I have always loved to play with fire and knives. This way I get paid for it.
How did you start cooking?
My first real job was washing dishes at Razzberries in West St. Paul, MN. I was 15 years old and it seemed like a good way to make some money so I could buy tapes at Musicland. Little did I know I would fall in love with the camaraderie, craft and chaos of working in professional kitchens. It wasn’t long before I moved on to working in hotels and then shipped off to culinary school at Johnson & Wales University.
What is your favorite kind of food?
I never know how to answer this question. For me cooking has always been more about the process than the final product, and most of the processes are pretty universal. Whether you’re making foods from Latin America, France or Asia grilling is grilling and braising is braising. That said, I love the big flavors of the Caribbean, Latin America and South East Asia.
What trends are you following?
I see a lot of people going back to simpler foods. The high-intensity big presentation meals seem to be a thing of the past. I think the whole-foods trend is here to stay. People are finally beginning to appreciate the flavors and textures of minimally processed foods. Authenticity is also growing. I think we’ll begin to see more and more foods from a specific region or area.
What was the best meal you ever ate?
I had a plate of spaghetti and truffles at L’atelier Joel Rubuchon in Paris. It was so simple; olive oil, spaghetti, buffalo mozzarella and a ton of shaved black truffles on top. I was really happy to eat it and equally happy to hand the bill to someone else.
What are you most proud of as a chef?
That I have never owned or used a pair of plating tweezers.