Chef at The Chopping Block since: 2008
Favorite class to teach: Anything offering Indian/Middle Eastern Cuisine – I love working with all the spices!
Training/education: I graduated from Kendall College in Chicago.
Cooking since: Professionally since 2002.
Favorite childhood food experience: The first time I ever had fresh ground black pepper on salad. I still remember the amazing flavor compared to anything I had ever tasted before.
What made you want to become a chef? I've always loved baking and cooking. When I worked in the corporate world for a couple of years after graduating college, I realized it was nearly impossible for me to sit behind a desk all day. I began baking part time, which inspired me to go to culinary school.
What is your signature dish? My favorite thing to make is a big bowl of fresh made guacamole and homemade tortilla chips!
What are the 5 ingredients you can't live without? Butter, eggs, bacon, cheese, and green olives (for my Bloody Mary’s, since I seem to have a breakfast theme happening!)
What do you love about cooking? Starting with a few simple ingredients and seeing the outcome.
When you're creating a new recipe, what influences and inspires you? Whatever fresh ingredients I find at my local farmer's market.
What advice would you give a new cook? Season, taste and practice! Don't get discouraged. Some of the best dishes happen by mistake.
What are you doing when you're not cooking? Going to concerts and hanging out with friends. I play seasonal sports through CMSA – Summer softball, Fall flag football, Winter – Spring bowling and darts. Fun!
Describe your perfect evening. Grillin' and chillin' with friends!
If you had friends in from out of town, where would you take them to eat? Any of my local neighborhood places. I love low-key "Mom and Pop" restaurants.
Where are you from? Alabama
What was your favorite vacation? The beach! Sun, fun and fresh seafood!
What are your hobbies? Listening to music and attempting to dance like nobody’s watching.
What is your favorite band? Natalia Zukerman is my favorite artist, although, I enjoy all music. I have everything from classical to rap on my iPod with a little country and pop mixed in.
What is your favorite sports team? University of Alabama. ROLL TIDE!
If you could have dinner with one person, who would it be? My grandparents who are no longer with me.
What are your guilty pleasures? Double Stuff Oreos (with a big glass of ice cold milk, of course!) and Totino’s $1.50 combination pizza.
Who is your favorite celebrity chef? Of all time - Julia Child. Present day - Alex Guarnaschelli
What 5 tools should every new cook have in the kitchen?
What resources would you suggest for Chopping Block clients? Two of my favorite books are Culinary Artistry by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page, and Herbs and Spices: The Cooks Reference by Jill Norman.
List three of your favorite tips or techniques you use in the kitchen.
My favorite ingredient that we carry at The Chopping Block is our Pomodoraccio Tomatoes. These are semi-sun-dried tomatoes marinated in a mixture of sunflower oil, wine vinegar, herbs, spices and seasoning.
They are great on pizzas, in salads, or transformed into a pesto. They are so versatile! I also use the excess oil when I make hummus or salad dressings, so that nothing is wasted.