Certification: CCC, CCE, CHEP, CS
Present Employment: Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts
Previous Employment: Printers Row and Rushmore – both in Chicago, IL
2016 ACF South East Region Chef Educator of the Year Winner
2015 ACFCFC Chapter Partnership Award (with Peter Vossenberg)
American Intercontinental University, M.Ed. Educational Leadership
Illinois State University, BS Financial Accounting & Business Administration
Illinois Institute of Art at Chicago, AAS in Culinary Arts
Mentor Chefs: Charlie Trotter, Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Josephine & Seamus Broderick
How did these Chefs impact your career?
Charlie Trotter was the guest speaker at the first ACF meeting I ever attended at a time when his namesake restaurant was consistently ranked #1 in the world. By the end of the evening, I had a personal invitation from him to do a stagiaire in his kitchen which was an immeasurable opportunity. The days I spent there taught me that the pursuit of perfection is unending.
Jean-Georges Vongerichten is a master at blending ingredients and cultures. I often teach culinary students that diversity is much more than gender and color; that true diversity is about celebrating the uniqueness of each person and their personal history. To me, Vong’s food is the edible manifestation of that concept on a plate.
Josephine & Seamus Broderick are my Aunt and Uncle. They were the proprietors of Broderick’s Bed and Breakfast in Knock, Co. Mayo, Ireland. My earliest memories of childhood begin with assisting cooking a traditional Irish breakfast for their guests: Irish sausages, black and white pudding, rashers, oil-poached eggs, baked beans and griddled tomatoes with warm brown soda bread toasted over a peat fire and housemade butter. The aromas are forever imprinted on my brain and are quite simply intoxicating.
What are your favorite dishes to prepare? Anything braised. Watching the transformation of tough, sinewy meat into tender bits in a velvety sauce is nothing short of miraculous.
What are your favorite foods to eat? Thanksgiving Dinner, my Death Row Meal. If I get to choose what My Last Supper will be, Thanksgiving will be my choice. It reminds me of the days away at college living on nearly inedible dorm food, fantasizing about coming home for the holiday and making that meal with my Mom.
What is your favorite cookbook? Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry. It’s less about the food than the stories. “Rabbits” gets me choked up every time I read it, and I constantly remind myself to respect the food.
Ingredients you could not live without? Avocado, lime, salt – if you cut me I might bleed guacamole.
What gives you pleasure on the job every day? Teaching people about eating and drinking, and doing it with my husband by my side – it seriously can’t get any better than this!
What was your worst disaster in the kitchen? Working in a building from 1860 and having the original plaster ceiling and exterior coal delivery chute in the basement prep kitchen suddenly crumble down onto the sushi-grade tuna loin I had just set on my cutting board.
How did you turn it around? Serving Tuna Carbonara was not going to work, so it was time for a thorough rinse from the tap with Lake Michigan’s finest water, and the sharpest knife in my tool bag to trim away the thinnest possible exterior layer to minimize the amount going into the bin.
What advice do you have for new Culinarians? Be so great they can’t ignore you. Go to the people and places that spark your soul. Do what excites you, what drives you, what brings you sheer joy and years from now you will look back and thank yourself that you didn’t take the easy way out.