Today we’d like to introduce you to Daniel Wolfe.
Daniel, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I’m a born and raised Texan and more importantly, a born and raised Houstonian. I grew up in the suburbs in Missouri City with my family and lived a very good life growing up. I lived in an upper middle-class family with my parents and my older sister. I went to a good public school and was involved in extra-curricular activities. When I was in fourth grade, I took up Martial Arts at a local dojo.
When I hit middle school, I went through a very difficult period that I like to think played a huge role in shaping the person I am today and my drive for success. I started to get in trouble in school, resulting in almost weekly trips to the principal’s office. I was in ISS (In-School Suspension) or suspended weekly as well. I was bullied frequently to the point I would skip class just to avoid certain people. My problems with school started causing problems at home and it felt like I was in a toxic environment regardless of where I was. Part of the reason I was struggling so much in school was that I was not being challenged enough and often became bored. If I’ve learned anything, I don’t handle boredom well! My martial arts instructors saw I was struggling and pulled me aside in class one day. They told me about this new school they were starting that was a self-paced college prep program and asked if I’d be interested. After going to an open house with my parents, I convinced them to pull me out of public school and I started 7th grade at my new school. Within one year, I successfully completed 7th, 8th and 9th grade.
My problems went away for about a year, home-life got better, and I was feeling happier. After that year though, things took a turn for the worse again and I can’t really remember what the turning point was exactly. Things got so bad that I became depressed, started experiencing suicidal thoughts and started to make pretty poor decisions. My life was heading down a bad path and my parents intervened. I was admitted to a rehab program at the age of fourteen in Utah. When I returned home, I was doing good for a week or so, but then fell back into a slump, depression kicked back in and the suicidal thoughts seemed to be coming more often than not.
Shortly after, I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital and then another rehab/therapy program for a year and a half. The rehab facility I was in was pure misery and some of the things that happened there still haunt me. With all that said, there is one shining moment that happened there that really stuck with me. About two weeks before I was discharged, I asked one of the counselors “If I were to get discharged tomorrow, where do you see me going”. They sat me down and were dead honest with me, “If you leave tomorrow, my guess is you’ll be dead, in jail, or back in here within two weeks.” Hearing this was the forceful push I needed to turn my life around and I’ve been on the amazing path since.
When I left my rehab/therapy program at the age of sixteen, I was a high school graduate, had some college credit and was in a much better place. I returned home with my parents, got a job and started at community college.
After a year, I enrolled in classes at the University of Houston and was a Supply Chain Management Major. I quickly realized that wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life and switched to a Hotel & Restaurant Management major with an emphasis in Events & Catering. While in school, I was extremely active with student organizations, worked for a premier catering company, and studied abroad for a year in Israel. I graduated from UH in May of 2016. Once graduated, I went through a couple of jobs until I ended up working in my current job, H-E-B. I work as a Chef & Manager for H-E-B in their Cooking Connection Department and absolutely love it. Working in an environment where I get to craft recipes for a wide variety of clientele really drives my creativity and my passion for food.
Wolfe & Wine got started in April 2018 after my initial year of volunteering for the Wine Garden Committee at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. While volunteering, word got out that I could cook and people asked me to cook food for them. On our volunteer appreciation night, I brought one of my signature dishes, my 5-Cheese Mac N’ Cheese and it was gone within ten minutes. After the Rodeo ended, I had the idea to start hosting pop-up wine dinners as a way to socialize and also share my love of food and wine. When I announced my first dinner, I was almost instantly sold out. That led to the second event in May which sold out within forty-eight hours. After my second event and listening to the feedback of my attendees, I formed my own business, Wolfe & Wine – Chef Curated Experiences and that brings us to today!
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I wouldn’t necessarily say my life has been a smooth road, but I’d phrase it as a lot of twists, turns, and forks in the road. Everything that I experienced as a teenager/young adult is part of what made me the man I am today. Once I graduated college, I got a rude awakening into the real world. I was let go from a job after barely two months. I spent six months searching for a job after that and then was let go again shortly after starting. All of that said, I’d have to say my biggest obstacle as an aspiring chef would have to be my fear of blood. I used to become very lightheaded and sometimes fainted at the sight of blood, whether it was human or animals from processing them etc. Over the years, I’ve slowly worked on that obstacle and now it’s almost not a problem and I can work with meats of all types.
Houston’s always been home to me and I feel like I have a very lucky spot in this incredible city. Whenever I needed motivation or an extra push to accomplish something I had my mind on, I’d take a drive on I-10 and pass the famous “Be Someone” sign. Simply seeing that sign with the background of Downtown Houston is enough to motivate me to fight every obstacle and push to “Be Someone Amazing.” In fact, the sign means so much to me and motivates me so much, I had it painted in my house.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Wolfe & Wine – Chef Curated Experiences story. Tell us more about the business.
Wolfe & Wine is a chef-driven catering company that primarily focuses on pop-up dinners with wine pairings for the time being. We specialize in crafting decadent menus and implementing a variety of cooking styles and techniques. In my opinion, the major thing that separates Wolfe & Wine from others is what I like to call informal formalness. What I mean by that is the way I conduct my dinners. The tables may be dressed in linen and fine china, however as a host/chef, I don’t require a dress code, I’m usually pretty unfiltered and I enjoy getting to know my guests. Usually at my events, about half of the attendees are new people who heard about Wolfe & Wine from a friend or from our website. By the time they leave, I make it a point to get to know them, even if its only their name.
Something else that many of my guests and attendees comment on is the artwork that I have on display in my house. I chose the word “curated” in my tag line for a reason. I enjoy sourcing my food, designing the menus, planning the events, and curating special experiences. In addition to my culinary talents, I also have a passion for designing artwork. All of the artwork in my house is custom designed and commissioned by local artists including Skeez181 and K8 Hopper Artz. My art has a theme, usually houston centric.
That personal connection is a huge difference that sets me apart from other businesses. In the future, Wolfe & Wine Events has some very exciting plans, but for now, they are staying under wraps.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
Once graduated, I went through a couple of jobs until I ended up working for H-E-B that I absolutely love, so I can definitively say the start of my good luck was brought on by a bit of bad luck. Hurricane Harvey hit Houston in August 2017, and it was through my UH alumni connections that I was able to help run a disaster kitchen at NRG provided by H-E-B. Ultimately a recruiter reached out and the rest is history! I now work as a Chef/Manager for H-E-B in their Cooking Connection Department where I get to craft recipes for a wide variety of clientele which really drives my creativity and my passion for food. My good luck continued last year when I found out I was selected to volunteer with the Wine Garden Committee at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. While volunteering, word got out that I could cook and people started asking me to cook food for them. On our volunteer appreciation night, I brought one of my signature dishes, my 5-Cheese Mac N’ Cheese and it was gone within ten minutes. All of the support and comments I received inspired me and gave me the confidence to expand my culinary skills. After the Rodeo ended, I had the idea to start hosting pop-up wine dinners as a way to socialize and also share my love of food and wine. When I announced my first dinner, I was almost instantly sold out, that led to the second event in May which sold out within forty-eight hours. After my second event and listening to the feedback of my attendees, I formed my own business, Wolfe & Wine Events – Chef Curated Experiences and that brings us to today!
- Holiday Wine Dinner – $65 + ticketing fee
- Website: www.wolfeandwine.com
- Phone: 281-881-9966
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wolfe_wine_events/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wolfewineevents/
- Other: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/holiday-wine-dinner-tickets-49075129032?aff=voyage
Wolfe & Wine Events, Nicole Sergent Photography