How a fine dining veteran of world-renowned Per Se and Noma turned shop talk into a full-time podcast production company
CM: You’re a South Carolina native, but you’ve worked at iconic fine dining restaurants around the world, such as The French Laundry and Noma. Of your 17 years in the food and beverage world, which restaurant would you say made the biggest impact on your life?
LC: Thomas Keller’s Per Se in New York City. I didn’t have the work experience to get a job there, but an acquaintance helped me get my foot in the door. I fell in love with the culture at Per Se; it was very competitive and high energy, almost like a team sport, unlike any other restaurant I’d worked in. It was the place where my work in the food industry transitioned from being “just another job” to a career.
CM: Where did the idea for EffinB Radio come from?
LC: In my previous life, back in 2005, I studied piano performance at the College of Charleston. After working in restaurants post-graduation, I moved back to Charleston in 2014 and started working at FIG as a server. One night, my coworkers Philip Michael Cohen and Nikki Fairman popped over to my house downtown for a nightcap. We were sitting on the porch talking shop, and my husband, who listens to podcasts all the time, mentioned our restaurant chatter would make an interesting show people would listen to. We chewed on that idea and eventually decided to do it. Plus, I had this detailed experience in how to record and produce music, enabling me to handle the back end work to get EffinB off the ground.
CM: So what’s your show about?
LC: EffinB Radio is a comedy podcast that takes an insider’s look at the food and beverage industry. We talk behind-the-scenes with chefs or sommeliers who share compelling stories about their lives in the business. I also love the characters who don’t get the spotlight as much. One of our best episodes features a second-generation Domino’s Pizza driver who delivers pies in a customized convertible Mustang.
CM: You now also run your own podcast production company called LMC Soundsystem. How did you turn one show into this broader platform?
LC: I kept getting requests from people who were after the sound and structure of EffinB for their own podcasts. I saw the potential for a business when I met Kate Fagan and Kathryn Budig of ESPN’s Free Cookies podcast last year. Kate was leaving ESPN, so she needed a new production company. They were my only client for a while until I returned from maternity leave after having my third child, at which point I started taking on more clients. Now I produce about 10 podcasts—everything from pop culture to health, fitness, and wellness conversations—from my home studio, full-time.
CM: Do you miss server life?
LC: I’ve worked in restaurants since I was 14, so you might say I’ve been having a little existential crisis. I miss the energy and camaraderie, but there are a lot of parallels between the food world and what I do now. Producing podcasts is kind of like waiting on the same table for a really long time because you’re trying to give the client exactly what they want. The most important skill I’ve learned is the ability to pay attention to people and how they respond to seemingly insignificant details; that know-how is crucial to production in any capacity. Being more focused on creating and writing definitely feels like where I’m supposed to be now. That I’m able to do that for a living is something I still haven’t gotten used to. It feels like cheating.
Photographs by (Collins) Lizzy Smith, (Paisano’s) Michelle Bolton, (bread) Vanessa Kauffmann, & courtesy of (Hamilton) Lindsay Collins