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Crystal De Luna Bogan

 “Crystal De Luna Bogan on Anxiety, Motherhood, and Grilled Cheese” Transcript

Amirah Kassem: Hi! I'm Amirah Kassem, and you're listening to Radio Cherry Bombe. You're the bombe!

Kerry Diamond: Hi, everyone. Welcome to Radio Cherry Bombe, the number one female focused food podcast in the universe. I'm your host, Kerry Diamond. For today's episode, I'm talking all things grilled cheese and motherhood. Cool combo, right? With Crystal De Luna-Bogan of The Grilled Cheeserie in Nashville. Crystal and her husband have opened three locations of the beloved eatery. It all started with a food truck. Our conversation is filled with wisdom about culinary school and cross country moves. There's even a little guest appearance by her baby, Nina. One thing is for sure, it's cheesy in all the right ways.

Kerry Diamond: Today's show is sponsored by Sugar Free 3, the new book by author Michele Promaulayko, the former editor in chief of Women's Health and Cosmopolitan Magazine. It's the perfect book for people like me, who have a wicked sweet tooth. I did just eat several chocolates and caramels that our travel editor, Nancy, brought back from Dublin. Thank you, Nancy. Obviously, there's sugar in those things, but it's shocking how much sugar is snuck into the foods you least expect it to be in, like yogurt, wheat bread, and salad dressing. Crush your cravings and supercharge your health with this simple three week plan. Sugar Free 3 by Michele Promaulayko is available at major booksellers nationwide.

Kerry Diamond: Before we get to today's episode, let's take care of some housekeeping. Tickets for our annual Jubilee conference in New York City are on sale right now. It's Jubilee NYC. The event is taking place on Sunday, April 5th in Brooklyn, and we would love for you to join us. Jubilee NYC is the largest gathering of women in food in the US. Don't miss out. Get your ticket today on Now, here's my conversation with Crystal Rose De Luna-Bogan.

Kerry Diamond: So, what brings you to New York?

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: The Le Cordon Bleu dinner that Cherry Bombe hosted was a big reason why we wanted to come here. We are in the process of growing our brand right now. We just opened our third grilled cheese shop in Nashville.

Kerry Diamond: Congratulations.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: So, thank you. Thank you. So, it's a big year for us. It's kind of time to stretch our arms a little bit outside of Nashville and reach out to this big city. This is where all the food influencer, amazing writers are and everything. So, we wanted to make sure we get our message and our brand across to everybody.

Kerry Diamond: You're here with your business and life partner.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: Yes, Joseph, and my other boss, Luna. My 11-month-old.

Kerry Diamond: Oh, Luna.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: Boss. She's saying hi.

Kerry Diamond: Do you want to come hold a microphone? Aw. She's 11-months-old?

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: 11-months-old, yeah.

Kerry Diamond: She is adorable.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: She is a little mini Joseph. She is a boss.

Kerry Diamond: How does she like New York?

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: She loves it. She loves people watching. So, this is the best place to people watch. She loves food. So, she just had pizza at Eataly. This child has had more of an adventurous life than I have this last year.

Kerry Diamond: At just 11 months, right?

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: We were in Tuscany in July and she went with me.

Kerry Diamond: That's exciting. Was that vacation, or work?

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: Her aunt's wedding. My sister's wedding. So, Luna has been to Italy. She's going to go to California. She's been to New York. I'm like, "What a glamorous lifestyle this baby has."

Kerry Diamond: Luna, you have a passport, already. I was 21 before I had a passport.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: She does! She has a passport with the stamp. I'm like, "Why do we have the same amount of stamps on our passport?"

Kerry Diamond: That's so funny. So, how are things in Nashville? You're in one of the hottest food cities on the planet right now.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: Yeah. I mean, it is busy. It is busy. We're all busy, which is so great. We have great tourism right now and a really loyal following from our customers. We've been open for nine years, starting our food truck in East Nashville. So, just a block away is our newest location in a food hall, which is, I think, kind of the future of what food trucks become when they kind of take the next step as a food hall. It's an easier transition than a standalone building. We have three restaurants, like I said before. We have a standalone, we have a food hall space, and we have another space that we kind of are nestled in between a couple other restaurants that are very good friends of ours.

Kerry Diamond: Who?

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: Biscuit Love and 'Za, we're right in the middle of. So, we call it Gluten Alley. Gluten Alley. We've got all the bread and cheese covered in that one building.

