Knee High to Grandma at Her Stovetop…
How it all began…
At the age of five, in Pennsylvania, I cooked alongside my grandma on a little step stool while my mother worked at the restaurant. I remember I couldn’t even reach the stove to see what was boiling away, but the flickering flame of the stovetop caught my attention like it had a story to tell.
At that age, I knew nothing about chefs, farm-to-table food and could barely crack an egg. I just knew I was lucky to have my grandmothers tell their stories through food, and a mother who cooked in a fancy restaurant. My mother cooked for people day in and day out with a ton of pride and a smile on her face, and this instilled a passion in me to cook for others.
This was my childhood, surrounded by great cooks, great family, great friends and great meals. Life was simple. I was a happily fed kid.
Growing into a chef…
Over years of cooking for my family, I read cookbooks like they were culinary adventure novels. These books, along with a passion for cooking with my family, led to my first cooking job at age 14, working alongside my mother at the restaurant she ran. Shortly after that, I began working for Charlie Gipe, a CIA alumni in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
I happily preferred cooking to my day-to-day schooling. In my senior year of high school, I enrolled in the local culinary arts program at Lebanon CTC. I felt most at home in the kitchen, getting nerdy with all the “kitchen lingo” and, most importantly, being inspired by my mentors at the time, Chef Corle and Chef Peffley. My thirst to continue learning continued after my high school culinary program ended. So, I made my way to The Culinary Institute of America, with the support of Chef Gipe. In 2010, I graduated with a bachelor’s degree and was ready to dive into my career.
Now it was time to make it in the big leagues…
I worked with some great restaurants and mentors from New York City to the Hudson Valley over the years. I was fortunate to work for Tom Colicchio at Colicchio & Sons, Chefs Club by Food & Wine and Gunter Seeger at his farm-to-table Michelin Star restaurant in NYC. I learned to balance the NYC chef life with many Hudson Valley restaurants. Global Palate, The Roundhouse and Valley Restaurant are a few of the places that nurtured my passion for farm-to-table cuisine.
My mentors, Jessica Winchell and Brandon Collins, taught me how to cook with the seasons, respecting the incredible bounty of fresh ingredients in the Hudson Valley and taking advantage of them at their peak. Previously, I led my own team at Hearth Restaurant, a hyper local market-driven restaurant for General Electrics. But one of the most recent highlights of my career has been a
stage at Noma in Copenhagen, considered by many as one of the top restaurants in the world.
I invite you to cook along with me as I explore my passion for cooking the farmers market bounty and bring it to your table.
I hope to share everything I’ve learned as a kid standing on a step stool at my grandmother’s knee to hustling and bustling in professional kitchens so you can share it with your friends and family around the dinner table.