Chef at The Chopping Block since: 2016
Favorite class to teach: Knife Skills or Sauce Boot Camp.
Training/education: Bachelors of Science from the University of Oregon, Associates in Culinary Arts from Kendall College.
Cooking since:I was 14 years old. Professionally since 2008.
Favorite childhood food experience: The first time I caught, cleaned, and cooked a fish. I was camping with my family in eastern Oregon, and we caught several rainbow trout. My uncle showed me how to clean them properly. We dredged them in a dry falafel mix and fried them in a cast iron over the fire. It was one of first times I remember really liking fish.
What made you want to become a chef? I’ve always loved to cook. It would be hard to pin it to any one thing, but when I finished college I wasn’t very enthusiastic about what I was doing. I had the choice to continue in that direction and go to grad school or change directions all together. I decided to move toward something I’ve always enjoyed and have been doing that ever since!
What is your signature dish? I wouldn’t say I have a signature dish, but there is a dish called Cacio e Pepe that I have been making and tinkering with since I was a kid; long before I knew there was a name for it. It’s as simple as it gets.
What are the 5 ingredients you can't live without? Olive oil, wine, fresh chilies, Pecorino Romano, lemons.
What do you love about cooking? That it can be both social and/or introspective. I can get the same satisfaction cooking a simple meal for myself or throwing a party for friends and family.
When you're creating a new recipe, what influences and inspires you? I usually look to my favorite cookbooks and old notebooks from past restaurants. I have a lot of cookbooks that I look at, but one thing most of them have in common is a focus on technique or ingredients rather than recipes. Also, going to grocery stores, farmer’s markets, or joining a CSA is a great way to get inspired.
What advice would you give a new cook? Focus on the process, not the result. Always consider what the best and worst case scenarios are for your meal. Usually they are not far enough apart to feel bad about what you may perceive as a failure.
What are you doing when you're not cooking? Hanging with my wife, woodworking, gardening, reading, and traveling!
Describe your perfect evening. Wife, beach, seafood, fire and beer.
If you had friends in from out of town, where would you take them to eat? I’ve not really had a bad experience at the Publican. For brunch, I recommend North Pond. Also, Vera, the Betty, and if it’s a special occasion, Blackbird.
Where are you from? Evanston, Illinois.
What was your favorite vacation? My wife and I got to go to Singapore and Bali a few years ago. We spent the first part of the trip eating our way through Singapore and the second part relaxing in Bali. It’ll be hard to top that one.
What are your hobbies? Reading, gardening, woodworking, and of course, cooking!
What is your favorite band? Not sure this question is possible to answer.
What is your favorite sports team? Everything Oregon Ducks!
If you could have dinner with one person, who would it be? Sean Brock. He seems like he’s always having a good time.
What are your guilty pleasures? That freeze-dried astronaut ice cream you get in museum gift shops is the best. Also, there is always bag of chocolate chips always in my freezer.
Who is your favorite celebrity chef? Marco Pierre White
What 5 tools should every new cook have in the kitchen?
What resources would you suggest for Chopping Block clients? America’s Test Kitchen never lets me down.
List three of your favorite tips or techniques you use in the kitchen.
My favorite piece of cooking equipment we carry at The Chopping Block is The Big Green Egg. This one piece of equipment can grill, smoke, even function as an oven and do them all well. It's fun to use and nice to not have to buy several different pieces of equipment to use in your yard.