Present Employment: Executive Chef of Special Events & Catering Operations at The Walt Disney World Resort®
Previous Employment: Grew up in my family’s restaurants in Northeast OH.
• Named one of BizBashs’ 66 Most Innovative Event Pros in 2012
• Named one of Connect Meetings Intelligence 40 Under 40: Class of 2012
• Graduate of the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute
• Level I – Introductory Sommeliers Exam (Court of Master Sommeliers)
• Growing up in this business I had a lot of support around me with my two uncles being chefs in our families’ restaurants, they took me under their wings. The other six individuals that really got me off on the right start were my parents and four grandparents.
How did these mentors impact your career?
• All of them took a genuine interest in my career as it started to blossom into what I really wanted to do with my life. Not only did they give me the love and support I needed but also the encouragement to go do whatever it was wherever I wanted to do it.
Favorite dishes to prepare:
• My biggest inspiration right now is my wife and kids, with Madeleine being 7 and Mason 3 we have learned how important it is to teach them about the earth and the environment. With this has come gardening, fishing and cooking the fruits of our labor. There is not a better feeling than playing with food than with my two most loved sous chefs.
Favorite foods to eat?
• My wife’s family are cattle ranchers in KS and it is so much fun preparing and eating a whole meal right from their farm. From the T-Bones right off of the wood burning grill to the produce right out of the garden. It does not get any fresher or more local than that.
Ingredients you could not live without?
• Water, Wine, Tea, Pasta, Great Beef and Mushrooms
What gives you pleasure on the job every day?
• There are a few that really stand out to me:
• One is developing those around me that want to be not only chefs but great chefs. Growing up in a professional kitchen the tensions were always high. I told myself when I left that I would always be the style of chef that would take the time to explain what I was doing and why. A great reward in our business is watching those around us blossom into great culinarians and go on to do great things with their careers.
• Another one is when one of your guests tells you that your food is the best they have ever experienced, this is such a great feeling. Having those enjoy what you have prepared them is a true joy when it is something you love to do.
What was your worst disaster in the kitchen?
• I don’t really look at anything as a disaster, just opportunities or learning experiences. But if there was one lesson I learned from the hardest was not to burn soups and sauces. For you see in our families restaurants we made everything from scratch and there were times I would scorch the sauce or soup and I would get in so much trouble for doing it. What I learned from this was that the two most important ingredients in cooking were patience and time.
How did you turn it around?
• After I received the gift of feedback on numerous occasions and scrubbed the walk in cooler with a tooth brush a few times I learned not to burn sauces any longer.
What advice do you have for new Culinarians?
• Stay true to who you are and focus on the planet in your journey we call life. We only have one mother earth and it is up to us to take care of her, try to keep it as local as you can, focus on sustainability and recycle. Have the center of the plate speak for itself, keep it simple and focus on the flavors. Be a mentor to those that seek you out, you owe it to them, but more importantly you owe it to yourself as someone took the time to mentor you, pay it forward. Live by the Culinarians Code. Always remember were not launching rockets or operating on anybody, but every time someone chooses to dine with us they are putting their lives in our hands, take that very serious, but at the same time do not forget to have fun. And always be an ambassador for keeping the spirit of great food & beverage alive.