Tell us about your cooking background. I began cooking when I was in high school and in my senior year I did a work-study program and was able to spend half of my day actually working in the kitchen. I worked under 2 Italian chefs and really learned a lot about working in restaurants. I decided to go to culinary school up in Baltimore, but I felt that I wasn't getting enough out of it so I quit and went back to restaurant kitchens and that's where I learned everything I know: how to make sauces, use different ingredients and run a kitchen.
Favorite ingredient? Fresh, ripe tomatoes
How would you describe DC Cuisine? I've lived up and down the east coast my whole life including just outside of the city in Maryland, but I'm not really sure how I'd describe DC cuisine.
What are your most exciting challenges right now? My most exciting challenge right now is just ensuring that Vapiano in Chinatown is successful. It's great being part of such a growing concept like this.
How long have you lived in DC and how did you end up here? I've lived here only for 2 months now. I came down to DC because I've worked with some of Vapiano's leaders in the past, including CEO Bill Bessette, and they're great to work with. When they asked me to be a part of this, I jumped at the chance!
Who are your culinary inspirations? I would have to say Paul Prudhomme, Rick Bayless and my Grandmother.
What is the most enjoyable aspect of your job? The most enjoyable aspect of my job is the people that I work with. I really enjoy building that relationship with my staff...and I want to create a workplace that people WANT to work in rather than HAVING to work at.
What is your favorite local restaurant and why? I really love Thai and Asian restaurants and my favorite is actually up in Columbia, Maryland...it's a little place called An Loy and it has great pho and bubble tea.
What is your favorite Food Network Show? The original Iron Chef.
How do you de-stress after a long day of working? I like to unwind with a beer with some of my friends.
Do you have a favorite cookbook? I have a signed copy of Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Cooking.
Describe your culinary personality. I think I'd have to describe it as fast-paced and exciting. I like to cook in front of people and have that pressure on me.