I was raised in Tampa FL, where I fell in love with the “Beach Life.” I grew up eating Floribbean Cuisine (Imagine good ole’ southern fried cooking with tons of fresh fish and fruit.) I remember going to the beach as a little boy and getting all you can eat crab legs and shrimp with my dad. I couldn’t think of a better meal. Succulent juicy crab legs, drawn, melty garlic butter, beaming rays of sunshine and great company to share it with. To this day I still return to the same beach with my dad for what I like to think of as “My favorite meal.” At the same time I got involved in the music scene around Tampa. I developed an equal passion for hard-rockin’, kick ass, guitar driven bands. I even started a band of my own. These two passions would shape the rest of my life.
I was Home schooled from Jr. high school through my senior year, so I had a lot of free time. I would spend hours a day playing my guitar until mom would come home from work and then we would spend hours playing in the kitchen. I started to understand the kitchen and the valuable purpose of a good cook when I was about 8 years old. I thought my mother was the best cook in the world…and she is…and I loved to be in the kitchen creating and cooking dinner for my dad and sisters.
Through Julia Child, Graham Kerr, The Frugal Gourmet, The Sunshine Cuisine, Martha Stewart, and Katie Brown I began to see not only how valuable a good cook was but also how entertaining they could be. I sought out the Culinary Institute of America for an education. I learned more in that first year than I thought possible. I learned the basics of cooking on a high level, I learned the foundation of what makes a kitchen operate. I wanted to share the experience of creating excellent food and I found that to be my passionate pursuit in this culinary world. Through this medium, I can share my vision with people, teach my perspective of food and hopefully inspire them the way I have been inspired myself.
I began my education at the illustrious Culinary Institute of America in October of 2000. My culinary paradigm was forever changed in one day. This culinary Mecca, this establishment of excellence, is a place where nerdy, boring introverts were transformed into culinary studs with golden locks of Foie gras and bulging knife muscles or in the exact opposite way, people with no clue or drive for the creation of deliciousness were transformed from the popular kid in high school with his Varsity letterman jacket into the kid that gets ridiculed for his “Coolness.” It was no popularity contest here.
So, that brings me to Manhattan…I moved to NYC after graduation in late 2004 into a tiny apartment in Harlem. I started working in the nicest restaurants I could to broaden my knowledge of the NYC scene. From small French bistro and fine dining to authentic Mexican and steak houses, I had the awesome opportunity to see some great (and not so great) food. The “not so great” is actually what I have taken the most education from. I have been disappointed by hype and completely surprised and inspired by the average hole in the wall diner.
I have so much respect for the chefs I have worked for and the achievements they have attained. In that process, I have found where my passion for food is. I began to think, “How can I rock out and cook at the same time?”, “How can I bring people together and have a great time as a career!?” I think I figured it out…or at least I almost have. I suppose the journey from here will be my greatest yet. I can’t wait to see what happens next.