Eric Adams, Entrepreneur and Business Owner
Welcome to Baker College’s Spotlight feature, a series of brief interviews with notable BC students, faculty and alumni who are making news and reaching new heights in their educational and professional pursuits.
This edition of Spotlight features Eric Adams, a 2005 graduate of Baker College’s Culinary Institute of Michigan, and current founder/owner of two Las Vegas-based businesses, Dog & Whistle and Le Pup Café. Here we learn more about Eric and his professional path and passions.
Baker College (BC): Eric, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with our readers. First, tell us a little bit about your time at/degree from the Culinary Institute of Michigan (CIM).
Eric Adams (EA): I developed a love for Baker College when our Gary Area Career Center class took a campus visit to Baker College of Muskegon. When I had the opportunity to join the Culinary Arts program, it was an eye-opening experience, as I was able to learn from so many talented instructors and meet a lot of individuals who shared the same passions as me. I attended CIM Muskegon from 2002 to 2005, and graduated with an associate degree.
BC: We’re thrilled to learn that you connected with Baker College so early on. Why did you ultimately choose Baker College/CIM for your educational pursuits?
EA: I honestly didn’t have a lot of opportunities open to me during my senior year of High School. It was a push from my father to pursue my dreams and follow my passion within Culinary Arts. Another person that really encouraged not only me, but a group of kids from Gary, Ind., was Ms. Lee. She was rooting so many of us on, and we wanted to make her proud!
BC: We expect that Ms. Lee and your father are both very proud of your accomplishments, including your entrepreneurial ventures. What can you tell us about your current job title/professional role, and some of your day-to-day responsibilities?
EA: I’m actually in the pet food industry! I decided to take all of the information that I learned from my culinary studies, as well as my job experiences, to transition into an opportunity that addresses two areas of need…the inconsistent regulations in the pet food industry, and eradicating human food waste. My current position is Founder/CEO of Dog & Whistle. Dog & Whistle makes quality food accessible to dog lovers in the community, by helping food industry businesses redistribute high-quality excess food and convert it into human-grade dog food.
BC: What a fascinating use of a culinary arts education! What (or who) first inspired you to consider a culinary career?
EA: My grandmother, Annie Golden, was an amazing cook. This was a woman who was able to bring families together with the power of food, and it was amazing to see! So many people of importance within the city of Gary, Ind. would randomly stop by to grab a plate. Of note is that she didn’t have any formal culinary training…she was taught how to cook by her mother as a young woman growing up in Cleveland, Miss.
BC: And now, thanks to you, think about all of the many more people and pets that have been positively impacted by your grandmother’s inspiration! What would you say you like best about the culinary industry? What do you find most challenging?
EA: When I first got into food and beverage management, it was an amazing experience meeting so many different personalities, connecting with guests and working with so many talented chefs. When I moved to Las Vegas, I found that I was able to accelerate my career more quickly and learn so much more! The most challenging point, though, also was also moving to Las Vegas in the beginning of my career. I moved in 2008 during the recession, and I was unable to find a career opportunity for a few months. However, I am grateful I was eventually given an opportunity in the casino world by two amazing gentlemen, Brian Lambert and Mathew Mascali.
BC: We are grateful they gave you that opportunity as well! Thinking back, what were your career goals when you first enrolled at CIM? How do they compare to where you are today?
EA: In the beginning, my main goal was to open up my own restaurant. I will say that I am somewhat successful to that end, as I have opened Le Pup Café, which is a one-of-a-kind experience where dog-owners can come in and get fresh meals made to order for their pooch. So, in a roundabout way, I would say the plan worked out!
BC: We’d agree! We also understand you are currently working to develop a scholarship program for CIM students. What can you tell us about that?
EA: During my time at CIM, I was a recipient of the Warren Husid Scholarship, named for an amazing chef that unfortunately passed away before I attended Baker College. As my company continues to scale, I would like to pay it forward to an individual in the culinary arts program who may be in need of the extra funds to support their education. I am looking to hopefully roll-out the scholarship opportunity in 2022.
BC: We applaud your generosity and look forward to hearing more about your scholarship in the future. Looking back again to the past, how do you feel your time at/degree from Baker College/CIM has contributed to your professional successes?
EA: I had the pleasure of having so many impactful relationships with teachers, chefs and friends that have left a lasting impression on me. Through meaningful conversations, I have had the ability to learn, grow and continue to progress as a professional throughout my life.
BC: And now that you are a professional with some years of experience under your belt, what best piece of advice would you share with current college students?
EA: We all have a purpose in life to do something amazing. Take what you are learning and make this world a better place! Oh, and don’t be afraid of work study (LOL!).
BC: Thank you again, Eric, for this inspiring conversation. Anything else you’d like to add?
EA: This is not only my story, but also the story of my fellow classmates that attended the culinary program with me at the Gary Area Career Center. Myself, LaTroy Gordan, Jeremy Woods, Jack London, Alena Magee and Roy Dixon were a group of kids from Gary, Ind. who were determined to go to college, obtain our degrees, become successful in our careers and eventually even become business owners. This is our collective story, and I want to make sure people know that we were destined to do great things!