remember meeting you and I loved your story. I love that you make a living, teaching people how to cook. Can you give us a little bit of the background? I know like me, you grew up with an Italian-American family, lots of food and people around, but did you always love cooking?
I did. I didn’t intend to make a career of it. That didn’t even occur to me, but I did always love to cook. It wasn’t because my mother and my father loved to cook. We didn’t have the resources that we all have now in terms of magazines, the web, etc. It came from the fact that I liked to eat. My mom worked full time and it’s not like we had a chef in the house or something. It stemmed from, “I like to eat good food.” My mom made the same thing all the time. She made a lot of Italian food four times a week. There wasn’t a lot of diversity in what we ate. It was always fresh and homemade, and there was nothing wrong with it. From that Gourmet Magazine that showed up every month, I knew that there was something else. At seven years old, I bought my first cookbook and I would ask my mom, “Can I make this?” She’s like, “Go right ahead, honey.” That’s how it was in me.
Often, we talk about whatever you love as a little girl, it’s that thing that as an adult, we look back and we either want to reignite or find that it never goes away. Here you’ve built a beautiful career, teaching cooking classes and doing these cookbooks. I love watching your videos. As someone who doesn’t love to cook, which is funny because I do come from an Italian family and everyone in my family is a great cook. Growing up, I was always busy doing many other things and to me, the kitchen seemed like work, but my fiancé is an incredible cook. Thank the Lord, we talk about it often. I do find that when I do cook, I enjoyed the process and end result. Do you work with a lot of women like me, maybe who feel like, “There’s not enough time in the day to plan a meal and figure out how to make it healthy and build a career as well?”
That’s everybody that I deal with. Things have changed. A lot more women are working. Life is busier than it used to be. We have a lot more distractions and things pulling us in different directions. I also speak in my classes and in my cooking bootcamps about what I call decision overload. It’s not even people who don’t know how to cook but there’s information and there are many choices that are exhausting and it shuts you down. Whether it’s going to the supermarket and trying to pick the right almonds, milk, vegetable, or trying to figure out what you’re going to make for the week, and going online, which I don’t recommend doing. We have way too many choices and it’s overwhelming for people. I can see why people don’t cook.
We can talk about that forever because that parlays into many different avenues like the video that we’re going to talk about. It’s a decision overload. There’s too much content out there for us to try to sift and decipher through. As busy moms, we want to make good healthy choices for our kids, but we also need it to be easy. We’re going to talk about your cookbook, which I’m super excited about. Let’s go back to that little Pamela, who loved to cook at seven and how did you make a career out of that now?
It was completely unintentional. I had a different path. My father, as an immigrant, it was like, “You’re going to be a doctor, a lawyer, or into business,” those are your options. I was an Economics major and then I got my MBA. I was on a more corporate path but my heart wasn’t there. It was a difficult thing for me to step back and acknowledge that because I had all this education. I didn’t want to go back to this corporate world, which I was groomed to do, make the money, have the promotions, the success and all that. I had my children, and then I said to my husband, “I do need to go back to work.” That is part of my DNA. It is to work, be productive, contribute to our family, and have that stimulation.
I don’t judge people that don’t want to go back to work, but it was something that would be meaningful to me. He said, “Great, go back to work.” I’m like, “What am I going to do? I don’t want to do what I was doing.” He’s like, “Think about it.” I hate to sound all hocus-pocus, but I sat down and put it out there to the universe like, “I’m ready. Show me what that path looks like for me that is going to be meaningful.” I thought what was going to come back to me was some company would offer me something that I would be excited about. That didn’t happen. Instead, I was in this cooking group with a bunch of friends that we’ve met once a month at somebody’s house. The chef would come in. She would teach us some recipes and we would have lunch together. It was fun.
I wasn’t learning a ton because I already knew how to cook, but it was something that was a little side thing that I enjoy doing. Long story short, I was getting much more interested in nutrition. I was volunteering for a nonprofit at the time, teaching children in public schools about nutrition, and gardening things that I grew up doing. I started to see this disconnect between what kids and the parents thought they were eating. The fact that a lot of moms didn’t know how to cook. A lot of my friends at the time were asking me to show them how to cook, show me your recipe, bring me to the farmer’s market, and can you help me with my pantry. All of this was converging at one time.
A couple of gals in the group said to me, “You should be taking over this class because you know so much about healthy food. Every time we go to your house, you make it look easy, you’re having fun when you’re entertaining, you cook for your family every night, and you don’t stress about it. Show us how you do that?” I’m like, “That’s funny. I’m not a teacher.” It’s funny because my parents are both professors and there’s a lot of education in my family. After they asked me a few more times, I said, “I’ll do it,” until I figure out what I want to do with my life. After I taught that first class, which I thought was going to be a once a month hobby.
