I attended Newbury College in Boston, MA. The curriculum was grueling, classes began at 7AM and ended at 6:30PM. My professors were “old school” French Culinary Masters. They were very strict, you might say mean, but they toughened me up and prepared me for the life of a Chef. I had a great deal of respect for all of my teachers, especially my Soup, Stocks, and Sauces Professor. He really knew his stuff, and wanted nothing but perfection in the Kitchen. He wasn’t well liked, but he left a lasting impression on me. I still use some of his favorite expressions in my Kitchen. None are appropriate for print!
I spent my childhood in Torrence, CA and Huntington Beach, CA. I moved to Middlebury, VT the summer before my freshman year of high school. It was a shock at the time, but I quickly grew to really like Vermont. Middlebury is also where I met my first mentor Kay Rentschler, Chef Owner of the Storm Café. She started me on the path to where I am today. Kay taught me to love food and respect the process and the business.
I have been cooking since..
After culinary school I returned to Vermont and the restaurant where I completed my internship for Culinary School, The Basin Harbor Club. After a few years of experience in various kitchens, a local investor asked me to help her open a new restaurant in Ferrisburgh, VT, The Starry Night Café. From there I decided to return to my home state of California to accept a Sous Chef position at Bisro Liason in Berkley, CA. Berkley, at the time was known as the “gourmet ghetto”. It was the beginning of the farm to table movement in the restaurant world, and my first exposure to that type of cooking. Following Bistro Liason, I accepted a position at La Folie in San Francisco, CA as Chef de Cuisine. This was my first real five star restaurant experience, and I completely loved it. In the kitchen, we used classic French techniques, but I was able to be creative and experiment with things I had never done before. After years in San Francisco, I was ready for a change and an offer came in from Vermont of all places. The offer was to come work with the team at Leunigs Bistro, and the rest is history. As for my passion, I would say I just love the process of taking raw ingredients and creating something really special with them, feeding people something delicious, and giving them a real experience with my food.
Favorite dish to prepare
I think this is the question most frequently asked of any Chef. It’s surprising then, that I don’t have a great answer already for this one! I think it’s all about inspiration, what’s in season, what kind of day it is, who I’m cooking for and why I’m cooking for them, even sometimes just what I feel like making. I enjoying cooking everything from a complex 10 course meal to grilled cheeses for my two young daughters.
Again, I think it’s all about inspiration. I get inspiration from everywhere, and I like being able to communicate the feeling of my original inspiration through my dishes. Dining should be an experience, and as with any form of art, it should make you feel something.