Kerry Diamond: Oh, that's funny. My ex ... not my Nashville ex, but my other ex ... had a funny name. He lives down next to a pizza place, a donut place, and a bagel place. He calls it Dough Row.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: Dough Row! Wait, that's a better name!

Kerry Diamond: You can steal that.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: Yeah, we're going to steal Dough Row, yeah. It's under one roof. So, we need to get some of that stuff in our bathroom. We share a bathroom, so that would be the perfect place to kind of market our gluten.

Kerry Diamond: That's Cherry Bombe's gift to you today. Dough Row.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: Yes, I know. I've got to write that down.

Kerry Diamond: So, how the heck did you get into the grilled cheese business?

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: So, interesting enough. I started in fine dining after I went to Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena, right out of high school. So, I just always wanted to be in the industry. I didn't know what that meant, but I just knew that I loved cooking and loved food. So, enrolled my junior year in high school. As soon as I graduated, I started culinary school a month after I graduated high school.

Kerry Diamond: You were determined.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: I just loved it. I just knew. It just felt so right. My parents were so supportive.

Kerry Diamond: What did you study at culinary school?

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: So, it was the basic program that Le Cordon Bleu offers, where you do your garde manger program. You do your pastry, baking. So, I learned everything.

Kerry Diamond: Was this world of French culinary familiar to you, or you were learning all new things?

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: I'm Mexican. I literally knew yellow cheese and white cheese and pinto beans. I grew up in a ...

Kerry Diamond: Are both your parents Mexican?

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: Yes, they are. So, I grew up cooking with my grandmother. So, we love food. I love feeding people. I didn't know. So, my mind was blown. I was hooked. I got to go to dinners. Our chefs always told us, our chef instructors always told us to eat out. Go and experience things. This is part of your learning.

Kerry Diamond: Education.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: Your education. I just loved ... I spent all of my money on eating, which is pretty much what a lot of us do anyway. It was in the name of education. I worked in fine dining right out of culinary school. So, I was working at a restaurant called Napa Rose which was a Wine Country cuisine restaurant in the Grand Californian Hotel in Disney. Working for a hotel is good for a younger cook to start off, because there's a lot of discipline. There's structure there. It was just an opportunity that I took. So, I was happy to be working there. I learned so much from everybody that worked there. I mean, just so much. How to act in a kitchen. They pretty much put me in my place right away. I thought I was a chef. You graduate culinary school, you think you're a chef. You're not. You're not a chef. That comes with time. They were like, "You're lucky that you're even touching food."

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: These people work years to get the position and work the stations they work. You can't just waltz in here because you ... So, I'm glad that I went through that because it humbled me. I had to put in the work. I was not naturally the fastest, but I was the first one there. I always was the last one to help clean. You have to put in the time. You have to volunteer to clean the walk-in. You have to volunteer to mop the floors, help wrap up somebody's station. It's literally ... That's how you kind of get in with these people that are putting in the hard work. So, I did that for a while. So, I was set on fine dining. Something really interesting happened. I then moved on to the Four Seasons in Los Angeles. Worked there under an amazing chef that they had just brought in from Spain.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: One of my chefs had just had a baby. I was engaged to be married to Joseph at the time. He just happened to just be broken down and exhausted, just from being a new parent and working the hours that he was working in this uber fine dining restaurant in the Four Seasons. He was like, "This is no life. I have no life. I just want to be home with my baby." This is this man crying in front of me, and I just was like, "Wow."

Kerry Diamond: That's intense.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: This is eye opening. That moment changed my life because I was like, "I can't do this and be a mom. There is no way that I can handle being pregnant." On your feet for 12 hours, for me, I didn't see ... Women that are in the kitchen, it is such a hard job. Then you have children.