I’m getting choked up, even talking about it because it was such a profound moment for me that I knew this is what I meant to do. Not only did I enjoy it, I was very nervous, but I felt there was meaning in it. I felt like I was empowering. It was mostly women throughout the years. Empowering these women to have the skills, feed their families, feel good about it, and also to let them know, “It’s okay to do your best.” There was so much that I felt like I was giving people and I felt good about that. That’s how it all started over many years ago.
It was divine timing, you get those little taps like, “Teach me.” Like, “No. That’s not me,” and then finally when you embrace it, it’s amazing what shows up. I want to go back in your story because I know that someone needs to know this because you had this great education and corporate career, and yet you were unfulfilled. I believe in my heart of hearts that we can do something meaningful and make money. We have to figure out what that is and ask the universe, get quiet. Did you have a hard time though? Did you feel any guilt around abandoning that and how did you deal with that? I know that there are many women and maybe men out there who may be through this pandemic have either lost a job or they had found themselves unhappy and are scared to make that shift in their life
There was guilt around not using my education, which was false thinking. Not a way that’s more traditional and linear, but I am using it. I did the first early years, go back and forth a lot with myself like, “Is this a real job? Is this not a real job?” I’ve also come to realize that now is different from when I was growing up. There are many more non-traditional paths that people take in every industry, even if you look at something like television. People are making huge careers names for themselves, money if that’s important to you, not on network TV, not on traditional channels like the food network or whatever. There’s this whole world of ways to make a living if you want to put it that way in non-traditional ways, and it’s all good.
We got to find the one where our audience is at and you’ve built an incredible audience. You have all these different recipes and things that you do. I love watching them online. Let’s talk about that because you show up powerfully. You use video quite a bit. Was that hard for you? Tell me about that segue, was it, “I know I need to be on camera. I need to be using video.” Tell me about that transition because you were teaching classes.
First of all, being in front of people live as a teacher, that was the hard part of getting yourself out there. It took me a minute to get the courage to do that. Anytime you do something new and you put yourself out there in a public way where you’re announcing like, “I’m going to do these cooking classes now.” After that first group class where it was like a gimmie they invited me to do it. I was still nervous that first time but then once I’m like, “I want to do this on a bigger scale,” and then you put it out there, that was scary for me. All the what-ifs, “What if I’m not successful? What if nobody shows up? What if they don’t like me?” On the other hand, if you never do it, then you don’t have the success and you’ll never know. In the video part, I’m like an old lady in this whole sphere. I have this joke that everybody is 27. Anytime I’m talking to an editor, a producer, or an agent, I’m going to be on a show, they’re all 27. I see people on Instagram, these girls are all 27. I’m like the grandma of the group.
A lot of these things have it and in terms of social media and video, they haven’t come naturally to me, I have to think about it. I have to observe what is going on and what the community norms. I’m not trying to say that I can’t be original but I have been more reactive to what I’m seeing and that’s okay too. I learned in business school, benchmarking is a thing. You can see what other people are doing and then fit it to what you can do. The video and going on TV were not hard for me because I’ve built this business on teaching people live and answering questions while I’m cooking. I have this theory that the path you’re on is the path you’re supposed to be on, which is that all those years of meal planning, entertaining, making my list prepping ahead, and like all of that taught me what I needed to teach other people.
The same goes for how it transitioned into the TV, the video, the lives, and all of that. I felt like I was already doing it. That’s not to say that the first time I was on TV wasn’t scary, but I am also trying to set an example for my kids and my family, which is if it’s not scary, then you’re not going to grow. If you stay in your comfort zone your whole life, you will not move out of it. I had to own that. That voice is in my head too, where I try and pump myself up. When I do something that is a little scary and intimidating, I’m like, “This is going to push me. This is going to make me grow.” I also try and visualize the end result, having a successful segment or a successful bootcamp class. I get excited about it, instead of being scared.
It’s important that we need to remember that we are role models for our children. When we stay comfortable, what we want won’t show up for us because it’s all outside of that as cliché as it sounds, but we got to be able to get past that fear. Most of our clients that come into our show are women, very similar to where you started maybe leaving corporate or they’re trying to do something meaningful in their life and they want to build a business. They’re over 40, social, and being on camera is new to them. All those what-ifs that you said, every single person goes through that. It’s important that we normalize that’s just being human. We need to remember what the end result, who we’re impacting, and how we’re showing up. I love that. Thank you for sharing that.
I did have a girlfriend who encouraged me. I think back to that I was sitting in her living room and I was saying, “Should I do this? Do I know enough?” She goes, “Why not?” Another piece of advice that somebody gave me in terms of like, “Do I know enough to do this,” she’s like, “Nobody knows everything, so teach what you know.”
That’s great advice. I love that because many people think, “Do I know enough?” That imposter syndrome is real. It’s real. You started out teaching classes and you’ve built an incredible business since then. Can you give us maybe a couple of the things that you did or that you learned along the way that you feel has been a catalyst for where you are now?
