It’s a question we all ask at one time or another: There are things that I’m passionate about, but how can I make a living doing what I love? John Schlimm ’94 seems to have found the answer.
John was born and raised in St. Marys, Pennsylvania, where his family still runs one of the oldest family-owned and operated breweries in the country: Straub Brewery, founded by John’s great, great grandfather.
During his time at Marymount, John changed majors more than once. He jumped from Fashion Design to Graphic Design and finally landed in Communications, with an emphasis in Public Relations. He minored in Studio Arts and wrote for the student newspaper, then called The Blue Banner. He says, “My Marymount experience taught me that I could go in many different directions – and that it was okay!”
Soon after graduation, John published his first book, Corresponding with History: The Art & Benefits of Collecting Autographs. The book describes how he began compiling his massive autograph collection, which now numbers more than 4,000 pieces. Professionally, he served in the Communications Office of the Vice President of the United States, then moved on to work as a production assistant and scriptwriter for a national radio show. After that John was off to Nashville, Tennessee, where he put his degree in public relations to use as a publicist in the country music industry, working with superstars like Naomi Judd and The Dixie Chicks.
A few years later, with a desire to return to his roots, John moved back to Pennsylvania. He attended the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, where he earned his dual Secondary teaching certifications in English and Speech Communication. He then went on to get his master’s in Education from Harvard University. Graduate degree in hand, John returned to the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford – this time not to study, but to teach public relations courses.
Still feeling like there were other interesting avenues to pursue, John decided to tap into what he knew best – beer. Pulling out old beer-based recipes, he compiled a cookbook featuring recipes that use his family’s beer as the main ingredient.
The Straub Beer Cookbook was published in 2003. It was so successful that John decided to do another: The Straub Beer Party Drinks Handbook, published in 2004. He says, “I want, more than anything, to create a party in a book when it comes to my cookbooks. I love when I hear from people across the country who are setting the menu themes for their parties based on one of my books.”
Having found what seemed to be his purpose, John wrote several regional cookbooks before hitting it big with his most well known work, The Ultimate Beer Lover’s Cookbook. He calls it the “bible of beer” because it’s the largest beer cookbook ever published and includes more than 400 food and drink recipes using – you guessed it – beer as a main ingredient. In 2009, The Ultimate Beer Lover’s Cookbook was named the Best Beer Book in the World by Gourmand International, earning John an array of television appearances, from QVC to hosting a “beer breakfast bash for America” on Fox & Friends on the morning after President Obama’s famous “Beer Summit” at the White House.
Promoting his award-winning cookbook on a cross-country tour with Caesars Entertainment led John to his 2010 project: The Seven Stars Cookbook: Recipes from World-Class Casino Restaurants. A collaboration between John and Caesars Entertainment, the book showcases the best of what Caesars’ culinary luminaries are doing across the country. Having just finished the national book tour for The Seven Stars Cookbook, John says that working on this project has given him “enormous respect for chefs as hard-working artists.” The book has received rave reviews and was recently named one of the Best Cookbooks in the U.S. by Gourmand International.
John approaches each of his cookbooks as a work of art, crafting collections that will enable readers to eat, laugh, and live life to the fullest. He says that he is grateful for his art classes at Marymount, which cultivated his ability to see things through an artistic lens, making his books more than just words on paper. Currently, John is working on a new book, The Tipsy Vegan: Boozy Recipes for Throwing the Ultimate Party in Your Mouth, which will be released this fall. As the title suggests, John says, “This one will definitely be another party in a book!” And his advice for those who want to find a way to transform their passion into a living? “The road to yes is paved with many no’s. If you learn from them, you’ll eventually get to the big yes that’s waiting for you.”