Favorite class to teach: So far, Spanish Tapas
Training/education: Associates in Occupational Studies of the Culinary Arts Le Cordon Bleu Portland, Oregon. 10 years as a chef in independent chef-owned fine dining restaurants including Ox, Portland OR. and Parachute & Wherewithal Chicago, IL. Currently pursuing a Business Degree at the University of Illinois Chicago in my spare time.
Cooking since: 2000, my first job was as a short order cook when I was 14.
Favorite childhood food experience: Making sausage scrambled eggs off a butane cooktop with my father and buddies in a duck blind at age 12.
What made you want to become a chef? I never wanted to sit down in my profession, I never have, and I still don’t want to.
What is your signature dish? At home, lentil curry with brown butter fried walleye. At work, healthy and inventive vegetable sides, seasonal of course.
What are the 5 ingredients you can't live without? Curry powder, all of them really. Legumes, ginger, microbes for fermentation, and eggs, of course.
What do you love about cooking? I can never truly complete my training, there is always a new cuisine or approach. It satisfies my desire to constantly study a new thing, and then eat it.
When you're creating a new recipe, what influences and inspires you? History, I always ask what is the former context of this food? (Where did it come from>) And then I get to decide, where I want to take it.
What advice would you give a new cook? Constantly seek challenging projects and environments, be fearless of your ignorance, and be able to pick yourself up after a failure. Basically, bite off more you can chew, and chew through the pain. Also, stop being a perfectionist, it is unattainable and debilitating.
What are you doing when you're not cooking? Working on my cooking show, on YouTube “The Irrelevant Food Guide to Cooking”
Describe your perfect evening. Finishing my to-do list, then celebrate by drinking and telling stories with friends.
If you had friends in from out of town, where would you take them to eat? Either a spectacular sandwich spot or an interesting location with a cool picnic we brought. Chicago has a lot to choose from, like the lakefront, for instance.
Where are you from? Kalamazoo, Michigan…. basically.
What was your favorite vacation? If I could be a guest at someone’s lake house, I’m down for that.
What are your hobbies? Writing, filmmaking, city-wandering, socializing
What is your favorite band? Porches
What is your favorite sports team? Can I say I’d rather go to the symphony?
If you could have dinner with one person, who would it be? Neil deGrasse Tyson, I hear he’s a foodie.
What are your guilty pleasures? Caffeine, and Mayonnaise, not usually in the same glass.
Who is your favorite celebrity chef? Marco Pierre White
What 5 tools should every new cook have in the kitchen?
Stainless steel pot
What resources would you suggest for Chopping Block clients? The public library!
List three of your favorite tips or techniques you use in the kitchen.
Organization/cleanliness helps your mind work better; you can achieve flow and productivity.
Mechanize your tasks, perform one step completely, and then proceed to the next. Like when cutting potatoes, wash all of them, then peel all of them, then cut all of them. This is how automobiles are made, and this is how you should cook most of the time, so you don’t dilly-dally and waste precious time.
Learn how to read a recipe and execute it with accuracy. Consistency leads to improvement.