Kerry Diamond: That's a huge issue for so many women in our community.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: This is the dad. This isn't even the woman that just gave birth. This is the father. So, I took that. I literally put in my notice two weeks later because I was private chefing on the side. I got an opportunity to be a full-time private chef. After I got married, I just became a private chef, because I'm like, "I need to figure out how to do both." So, how do you do that? There's not a book you read to be like, "How do you have it all?" So, I'm like, "Let me stage under a woman who has started a business and has had children and, maybe, is running it with her husband." So, I found that woman. My private chefing clients that I worked for, it was a restaurant called Clementine in Century City. Come to find out that this woman, Annie Miler from Clementine in Century City, her mentor was Nancy Silverton, which has always been my idol.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: So, once I learned her history and that she worked directly under Nancy at La Brea Bakery, and then started her own catering and then turned into Clementine the restaurant, and now they have two restaurants, super successful, and she had just had a baby two years prior. Once I found out her story, I was hooked. I'm like, "I don't care if she doesn't pay me. I'm going to work for this woman." I literally went in. She wasn't even hiring. I was like, "I want to work for you." I was making really good money as a private chef. I was like, "I don't care if I take a pay cut. I want to eventually have ... I think I want to have my own business. How do I do that?"

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: So, she knew she couldn't pay me what, maybe, I was making private chefing, and she didn't even have a position open for me. So, I literally started just making soups. I just wanted to kind of ... She would take me to the farmers market with her. I would go to Santa Monica Farmers Market with her Wednesday mornings. She was a celebrity. They saved the best stuff for the chefs. So, we would go together. So, she took me around. Introduced me. I met Nancy Silverton for the first time through her in the kitchen. I was introduced to her in the best way. She was so proud of Annie. So, I was her sous-chef. So, it was such a cool way to meet Nancy. I still joke, if I didn't move to Nashville, I'd probably still be working there. I loved working there.

Kerry Diamond: So, was this the first time ... So, that moment when that chef broke down, who you were working for, was that the first time you realized you had sort of entrepreneurial leanings and might want your own business one day?

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: Yeah, because I saw the process. You see the path when you're working in a restaurant. You see how you move up. I didn't want to work hard to be that. I didn't want that to be my end result.

Kerry Diamond: You knew you wanted kids.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: Yeah. At the time, I was ... I mean, I'm still in love, but you're super in love, you're engaged to be married. Of course, you're thinking of the future. I'm so glad that I put that ... You put so much time into working in the kitchen. That doesn't translate into starting your own business. That's a totally different avenue. So, having that moment and then making that transition early in my career, I was only 22, I think is why I've been so successful now, because I think I recognized that and I've put a lot of time and effort into learning how to run a business. What I learned the most out of working at Clementine is how to treat people, how to treat your employees. They have employees that have worked there for 15, 16 years. I mean, that's an incredible amount of time to work in a restaurant, for a restaurant industry job.

Kerry Diamond: So, tell us the jump from LA to Nashville.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: So, my husband's family is from Nashville, Tennessee. So, we wanted a little bit of a change. He wanted a little bit of a change. We were in the grind. I was working a lot, even though I loved it. We were newly married and living in a ... LA's hard to live in, too. Thinking, "If we ever had a family, it would be really hard to live and work," especially the hours that I was working. So, after working at Clementine for a few years, it was really sad when I left. I was really ... I still keep in touch with her. She's definitely still my mentor. She's really proud of what we've accomplished. They celebrate Grilled Cheese Month at Clementine. That's a huge thing for them. So, that's where I kind of learned, "Oh, hey, you can make fancy grilled cheese and people will pay money for it." They were using La Brea Bakery breads and she was sourcing locally.

Kerry Diamond: So many beautiful cheeses in the LA area.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: Oh my God. Incredible. So, anyway. Moved to Nashville. Started working as a sous-chef. That was where I held my first pastry chef position, when I moved to Nashville.

Kerry Diamond: Who did you work for?

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: I worked under Arnold Myint and Patti Myint, who recently passed away. She's a giant in Nashville food scene. She started International Market in the '70s. She was ... Talk about boss. She just dominated. She had three restaurants. Her son, Arnold, opened up this Spanish tapas restaurant, which was super kind of very new for the time that was opening in Nashville. He hired me on. I was part of the opening crew. It just kind of worked out. I baked all the bread. I ran brunch service. Kind of was the sous-chef/pastry chef. So, I was given a lot of responsibility right on and met so many people right off the bat. I just worked, worked, worked. He's still such a big supporter of The Grilled Cheeserie.

Kerry Diamond: Nashville's such a small town.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: It's such a small town. I tell people that move to Nashville that ask for my advice, business advice or food truck advice, I'm just like, "Don't be rude to people. You never know how you're going to know them. You never know how you're going to eventually have to work with somebody."

