My first job in a kitchen was at a hometown breakfast lunch restaurant called Peach's. I had been working there since I was 15-years old. All front of the house stuff, but I always found myself hiding in the back with the cooks. So one day I jumped on dishes and then another I jumped on prep and before I knew it I had a kitchen shift! So stoked!
I don't think I’ve mastered any dish. That's a heavy word to use for a chef. The first dish I ever got really excited about was a chicken consomme. It is such an amazing soup to make. You have to give it time, care, and attention. When I made this for the 700th time, the art of being a saucier clicked for me. It is truly magical to put all of these crazy ingredients into a pot and have a gorgeous crystal clear soup being poured into a bowl. Holy goose bumps!
Anytime I create something new in the kitchen, I consider it to be on my list of signature dishes. None of them are perfect, but they all seem to represent me. I put love and care into everything I make, so it becomes a part of me. The dish that people ask for the most is simply a char-grilled grouper topped with a mango/pineapple salsa. It’s a burst of sweet, tart, spicy and refreshing flavors dancing on your palate.
My first triumph was becoming a sous chef at 23-years old at a prestigious restaurant, Euphemia Haye Restaurant. I have learned a great deal working under such a humble and passionate chef and wonderful owners. Thanks to Chef Mark for teaching me along the way, you inspire me. Another biggie for me was competing at the national level two years in a row! I was very proud to represent the state of Florida and the school that gave me the tools to succeed, where I now also have the pleasure of teaching, Manatee Technical Institute! Thank you to Chef Garry for passing your love for food on to me. It was an amazing experience, learned a lot about myself and cooking. As for kitchen disasters, just take a look at my forearms. Burns, baby, burns!
My mother. She cooked dinner from scratch every night, working with fresh local ingredients, and she always made sure my little brother and I were involved. I was never that interested in the cooking as much as I was watching her do the coolest things with food. She'd cut things up and mix stuff in bowls and POOF, we had dinner on the table. Now looking back, I don't think she was doing anything out of the ordinary, just being a great cook and mommy, but I always thought she was a superhero of sorts. Thanks!