Bill and Shanny Apodaca met in 1994 at the Culinary Institute of America (the other CIA) in Hyde Park, New York. Their relationship bloomed as they served together on the board of The Gourmet Society, a campus club. The vigorous two-year CIA program includes an externship—Bill headed to Aqua in San Francisco, Shanny to Robert Redford’s Sundance Resort in Utah. After graduation, Shanny and Bill enjoyed a year in Santa Fe, New Mexico at Mark Miller’s Coyote Café.
Shanny worked pastry and Bill worked grill, but the most fun they had was outside of work, mountain biking, camping, snowboarding and hiking. It was on one of their bike rides that they decided to start “Simply Good” and move to Royal Oak, Michigan, where Shanny owned a home. For Bill, born in California and raised in Oregon, Michigan was a big change, but he grew to love the Royal Oak area as much as Shanny does.
Shanny and Bill worked hard to grow Simply Good—they catered, cooked for families and baked cookies. But after a year and a half without a vacation, they both decided to try the corporate life at The Tournament Players Club (TPC) in Dearborn, Michigan. They enjoyed working together at TPC for three years, Bill as Executive Chef and Shanny as Special Events Coordinator. But as Shanny says, “We finally figured out it was more fun to belong to a country club than to work at one.”
Shanny left the TPC to grow Simply Good as a hand-made hand-dipped cookie business. Bill took a job as sous chef at Tribute in Farmington Hills, Michigan, working with Takashi Yagihashi, winner of the James Beard Foundation “Best Chef: Midwest” Award. In his three years at Tribute, Bill enjoyed preparing the contemporary French/Asian-influenced menus that inspired the New York Times to refer to Tribute as “the finest restaurant between New York and Chicago.”
Meanwhile, Shanny lost her commercial kitchen space and went to work for a wine distributor, where she discovered “it’s much more fun to drink wine than to sell wine.” In October of 2002, Bill gave her some sound advice. “Shanny,” he said, “you’ve always said you wanted to teach cooking classes. Why don’t you give it a try?” Bill created a list of classes he thought she would like to teach and Shanny put together her first mailing. Simply Good was reborn as a cooking school.
Since that time, the small mailing list has exploded. Shanny had found her niche. Simply Good classes were so successful, Bill left Tribute to join her full time. Working together again, they now enjoy teaching the art of simple good food at the Simply Good Kitchen.