Shawn Davis, Chef Big Shake, started cooking in a professional kitchen when he was just 12 years old. His mother decided her son needed a healthy distraction over the summer break.

In just seven years in his seasonal position, Shawn had worked his way from up from dishwasher to head chef. Under Gio Palermo’s mentorship at the C. J. Palermo restaurant, Shawn learned the ins and outs of the restaurant business.

Little did Shawn know that his experience at the Palermo restaurant would prove to be life-changing not only for his passion for food, but also for the inspirational, entrepreneurial journey he would take.

In 1983, when Shawn Davis, a Bayshore, New York native was a mere 12-years old, his mother decided that her tween son needed a healthy distraction when school let out. So, when a co-worker told her about a job opening in Ocean Beach, Fire Island at C.J. Palermo’s restaurant, she got Shawn onto the ferry.  That 30-minute trip turned into a seasonal post for Shawn and within seven years he worked his way up from Dishwasher to Head Chef. Under Giovanni “Gio” Palermo’s mentorship, Shawn learned the ins and outs of the restaurant business and was even affectionately referred to as a “black son” by Gio himself. Since Shawn lived with Gio and his family every summer and worked side-by-side with him each day, the title was more than fitting. When Shawn left C.J. Palermo’s in 1990, he realized his experience there proved to be life-changing; it not only ignited his passion for food but also laid the groundwork for his inspirational, entrepreneurial journey ahead.

 

From 1989 to 1991, Davis attended Norfolk State University in Virginia, wherein he studied Hotel and Restaurant Management. In 1994, he accepted a job with G.E. Capital.  Working in various roles from Project Management to Collection Center Manager, he completed DMAIC process training and even received a Black Belt certification. It was at G.E. Capital that he met his now-wife, Robin. On their first date, they realized they shared a passion for entrepreneurship and decided to start a business.  The next day, they did just that. Shawn and Robin had several businesses, and a catering company was always one of them.

 

Years later and married with kids, Shawn’s daughter, then age 10, received a pamphlet at school promoting vegetarianism and when she got home, she declared that she wanted to eliminate all meats, except seafood from her diet thereon. Shawn knew that in order to keep her protein intake at an optimum level, he would need to get creative and crafty in the kitchen.  And, so he did.  Hence, his first creation, the “Original Shrimp Burger,” was born.  The kids loved it, friends and neighbors loved it too. Realizing that there was a vast market for his succulent beef burger alternative, Robin suggested that they head into the food industry full-time. CBS Foods Incorporated was formed in 2007.

 

In May of 2011, Shawn appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank, giving his shrimp burgers and the company national exposure. ABC has since re-aired his countless times further igniting consumer brand recognition. In September of 2011, the show’s producers filmed a follow-up segment on Shawn’s success. That episode aired in 2012.

 

In 2013, Shawn and Robin signed a lease on their first restaurant in Franklin, TN. Big Shake’s Hot Chicken and Fish was quickly embraced by the community. The small family-owned restaurant became very popular and within months they knew they would need a bigger location. In December of the same year, they signed a lease for their second location in Franklin, TN. Soon after, they opened locations in Goodlettsville, TN, Madison, AL, and Huntsville, AL.

 

Today, Big Shake’s Hot Chicken is a franchise concept with locations opening soon in Columbia, TN, Nashville, TN, Tuscaloosa, AL, and Tampa, FL.

 

Davis is still married to his “right arm” and Vice President, Robin.  They have two children together and still reside in Tennessee. As a die-hard fans of music, you can find them making food, music and spreading love.

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Chef Big Shake

Shawn Davis

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