Favorite class to teach: Knife Skills or Artisanal Breads Boot Camp
Training/education: I graduated from the French Pastry School in 2008 and then worked in Chicago, NYC, Denver, and the Bay area in California.
Cooking since: 18
Favorite childhood food experience: Being in the kitchen with my Grandma making apple pie
What made you want to become a chef? Having worked in kitchens since a young age, it seemed a natural fit to explore a career in food.
What is your signature dish? I got into pit-style BBQ a few years ago, and love BBQing a brisket for a Sunday dinner.
What are the 5 ingredients you can't live without? Salt, butter, eggs, flour, spices
What do you love about cooking? I love that you can take the same ingredients and construct them in a way to get the variety of dishes we see from people all over the world.
When you're creating a new recipe, what influences and inspires you? Finding fresh vegetables at a farmer’s market or foraging for mushrooms get my creativity flowing to come up with something I may not have tried before.
What advice would you give a new cook? Focus on tasting and learning from others
What are you doing when you're not cooking? Spending time with family and friends which means I usually end up cooking or preparing something to eat anyway.
Describe your perfect evening. Good people and good food!
If you had friends in from out of town, where would you take them to eat? Taqueria los Barrilitos on 25th near Pilsen or Cho Sun Ok in Pilsen. I tend to go to more everyday spots than something like Alinea.
Where are you from? Originally Indiana, but I've spent the majority of my life in Chicago.
What was your favorite vacation? Hawaii with my kids
What are your hobbies? Jiu jitsu, gardening
What is your favorite band? Phish, Led Zeppelin, De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest
What is your favorite sports team? Chicago Cubs/Bears
If you could have dinner with one person, who would it be? My grandpa
What are your guilty pleasures? Cookies!
Who is your favorite celebrity chef? Anthony Bourdain - he had confidence with humility.
What 5 tools should every new cook have in the kitchen?
A couple of sharp knives
Salt cellar or bowl to hold coarse or Kosher salt
*Also, our senses: touch, sight, feel and taste are really our best tools in the kitchen.
What resources would you suggest for students at The Chopping Block? The internet is really the resource for everything, I would look through some cookbooks to find one that resonates and work on replicating a few of the recipes very well, that will give a base for being confident in being able to accomplish any recipe after that.
List three of your favorite tips or techniques you use in the kitchen.
Learning to season by the feel of a pinch of salt
The power of patience
How the proper use of caramelization can make all the difference, whether on a piece of protein or a baked good
Le Creuset Braiser, which is great for braises, sauces, and keeping things warm for serving.