Creative Chef | Traveler | Gardener
My love for food began as a young child; my Italian grandmother insisted on cooking everything from scratch and her attention to detail inspired me. If I wanted to eat like she fed us, I was going to have to learn to cook it myself. My passion grew as I traveled and tasted foods from other cultures, the different experiences I’ve picked up along the way have made me the chef I am today. (I’ve also had some food struggles of my own; having to research and learn new adaptations has made me more rounded and prepared for dietary restrictions.) For me, cooking isn’t just about following recipes, I follow the food back to its source. As an avid gardener I’ve been able to cultivate and grow a lot of my own, which brings an element of warmth and care to what I already love to do. As a Chicago native, I couldn’t be happier having moved to California, where the growing season never ends. My brother in-law and I have our own garden plot and we can’t wait to start on it soon.
What made you want to become a chef?
"The fact that no one in my house really cooked while growing up, we usually ate prepared meals like market day and other frozen ready to eat items. This was a pretty big turn off for me, so after eating dinner at a few friends houses with more home cooked meals and then the magnificent feasts at my grandmothers I took it upon myself to start cooking my own meals, and from that point on I have never stopped."
What is your signature dish?
"I can’t really say that I have a signature dish I love cooking in general, however I can say that I have been working on a Bolognese and Italian gravy for over 12 years."
What are the five ingredients you can’t live without?
"Garlic, onion, olive oil, wine, butter (Citrus)"
What do you love about cooking?
EVERYTHING, the smells, the number of flavors you get to experience, but most of all the joy of making something delicious and then getting to share it with someone else.
When you’re creating a new recipe, what influences and inspires you?
All that’s around me. The seasons are always influential based on what’s available, the target market, what’s worked in an area before and what hasn’t. Personal experiences such as recent trips, all these things are what goes into making a new recipe; your presenting a little piece of yourself every time.
What advice would you give a new cook?
Get as much experience as you can working under as many chefs as you can read all the books you can get your hands on honing in on your personal style; but most of all never, never, stop learning.
What are you doing when your not cooking?
Working/playing in my garden, its my Zen space, that or reading a good book.
What are your guilty pleasures?
I don’t drink soda/pop, however I just can’t resist a real cane sugar bottle of coca cola.
What 5 tools should every new cook have in the kitchen?
Chef’s knife, Joyce Chen Scissors, a Sharpie (black), Bench Scraper, pocket note pad.
List/describe three of your favorite tips or techniques you use in the kitchen?
1. A clean station is a clean mind, clean as you go; always.
2. Make 2 lists when gathering items for prep. Ingredients and tools.
3. Sense of urgency, you must have it at all times.