Kerry Diamond: Susan Feniger gave us the same advice. We interviewed her just a few hours ago. That was her advice for young people.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: That's great. I mean, leave it to a woman to give that type of advice, too, because you know it comes back around. You never know what employee is going to end up starting a business and running it back to you. So, yeah. We started off. We knew that there was something missing in the Nashville food scene, being from LA. There were a lot of things that Nashville just didn't have. We're still adding a lot of things now. Food trucks was a huge hole. Starting a food truck is a great way to test the market. It's a great way to do research in different areas. Where you're the most popular, what times. So, we did six years of market research, essentially, before we opened a restaurant.

Kerry Diamond: Is Nashville a year round food truck scene?

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: Yeah, it is. Even though it does get really cold, music festivals and events and country music, CMA Fest, whatever, there's so much money that people spend on events there that it's been great for food trucks.

Kerry Diamond: So, tell us the lead up to the food truck. So, did you write a business plan?

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: It happened so fast.

Kerry Diamond: Did you just have an idea?

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: It happened so fast. We decided we wanted to do ... Joseph and I sat and we were like, "We're going to do a food truck." Both of our families are separately in the food truck industry in LA. So, we felt confident knowing some things about it. We literally found a truck on Craigslist. We drove to Arkansas. We could have been murdered. We could have been murdered with cash. We drove to Arkansas with cash, paid for this food truck in cash, and it was so busted. I mean, nothing like the picture, but we didn't know, because we just had never run a truck, how many things were broken on it that he didn't tell us. We spent all this time fixing it.

Kerry Diamond: Did you have to pay cash for the food truck?

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: Yeah, we did.

Kerry Diamond: Do you remember how much it cost?

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: God. We've bought three since. I think that truck, it was something like, maybe, $15,000?

Kerry Diamond: So, you're driving through the south with $15,000 in cash in your car.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: Oh, no. It was crazy. We had no cell service. That was the funny thing. We were driving through the sticks with cash.

Kerry Diamond: I'm glad this isn't one of those murder podcasts and we're talking about a very different story.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: I know. Isn't that crazy? So, we were just laughing because we're like, "This is insane. Nobody does this." So, we got the truck, fixed up what we needed to fix up, and then we opened the day after Thanksgiving.

Kerry Diamond: Did you drive the truck back?

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: No, we had it brought.

Kerry Diamond: Okay.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: On a flatbed, which was probably the smartest thing. We have driven a food truck from New Jersey to Nashville. I slept on the floor of it. We flew to New Jersey to pick it up. Our newest truck that we have, I remember. I got literally hit in the head with the WD40 can. I didn't wake up because that's how tired I was when we were driving back. It's literally the craziest stories. Any food trucker will have the most ridiculous stories. We opened the day after Thanksgiving to a line of people. People were so supportive. So, our success really was because people believed in us and wanted to give us a chance.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: We had a lot of naysayers. I think we started charging six or seven dollars at the time. It really made people upset to charge six or seven dollars for a sandwich, which is hilarious now to think of. We're using local cheese and the butter. I was using Plugrá butter. Everything had the best. I'm thinking now, my food cost was probably off the charts. You just wanted to come out the gate with the best. Still the same local cheese that we're using now. The best ingredients. We definitely started. We used Twitter and Instagram, eventually. Twitter, we had 1,000 followers just before we even opened, which is actually kind of a lot for Twitter, at the time. Communicated with our ... We've always been really active on social media. I think that's kind of the way people have opened their hearts to, "Sorry, guys. The line's too long." Literally, tweeting while we're open. So, people kind of feel a part of it.

Kerry Diamond: We'll be right back with Crystal after this quick break.

Jess Zeidman: Hello. This is producer, Jess Zeidman. You know we have a podcast, but did you also know we have a magazine? We do! We just released our 14th issue. It's all about the intersection of food and fashion. We have five incredible cover girls, including chef and activist, Angela Dimayuga. Guess what? You might even see a story or two written by a certain Radio Cherry Bombe producer about which footwear chefs prefer in the kitchen and my favorite vegetable, cabbage. Subscribe now. For more information about all things Cherry Bombe Magazine, visit

Kerry Diamond: Now, back to Crystal De Luna-Bogan of The Grilled Cheeserie.

Kerry Diamond: In what ways have you become a better businessperson over the years?

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: Oh my God. So, you find out pretty quickly what your weaknesses and strengths are. As you grow, the smartest thing you can do is hire out your weaknesses. We can't all be everything. If you are weak at accounting, your first hire should be an accountant, because that is ... If you don't know if you're making money, you're probably not.