One of the problems, when I started the business, was that I didn’t intend to start the business. I didn’t have a business plan, a five-year plan, and I didn’t see that could be from that. I wasn’t working towards a goal, which part of that is can be good because if I had seen what I have now, I may not have started. I may have been too intimidated to be like, “I can’t do that.” On the other hand, it can help with where you’re going to focus your energy because in this space that I’m in, you could go in a lot of different directions. There was a time during these past many years where I was trying to go in too many different directions and I wasn’t going forward enough. If somebody is looking for advice, you do need to have some focus, know your strengths, analyze your business, and see where you can scale.
In the beginning, the business was growing to the point that it could grow. I started off with one class a month, and then I grew quickly to four classes a week. That’s a short amount of time, but at one point, it became not scalable anymore. There’s only so much a Pamela. I tried teaching for five days a week. There is no cooking teacher that teaches five days a week. It’s impossible. I was starting to get burnt out. I was starting to realize that something needed to shift and it took me a while to figure out. I needed to have multiple sources of income, number one. Number two, I need to figure out like, “How was I going to do that?” That’s the point where I was going in too many directions.
What did you decide to do?
I was looking at income streams, “How do bloggers make money?” I had my cooking class business, and then I was thinking, “You can do these traditional ways,” which is through growing your Instagram, you can attract brands, and then you could have sponsors. You can have an ad revenue stream on your website, which is generated directly through the traffic that you get. You could do a YouTube channel. You could generate ad revenue from that and then you could sell things. I was trying to do a lot of these things. One of my first products was to do an online cooking class. I would get subscribers and I would film the class that I was teaching that month. I had people who geographically couldn’t attend my classes in-person. That was my first product. It was this subscription-based online cooking.
Did that work for you?
It was working, but it wasn’t the huge moneymaker that I wanted it to.
People think if I launch a membership site, bada bing bada boom, multiple sites start coming in.
It takes time. I had that and then I started doing some eBooks. I did one for the holidays and that was successful. I got turned on to this business online class, which taught people how to create income from online products. I wanted to start figuring out how to expand that monthly business further and how to also create other online products. This is why it took me a while because I had to stop teaching to be able to devote more time. I could not find the time.
Was that scary for you to let go of something?
It took me too long because I was afraid, I had to give up income and thinking I can have a lag in income because I needed to be able to devote more time to trying to figure out this other product.
I have this conversation with many of my clients. “You have to let go of something and do the other.”
If I could do it all over again, I would have done it a couple of years ago. January 2020, I reduced my class load from 4 to 1 a week. I had customers that were like, “We don’t want to go down to one every other month. We want to still see you every month.” I couldn’t accommodate them. That was tough for me like, “Who am I going to say no to?” I have to be true to me too. I have to have growth for me. I was putting myself on the side because I felt bad for other people. That’s not fair to me. When I did that, the goal was to launch these bootcamps, four-week online classes in September 2020 because I felt like that seemed a perfect time. The pandemic hit in March 2020 and one of the gals that were helping and coach me, she’s like, “You have to launch your products now.” I’m like, “I can’t. That’s not fair to take people’s money during a pandemic.” She’s like, “You’re offering a service.” There are some people that maybe can’t afford it or whatever, but that’s not your person.
She’s like, “Hurry it up, get your product rolling, launch it, and get cracking.” I worked seven days a week all day and all night for a couple of weeks, putting my product together. I was finally like, “I’m not sure if it’s ready, but if it’s ready, and I probably took too long to put it out there.” I did a free webinar, I launched my first bootcamp, and it blew up. I could not believe it. I since then have launched several other boot camps, which weren’t even in my head, but people that are your customers will then become your repeat customers. If you believe in what you can offer and in your product, you will have success. I was not expecting the success that I had, but I’m proud of what I put out there. I don’t have any regrets about doing what I’ve done. I’ve brought a lot of meaning, joy, and education to a lot of people. This is my new business and it works out.
This is such a great testament to putting out there what people need. I love what you said, “It’s not fair to charge people.” It’s a pandemic but people are spending money. There are more people spending money now.
When I put this out to my coach like, “Is it fair to take people’s money?” That’s not me wondering if it’s fair to take people’s money. That’s me finding an excuse like, “I don’t know if I’m ready to put this out there.” You’re putting yourself out there. It’s scary. It’s a new product. That is something that is natural for people to do and it’s natural for me to do. It’s not the right time, I’m not ready, and it’s not perfect enough. Don’t do it. Do not wait. You cannot wait.
The time’s not right. You have to say goodbye or let go of something. You may disappoint a person or two, but in order for you to scale and grow, it needs your attention over here. You launched before you felt you were ready and yet everyone else was ready for it.
