Where were you born and raised?
I was born and raised in San Diego, CA. I love that it's a large city but with a small town feel. Everyone is connected and people really like to support local. However, since it's a large city, there's always something going on. People in SD definitely like to have fun.
I went to San Diego State University for my Bachelor's in European Humanities and am currently working on a Master's in Hospitality and Tourism Management. I majored in European Humanities because I wanted to match the culture with the food I cooked. I like knowing when and why something was made so I would know more about what to serve it with in an authentic way. Because of my major and curiousity about western civilization, I spent my summers backpacking through Europe eating and drinking for months at a time.
Notable Jobs before TG
Most recently, I was the executive chef at Blind Lady Alehouse, which is where I met Tender Greens chef Pete Balistreri. We started using his salami in the restaurant and became friends. Before that I was also cooking at the US Grant Hotel in San Diego and at Farm House Cafe.
What drives me now?
I love barbecue and Southern food. There's something homey and comforting about it and I've become obsessed with making my own barbecue sauces, hot sauce and mustards. My love for barbecue came from finding an old smoker in college. A buddy and I decided to take the smoker back to his house and we began using it for gatherings. I quickly realized that I had never eaten anything like it in San Diego. After that I started smoking meats as a hobby, making all sorts of mustards - spicy, sweet and beer influenced that I make with hops and malt. I love making different vinegar based sauces for barbecue, usually incorporating local seasonal fruit.
My favorite hot sauce is one that I started making at Blind Lady Alehouse. I ferment Bird's Eye Chilis, then make them into a hot sauce. The fermentation gives them a depth of flavor and really kicks up the heat. We have it at Tender Greens Downtown San Diego right now.
When I am not at Tender Greens?
San Diego is a craft beer city! Who doesn't love beer? On my off days, I like frequenting the local breweries, tasting rooms and beer bars. My favorite spots are the Modern Times Tasting Room, Mike Hess Brewery North Park, Thorn Street Brewery, Belching Beaver North Park, Toronado, Hamilton's and Small Bar.
When I have the time, I enjoy going deep sea fishing with friends and fellow chefs. We usually catch a variety of bass, sculpin and halibut, but we're always hoping for yellowtail. We always eat what we catch.