Kerry Diamond: That's the best advice we've gotten all year.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: If you're not sure you're making money, you're probably not making money. Literally, accounting for everything. Making sure everything is organized. That's where Joseph literally makes sure the business makes money.

Kerry Diamond: How did you divide your ... What's the division of labor?

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: We say that I spend the money and he makes it. I'm the one meeting with the local vendors. I set up all those relationships pretty early on because I knew that was important, and that's usually what a chef does when they open a restaurant. They establish relationships, find out what they can get from these farmers and vendors, and have that open line of communication so you can create. So, that's how we did it. We served at farmers markets. That was one of the places that we always were happy to serve. That type of person that was buying local vegetables understood why the grilled cheese was seven dollars. It felt safe. I didn't want to go out late night. I didn't want to be ... We weren't the bar scene food truck. It was me and two of my girlfriends, driving food trucks. They were sitting in the back on the floor of the metal. So illegal. We would never let them do that now. The way they operate the truck, they were literally sitting in fold out chairs while I'm driving on the freeway, things falling down. It was so make shift.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: We knew what we had to work with, and we kept building it as we got more money, which I think was smart. We didn't spend more than we had. Now, the restaurants, that's such a hard thing to do that with, because there's so much money that goes out the door right away. So, we waited six years to open the first restaurant. We partnered with a local restaurant group to do that, because that was just something that ... Real estate in Nashville, that's beyond what we understood. So, we hired out our weaknesses. We partnered with a local ...

Kerry Diamond: What does that mean, to partner with them? Are they investors? Do they own part of your company?

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: Yeah. They partnered. They have part of our company now. Also, the biggest thing for me is the goal was to offer our employees insurance. That was a huge deal for me. Being a small business with 10 employees, you can't do that. It's so expensive. So, partnering with Fresh Hospitality meant that we were under the umbrella of Biscuit Love, Martin's, Juice Bar, all of the partners that they have. So, we acted as a bigger entity with a smaller business. So, they do give us real estate advice. They do own a lot of the properties that we have our restaurants at, which makes it nice because we kind of have this symbiotic relationship.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: They've been in the industry for so long, they help us with things that are just beyond our capabilities. Brand stuff is really just all us, and the build outs and everything has been all Joseph. So, they're really good partners. I never wanted to own a restaurant. That's why we opened a food truck. So, this was kind of a way that I could step into that world.

Kerry Diamond: What hours are you open?

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: So, we're open 11:00 to 9:00 PM, because we don't want to be late night. That's also part of our mission to make a better working environment for our employees. Really big on the culture of how we act. We have open kitchens. We hire smiling faces over capability. We do all of our food from scratch at a commissary. So, we laugh. We put the badass cooks that don't like to smile there. We put the people that genuinely want to talk and interact with people on the line in front of ... Everything is tested and tried at the commissary and then we deliver it to our shops, which is kind of a funny way of making it work for a back of house person.

Kerry Diamond: Tell me how things have changed since you had your baby?

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: Oh my God. Everything's changed. I don't know how ... I don't even know how to work full-time right now. When I was pregnant ... Last year I was nine months pregnant at this time. I had no idea that I would not be working after I had her. I thought I would just go back.

Kerry Diamond: Oh, wow. You didn't plan for maternity leave?

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: No plan. No. When you have a small business, how do you do that? We were opening two restaurants. What does that mean? That just means that there's going to be more work for my husband. So, I guess we kind of were just feeling it out, which is not a good plan. So, I had really bad postpartum anxiety and literally didn't trust my instincts when I first had her. I asked everybody's opinion and didn't listen to my own maternal instinct. It's like you don't even ... You cannot prepare for something like that. I was so consumed with germs and bedtimes and sleep, naps, and wake windows. There's all these things that just consume your mind. I couldn't focus on day-to-day operations of the restaurant. You're sleep deprived, which is torture. So, I was all consumed. While all that is happening, we're in full blown construction on two restaurants.

Kerry Diamond: I can't. I can't even imagine.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: And spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on build outs and hiring dozens of people for these restaurants. So, Joseph took all of that on. My mom came from Los Angeles to come stay with us and pretty much take care of me, because I wasn't eating. I lost 63 pounds in two months, which is crazy, because I wasn't eating enough for how much I was breastfeeding my daughter. It was this crazy whirlwind of I didn't want to leave the house because everyone had the flu. It's insane. So, with all that said, they knew that I wasn't really in a place to take on day-to-day operations, which was a blessing because they promoted some amazing people in the company. They are doing so awesome right now. It's just a better working relationship for Joseph, because he's not depending on somebody who's sleep deprived to do functional things.

