Wilmington, Delaware, United States
It may sound like a cliché, but it's not work if you love what you do. My job is about giving pleasure and nurturing people through food. It’s a very satisfying career.
I am an executive chef at a private dining club that is more than 150 years old in Wilmington, Delaware. We cater to an elite group of members who are passionate about food, wine and travel. I’ve also owned my own restaurant and worked in almost every aspect of food service.
I'm most proud of opening my own restaurant some years ago. Pulling together the look, feel, atmosphere, food, wine, price-points and service allowed me to use every creative outlet I’d ever dreamed of in my career.
In addition to cooking, I am competent as an administrator in profit and loss, budgeting, costing, cost analysis, menu planning, writing press releases, negotiating contracts, pricing, event planning, service and, most prominently, food and wine pairing. I enjoy sharing any and all of that knowledge with my PivotPlanet clients.
I have 20 employees who work directly for me. We serve private dinners, banquets, event dining and private parties.
I have always been in this field, but not always cooked. I have worked in every position in the restaurant business: waiter, bartender, busboy, sommelier, manager, food and beverage manager, sous chef, pastry chef, line cook, catering chef, executive chef and owner.
I started my career as a “front of the house” person where I gained immeasurable knowledge about running a restaurant. When I left my career as a food and beverage manager in 1997 to get my degree in Culinary Arts, I did so knowing it was one of the final pieces necessary for me to fully understand what it meant to open a restaurant and be successful. In short, switching to the cooking aspect of my career completed a circle for me, and just like a circle, I feel complete in every way.
Most importantly, I have learned about the unique nature of workers in the hospitality industry. They come from all backgrounds, nationalities and religions, but they all share a common thread: remarkable commitment to hard work and service. I have learned that people are your greatest resource. Nurture them, teach them, give them room to flourish and grow and you will always be successful.
I’ve had some great opportunities in my life. I have had the very unique and distinguished honor of preparing a meal at the James Beard Foundation. I worked one week as a guest chef at Charlie Trotters in Chicago. I’ve cooked at the Aspen Food and Wine Classic and was a finalist in the National Urbani Truffle Competition in New York in 1999. My own restaurant earned top honors in Zagat guidebook. I also volunteer every year for Meals on Wheels Delaware and the First Mid-Atlantic Food and Wine Feast - an event of celebrity chefs and winemakers.
If you want to learn to cook, you can do it many ways: Go to school, work for a food establishment or total immersion. But, you must accept one thing, as a chef/cook, you are a lifelong student. Your passion and creativity can lead you to your own catering business, doing cooking demonstrations, cooking at a restaurant, or even planning parties for people. Whatever your interest in cooking and food is, you can make it happen with your devotion.
I recently started writing about food topics on my blog and for local publications. This is a fun way to share my passion with even more people. I absolutely thrive to learn more each and every day in my field. As a classically-trained artist and musician, cooking is a perfect extension of my creativity.