I have been called Chef, Sous, Cook, Kitchen Bitch, Student, Teacher, Butcher, Writer, Eater and Father. It has been a trying journey at times and still I would never rethink a single step taken to lead me to this happines…
I officially started my culinary career on February 8th of 2007, the day I showed up to my first culinary class. Inspired and enthusiastic, a chubby little boy living in North Carolina had enrolled himself into cooking school in St.Paul/Minneapolis.
A 2 year Culinary program was merely a glimpse into a world that had been created by traditionalists, unorthodox artists, perfectionists, psychotic romantics, and everyone in between. Once out into the real world, I found that the more I opened my eyes, the less I knew. Off a whim and a severely co-dependent brother, I landed an internship at the Mobil Five Star/AAA Five Diamond Resort in North Carolina. My first night on the line was a wash; the Chef removed me and put me on pastry… I wasn’t ready for a kitchen of that caliber. It was in this time that I learned what it meant to push yourself when faced with challenge. Instead of allowing my ego to step in, I dug deep to prove that I belonged to the savory side of the kitchen. I had no training in pastry; but that was irrelevant. Learning the sweeter more delicate side of this industry in such an elegant kitchen gave me a foundation. From there I would push myself to become noticed by the chef. I made it back to the savory line eventually; though it was short lived. Life happened a bit too fast and brought my time in North Carolina to a close.
I then went on to get lost somewhere deep in the Wisconsin North Woods. I worked as a “Sous chef” in the sticks for about a year and a half. On my off day (when the occasion allowed for an off day to pop up) I would day trip to Chicago or the Twin Cities for culture, life, noise, anything to help me feel as if I wasn’t loosing myself in the isolation of the midwest. I always brought back a smile, new inspirations and desire to grow.
As time continued; I grew reckless, discontent and hungry. After much deliberation, I returned to North Carolina with hopes of getting into the most exciting restaurant I could find. I found the Natural/Chic Five Star/Five Diamond Umstead Hotel & Spa just outside of Raleigh. the Hotel housed a restaurant that had everything I was looking for. Under the direction of Scott Crawford and his team of Chefs, Herons was quickly gaining recognition. After so much time isolated from “good food” or rather what I considered to be the world I needed to prove to myself that my time spent in the sticks had not disrupted my path, I needed to know that I could still be a productive line cook, I needed to know that I could still cook good food. It was in this time I learned Discipline, Accountability, Expectation, Efficiency, Drive, and many more lessons on what it meant to cook real food, great.
While cooking for Scott Crawford (not in the above photo) and his all star cast, I was somehow able to find time to write and publish my First Book, Kitchen Bitch; I was also attempting to stage through the south east, most notably a stint in Patrick O’Connell’s Iconic Inn at Little Washington.
Again, After some time life had an unexpected twist. I found back to the North Woods; somehow changed. I began defining and discovering my own philosophies of cooking. I started Livegreatfood.com as a journal of my culinary exploits. I wanted to learn and explore everything food & drink. I wanted place to to relay the information and data I collected in food things as I came to understand it. I began cooking, writing and working as I saw fit. I was in my first Executive roll, and the menus were mine… well kinda. The only constant in my culinary escapades was the local simplicity. I would eagerly find a source for bison, and somewhere from “above” the dish got the ax due to a variety of reasons from cost, familiarity, perception of value… Etc. So, It was my food so long I stayed within an undocumented, uncommunicated set of guidelines that were in flux constantly.
Struggling to understand the madness in Cooking, Cleaning, Reading, Writing, Feeding, Eating, Teaching, Learning, Business, Pleasure… I begin to get lost somewhere inside myself only finding a constant unexplainable yearning for something great of my own; saudade.
I stepped out of the professional kitchen in 2012. Lost, I turned to carnage; I wanted to mastering Butchery. It was been an obsession since day 1, I needed to understand the full circle. With the new hours wildly differing between a butcher shop and a kitchen I found time for me. I found time to cook the food I want to eat. I found time to educate myself. I found time to start my own business. I found time to love. Cooking has become something that defines who I am and what I want to do with my life. Deciding to cook, and striving to cook great, is a decision that consumes your life. As I continuously embark upon the cusp of my next endeavor; I push forward, always with food in mind.
I have found a solace in exploring the world of cookery and defining my own philosophy and path which merely urges people to Live Great Food. I hope you find answers & satisfaction in your visit.