Kerry Diamond: When did the clouds start to part for you?

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: I have an amazing team of people. I knew pretty early on that you can't do everything yourself. So, I have an amazing postpartum therapist, Amy Green. She's incredible. She's a mama herself. So, she totally understands. She works with a lot of industry people. She works with a lot of food people. I think what makes me a good chef is that I have a lot of anxiety. I have that surge of excitement. I love before service. I love pre-shift. I'm a fast line cook. I love that part of me. I think my anxiety drives that, in a positive way. But when your anxiety takes over, you don't know how to balance it all. Then you have this baby and you're sleep deprived. So, you're just kind of undone. All of a sudden, you don't know how to take a shower. When do I take a shower? You just don't know how to do your day. It feels relentless.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: So, I have her. My doula was amazing. She kept checking in on me way beyond what we paid her for. She just kept checking in on me. All these women gathered around me and kind of saw that I was in despair and needed help. My girlfriends would come over and just hold my baby while I ate. I mean, that's huge. That's a huge service to me, to come over. Joseph was so busy with the restaurant openings. Come over and just hold her while I ate food. Whenever I see a new mom, I'm like, "Aw!" Your heart just ... You know what they're going through. If they're working, if they're going back to work right away, I just have a pit in my stomach. I'm like, "How are you even doing it?" But not everybody has postpartum anxiety. It's so common.

Kerry Diamond: How are you feeling today?

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: I feel amazing. I finally feel like I'm back. My identity is that I worked. When you take that away, you don't know who you are anymore. All of a sudden, you're a mom and you're like, "I don't know what I'm doing." So, I just went from being at the top of my game, knowing everything I'm doing. I'm such a list maker. I'm a cross everything off. "I killed today!" Going to literally not knowing what day it was, when did I take a shower, and I didn't do anything, oh my God. "I haven't even checked in at the restaurant." You go from one to the other. Your identity is completely lost, which is insane. So, just normalizing it and knowing that's okay, and stop apologizing every time I'm somewhere five minutes late.

Kerry Diamond: I'm sitting here listening to your story and I'm like, "I wonder what advice Crystal has for other small business owners, or women in the industry, when they have their baby?" I don't even know that there are any solutions when you own your own business.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: There literally is not. I think just helping. Those little things. I was on a panel. I committed to do so many things. I'm always doing events and community things. So, I had these commitments that I had agreed to do after having her, and quickly just was like, "Oh my God. How am I even going to leave the house?" Doing them and having my sister-in-law come and hold Luna. Literally, she went with me to a panel that I was speaking on. I could see her in the back. I wasn't ready to also leave her. So, I feel like those little things are how I got through it. There is no real answer, I have found yet, to how you can work full-time as a restaurant chef and have kids and breastfeed your kids. She's a breastfed baby. So, she doesn't take a bottle. It's literally impossible to leave her and her not be hungry. I'm like, "When you find out the answer, can somebody tell me?" I think I've asked a lot of people. I'm like, "How do you do it?"

Kerry Diamond: I got to meet Eden Grinshpan last night.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: Oh my God.

Kerry Diamond: A good friend of ours. She's amazing at the Le Cordon Bleu dinner. She's a big breastfeeding advocate. Did you two get to talk?

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: We did.

Kerry Diamond: Trade notes.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: We traded more than notes. I think we traded poop stores, funny breastfeeding stories. The predicaments you get in when you're trying to be normal and do normal things with your friends, especially when they don't have babies, you quickly realize who your people are, who is easier to hang out with. It is ... We literally clicked talking about these terrible baby stories, which I think were freaking out some of the women at the table that didn't have kids. It was pretty funny.

Kerry Diamond: But it's taking women like you and Eden and Camilla Marcus, who's started a whole childcare program for her restaurant, Westbourne. She's working with this company that's trying to disrupt childcare. She's providing daycare and night care for her employees.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: Wow! That's incredible. That is literally the only way, I think, it's going to resolve. Because there are some amazing companies, like Spanx, that are women owned and operated and that have the childcare facilities in the buildings. I think that's the only way when you have little babies before they're in school, and trying to pump and breastfeed. If that's for you, if you're trying to do that, it makes your life ... You can't go anywhere for more than two hours. I don't even know how you do that in New York, by the time you get anywhere. I did an event and I literally was in pain. It ran long so I had to get home. Your body physically doesn't allow you. It reminds you, you have to feed a human.

