My first industry job was at all you can eat restaurant in Baltimore, MD. I was about 15-years old at that time. I began as a hot line attendant, checking temps, restocking, etc. After about two weeks or so, I began cooking in the back of house. I started in the bakery department making fresh rolls, icing cakes, and cleaning ice cream machines. Then I transistioned into the pantry department. After that, you couldn't tell me I wasn't a cook because I was all over the place on the line, on the grill, everywhere but the dish pit.
I truly cannot remember the first dish that I mastered because I have been doing this for so long. I have mastered so many different types of dishes and revised so many dishes that, at one time or another, I thought couldn't get any better. I'm a chef, and no chef is ever satisfied with one dish because there is always a way to make it ten times better. This industry is always changing; you either got to keep up or get out. But baby, I have worked to hard to get out, so I am always reworking a dish to stay on top.
None that I can think of.
My grandfather. I remember being a little kid and watching him create dishes that people could only dream of. People constantly coming through the door on Sunday afternoons and holidays asking what's for dinner. Or neighbors coming over to see what that heavenly smell creeping through the windows smell was. I used to sit at the kitchen table for hours watching him create meal after meal. And talking to him one day, asking him how did he know how to cook so well, I remember him telling me that he was an Executive Chef. I didn't know what that was, but I did know that's what I wanted to be.