Chef at The Chopping Block since: 2014
Favorite class to teach: How to Bake Bread
Training/education: I attended school at The Art Institute of Southern California. I worked my way through restaurants and catering companies in California before turning to teaching. I took a break from teaching to be the Executive Chef in a hospital, but I missed teaching and came back.
Cooking since: Professionally since 2007
Favorite childhood food experience: Watching my grandfather and great-aunt pickle and can from their garden.
What made you want to become a chef? Cooking was a relaxing hobby of mine. I enjoyed feeding others and making them happy with food. When I ran into someone who was attending culinary school, one thing led to another and I decided to change my career.
What is your signature dish? Porcini-Crusted Beef with Chocolate Port Sauce
What are the 5 ingredients you can't live without? Bacon, fresh thyme, kosher salt, freshly toasted and ground cumin, butter
What do you love about cooking? My favorite part about cooking is creating something that will make others happy. Food is a universal language that speaks to everyone.
When you're creating a new recipe, what influences and inspires you? I like blurring the lines a bit between sweet and savory recipes (i.e. putting savory ingredients in desserts, and sweet components in savory dishes). I like taking flavors people know and putting them together in a slightly different way.
What advice would you give a new cook? Keep your head down and your ears open. You never know where you will learn something new. Not everything will always work out just right, either. So just keep your head down and keep going. It will work out in the end.
What are you doing when you're not cooking? Exploring restaurants, traveling and being avoided by my two cats.
Describe your perfect evening. A restaurant dinner that is well executed and well-paired with wine.
If you had friends in from out of town, where would you take them to eat? Purple Pig, or any of the One-Off Hospitality restaurants.
Where are you from? Originally from the Midwest, I have also lived in Southern California, Chicago, Tennessee and Austin, Texas.
What was your favorite vacation? I spent 10 days traveling around France in 2014. I ate all of the local specialties in each region, visited food markets and ate at some amazing restaurants.
What are your hobbies? Knitting, Curing Meat, Pickling/Preserving, Reading
What is your favorite band? Aerosmith or Rolling Stones for the classics. Alabama Shakes or April Smith recently.
What is your favorite sports team? Kansas Jayhawks (college)
If you could have dinner with one person, who would it be? Grant Achatz
What are your guilty pleasures? Cherry Coke, potato chips, stinky cheese and of course, bacon.
Who is your favorite celebrity chef? José Andres
What 5 tools should every new cook have in the kitchen?
What resources would you suggest for Chopping Block students? Northwest Cutlery for knife sharpening, and Epicurious for recipes.
List your favorite tips or techniques you use in the kitchen.
Nielsen-Massey's Pure Vanilla Bean Paste is my favorite product we have at The Chopping Block.
Someone took all the joy of the vanilla bean (the punch of flavor and the flecks) and put it into a gel, which takes away the hassle of scraping vanilla beans. Now I no longer have to scrape or deal with dried, shriveled beans, and I can get the same result in my baked goods!