Kerry Diamond: I think the more young women we have in the industry, running kitchens, running restaurants, like you, Camilla, and so many other examples, that's how change is happening.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: Yeah. I believe so. Now my focus is how do I work and involve Luna? How do I do it where she isn't something that's bothersome coming with me? It's more of like, "Oh, she has a role in whatever she's doing." I had already been doing kid's cooking classes. Now I'm even expanding on the idea of doing more. How many of us have to cook with one hand? I'm constantly, now, cooking everything with her on my hip. She's really attached to me right now. I'm like, "Let me create a recipe that you can prep when they're sleeping and then be able to make one handed dinner." It's eating at the counter. It's the funniest. Whatever she's eating, that's what I'm eating. That's why I think she loves food, because she is eating things that I want to eat. I don't want to eat baby food. So, we're eating squash and roasted vegetables. Obviously, prepared with less salt and everything, which is actually better for me.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: I love this incorporating her and not making her a burden. I think a lot of moms feel the same way. I think if we make it easier, and somebody kind of figures out a way to make it easier. Meal delivery services for postpartum, I think, is an underserved market. I would have paid so much good money to have the foods that would help my breast milk production delivered to me. Not just gourmet cooking class kind of thing. Give me the foods that I need and let me heat it up. I don't really want to cut anything. Being a chef, people are like, "Oh, I don't want to bring you food." I'm like, "Bring me food. I'm not going to be judging it. I'm literally starving. She's taking so many calories away from my body. I can't eat enough." I didn't really ... You're not hungry, also, because you've just gone through a major trauma. It's the craziest thing. Eden and I were talking about how it's funny that people do it again. How do you forget?

Kerry Diamond: Right. I'm one of five. I'm always like, "Did you just forget?"

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: You do forget. The sleep deprivation, you forget.

Kerry Diamond: It's like opening another restaurant. You just kind of forget how hard it is.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: Yeah. It's exactly like that. That is exactly what it's like, because it's crazy to open a restaurant. You see a cute baby and you're like, "Aw, I want another baby." That's how it is when you find another location. You're like, "Oh, this location's so great." Then you start dreaming of all the positive things and forget all the construction delays and over budget, not having enough staff. You forget all that stuff. But it's funny because we did it twice over this year and had the baby, so we're like, "Why are we ..."

Kerry Diamond: Well, it's all working out for you.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: It really is though. So, no complaints.

Kerry Diamond: We are going to make an abrupt transition. We can't let you leave without talking about how to make the perfect grilled cheese sandwich.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: Of course. Okay. So, my tips are a medium temperature, an even medium temperature, something to press it with. So, we use cast iron griddle presses. So, you can wrap a brick or a heavy cast iron pan. Having even heat. If you are somebody who's not scared of mayo and have a flat top or a pan that's iffy in certain spots, I would use mayo because it's oil, and oil has a higher smoking temperature than butter.

Kerry Diamond: Yeah. I wanted to ask you how you felt about mayo on the outside of the bread versus butter.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: I'm fine with it. Butter has better flavor.

Kerry Diamond: What do you do at The Grilled Cheeserie?

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: So, we do butter.

Kerry Diamond: You do butter. Okay.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: Because we have even cooking temperatures. We use a butter wheel. When we were starting ...

Kerry Diamond: Wait, you use a butter wheel?

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: We have a butter wheel.

Kerry Diamond: Wait, what's a butter wheel?

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: So, in a stainless steel pan, we have melted butter. It's literally a metal rolling pin that you roll the bread onto. It evenly distributes the butter.

Kerry Diamond: Look who's back!

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: Oh.

Kerry Diamond: Hello!

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: Little baby.

Kerry Diamond: Look at your little necklace. We didn't see that before.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: She's wearing a future is female shirt, too.

Kerry Diamond: Aw.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: But it's in Spanish.

Kerry Diamond: Is that a papaya?

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: It's a papaya.

Kerry Diamond: Oh, sweetheart!

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: Onesie.

Kerry Diamond: Oh, I love a ... You two match. She's got her papaya onesie and you've got an adult onesie on.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: We always match.