Something interesting happened in January I have a couple of weird physical aches and pains that I was seeing a doctor about. He’s like, “I don’t know what this is.” The muscle ticks, twitches, and all these things. When I stopped teaching four days a week, all of those twitches went away.
That’s a lot of work and a lot of stress on your body to do. You’re inspiring. I love your story. There are divine nuggets in here that someone needs to know. It’s to let go of that thing that is sucking the energy out of you, define that meaningful work, and to look at how you can scale and replicate what you do. At the end of the day, there’s only so much time and there’s only you. You know anything and never know everything so teach what you know. Let’s talk about Quicker than Quick. Carrie Murphy is happy about this book because it is 140 Crave-Worthy Recipes for Healthy Comfort Foods in 30 Minutes or Less. When did you have the time to put this book together since you were launching your bootcamp? For someone who is not that excited about cooking, you got me excited going through the recipes and looking at the pictures, I want to try some of these. Tell us about it.
My first book and this book both came out of teaching my classes. It’s such a gift to be able to interact with people in real-time and face-to-face. When you’re online, you don’t have that same connection and you don’t get what people need. This is what people needed. It was loud and clear. They’re like, “We like cooking, you’ve made us like cooking, we like cooking healthy, but we don’t have as much time.” I’m like, “I don’t either. I can’t cook.” Elaborate things. I don’t want to, I don’t need to anymore, I don’t have to prove anything, and I don’t have as much time. I can find ways to make healthy food tastes good in a short amount of time. That’s about the book. My literary agent, she’s like, “Time to write your next book. Give me your idea.” I gave her ten ideas. She’s like, “I hate all of them except the 30 minute or less one because that’s what I want.” I’m like, “I get it.”
I love that you focus on healthy cooking. Here in Southern California, it’s a fit society and community. It’s important, especially with what’s happening in the world that we take notice of what we’re putting in our bodies and what we’re putting in our kids’ bodies. I love that you have these simple recipes, but they’re also healthy recipes.
We can also define healthy. Some people might not find it healthy enough or what does that even mean? It’s healthy-ish. One of the things that I am focused on, whether it’s in my classes, recipes, or book is also providing those adaptations for people. Every recipe can be made gluten-free, dairy-free, and every recipe can be made plant-based if that’s your thing. I’m not one to say how you or the next person should eat. It’s always evolving. It’s an individual decision. I’m always readjusting my diet and I do eat almost everything. I don’t believe in restricting, food shaming, or anything like that. It’s something that can appeal to everybody.
I enjoy thinking of that because we put ourselves in the shame box if we don’t eat perfectly. Is it 90/10 rule?
80/20, eat what you enjoy, eat clean, and eat whole foods. If it’s not fast food, you’re a step above. That’s a good start when you’re cooking.
Not everybody has the resources to even eat the way they want to eat. You do the best that you can and that it has to be good enough. Food can change the way you feel, think, and eat whether it’s short-term or long-term. You do have to respect that, too. Sure. I am a big proponent of making the connection between what you eat and how you feel and also observed that in your children. I don’t want to shame anybody. I don’t think there should be any mom guilt. We have to do the best that we can. If every time your kid eats dairy, they feel ill. Let’s connect the dots there.
Thank you for sending me this book. I’m excited to dive in. Everyone’s going to want to get their hands on it. The 30 Minutes or Less, they are beautiful and wonderful recipes in here. I can’t wait to get my hands on it. My fiancé will be happy.
I cooked from that book at hand. I do it myself especially during the last few months when we were burnt out of cooking. I have the kids here and we were making breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A whole lot of cooking and cleaning. I’ve been turning to the book a lot too.
How do people get their hands on this fabulous book?
Everywhere good books are sold. It’s on Barnes & Noble. If you have viewers and listeners in the South Bay, I love supporting local booksellers. Pages: A Bookstore in Manhattan Beach, I always have signed copies of my book.
It’s a great store. Shop local my friends. It is important.
A woman-owned it.
Pamela, thank you for sharing your story. I know you’ve inspired someone to go out there finally do that thing that they’ve been waiting to do and to let go of trying to please everyone. Now they can also find a healthy way to bring food into their family as well. I appreciate you and your time. I always end with, what does inspired living mean to you?
Inspired living to me means being able to live authentically, know who you are, be able to be true to yourself, and not compare yourself to others. Also, to live in a place of gratitude where you can appreciate all of the things that you have in your life. My mother is a positive person and I gleaned that from her. I feel like I can wake up every day and find something to inspire me to be a better person, to be able to share and receive love, and to feel gratitude for what I have.
We all need that, to continue to look around us, and it’s easy to focus on all the crazy out there.
Instead to focus on what’s not wrong, focus on what’s right.
I look forward to hopefully seeing you in person soon.
That would be great. Thanks for having me.