Kerry Diamond: Aka a jumpsuit.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: My mom did that to me. I was like, "Never!" Then I'm like, "Oh, wait. No, that's cool." I'm going to do that until she revolts.

Kerry Diamond: You going to come hang out with us? It's okay. So, wait. A butter wheel. Okay. That's ...

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: Yeah. Butter wheel.

Kerry Diamond: Amazing discovery.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: When we were in the truck, because temperature is such a huge ... Whatever the temperature is outside, it's that times 10 inside, whether it's cold or hot. We used mayo to help make the butter more spreadable. So, we did a 50/50 whipped butter and mayo. We have the luxuries of being inside at the restaurant. So, we just do the butter now because of the flavor.

Kerry Diamond: Okay. So, butter wheel. Amazing.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: Okay. Butter wheel. Sliced bread. I would say sliced bread because it's even. You don't want anything too thick.

Kerry Diamond: Kind of jagged.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: Yeah, jagged. Always cheese touching bread.

Kerry Diamond: Always cheese touching bread. Okay.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: So, butter, bread, cheese, filling of whatever.

Kerry Diamond: What are some fillings of choice these days?

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: Fillings of choice are, at The Grilled Cheeserie, things like caramelized shallot and apple jam, or crispy local bacon. Other ways of incorporating cheese, like blue cheese aioli. So, we take really good blue cheese and we shred it like cheese and then make an aioli and then fold in the cheese. So, it has a nice melty kind of situation. We have a buffalo chicken melt, pulled organic chicken.

Kerry Diamond: I'm so hungry right now.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: Yeah. We take really good proteins and we're using organic chicken and local products. We do a rare roast beef from Porter Road Butcher and serve it with an au jus from the drippings.

Kerry Diamond: Yum.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: It's fun. You have a roast beef dip. It's kind of like thinking outside the box.

Kerry Diamond: What's a hot cheese right now?

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: I say, in Tennessee, in general, pimento cheese is still kind of always ...

Kerry Diamond: I love pimento cheese.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: What people like when they come. For me, I feel like the buttermilk cheddar is so special and unique to southern ...

Kerry Diamond: Who makes buttermilk cheddar?

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: The local creamery that we use in East Tennessee. So, it has a very sharp, sharp, sharp cheddar kind of flavor but really creamy. I think it just goes really well. It goes well with that shallot and apple jam that we do.

Kerry Diamond: All right. We're going to do a quick speed round.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: Okay.

Kerry Diamond: Ready?

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: Yeah.

Kerry Diamond: Favorite kitchen utensil.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: Oh my God. Spatula.

Kerry Diamond: Spatula? Okay. Good one. A treasured cookbook in your collection?

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: Ooh. The Last Course, Claudia Fleming. That literally is one of my first nice dessert cookbooks and a treasured cookbook of mine.

Kerry Diamond: A song that makes you smile.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: Oh my God. If You're Happy and You Know It because I sing it all day, every day.

Kerry Diamond: Aw. What's the oldest thing in your fridge?

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: Oh my God. Pickled something. A constant pickle of something that I just keep adding vegetables to.

Kerry Diamond: Okay. Last question. If you had to be trapped on a desert island with one food celebrity, who would it be and why?

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: Oh my God, a food celebrity. Okay, Nancy Silverton because I think she definitely would know how to survive. We could just bake bread in this imaginary oven that we have.

Kerry Diamond: On your desert island.

Crystal De Luna-Bogan: Yeah, on this desert island. Just bread and butter.

Kerry Diamond: That's it for today's show. Thank you to Crystal De Luna-Bogan for coming by Radio Cherry Bombe with her family. If you're in Nashville, be sure to get a grilled cheese at one of her Grilled Cheeserie locations. Thank you to today's sponsor, the book Sugar Free 3 by Michele Promaulayko. We'd love for you to subscribe to Radio Cherry Bombe wherever you get your podcasts, and we'd love if you could rate and review the show. Radio Cherry Bombe is edited, engineered, and produced by Jess Zeidman. Our theme song is All Fired Up by the band Tralala. Thanks for listening, everybody. You are the bomb.

When Harry Met Sally Clip: I'll have what she's having.

Destiny Luna: Hi, my name is Destiny Luna. I work at The Wing. Do you want to know who I think is the bomb? Martha Stewart because she's very chill, nice, and from what I have seen, very easy to get along with.