I was born and raised in the small harbor town of Halesite, New York. My summers were spent swimming and fishing. While my winters were spent sleigh riding and snow shoveling. There was never a worry in the world. My neighborhood was filled with kids, dogs, and always something to do. With Halesite park and harbor only two houses away, it was a wonderful place to grow up. Halesite was a childhood paradise.
After a few years of delivering the local newspaper, I was hired to wash dishes at a local restaurant. It was one of the few restaurants in town and just a five minute walk from home. The restaurant featured pizzas and family style Italian food. The next four years of life was spent scrubbing pots and washing endless amounts of dirty dishes. I was there everyday including my days off. It was my home away from home. Here I learned everything from the bottom to the top. So at age sixteen I was given the chance and promoted to head cook. These were the days I learned work ethic, drive, and most of all to take pride in everything I do. They were rough on me but I loved every minute of it. I am forever grateful to my childhood mentors for all their patience, guidance, and wisdom they shared with me.
Now a High School graduate I had to figure out a plan. My question was answered with the acceptance to Johnson and Wales University. This small town boy finally got his ticket out! I choose the Johnson and Wales route over other schools because it was accredited. They offered a more rounded education compared to the other culinary schools. Johnson and Wales was an amazing experience that gave me a strong foundation. It taught me discipline while unveiling my true passion for food and hospitality. After two of the best years of my life, I was now a Culinary School Graduate ready to take on the World.
After graduation I was very fortunate to work in a variety of different locations like New York, San Francisco, and Massachusetts. My problem wasn’t the hard work or long hours. My problem was never being satisfied and always striving to learn more. With every passing day my curiosity and passion for knowledge grew stronger. I always tried to think of ways to better myself. By chance or by fate my introduction to the Yachting Industry came on Nantucket Island. It was the ultimate life changing experience that opened up endless possibilities for me. It was an absolute blessing to experience traveling the World.
The Yachting Industry was a World that I never knew existed. I found fulfillment and fortune doing what I loved while sailing the seven seas. All of my wildest dreams put together couldn’t compare to this amazing adventure. The next ten years of my life were spent learning the World’s Cuisine and Cultures by way of travel. This was a life far from reporting to the same kitchen and same menu everyday. This was a life where everyday I could be on a different Island or in a completely different Country. Everyday a different place, completely different ingredients, and completely different guests. One day guests could be could be French, the next Russians, Japanese, or Argentinians. I was subjected to understand and please palates from across the Globe. I was immersed into a World of ingredients that I never used or had even heard of. It was here that I was given the opportunity to really develop my own gastronomic personality and personal style.
It took me a long time to understand the true meaning of being a Chef. After Graduating from Johnson and Wales I was told and believed that I was a Chef. But that all changed with my travels experiencing so many different Cuisines and ingredients of the World. By meeting and working under many World class Chefs, I realized that I had used the term “Chef” much too loosely. I humbly admitted and knew that I wasn’t one. I also knew that the only one that could change this was myself. Determined and focused to learn everything I could from every place I visited. I would find the best school, restaurant, hotel, or friendly grandmother in town. Then I would do everything I could for an opportunity to study or work there. With determination and good fortune, many Chefs were extremely generous and allowed me into their kitchens. This was difficult at times being that the majority of the Countries I visited I was unable to speak the language. But with determination, passion, and persistence, it all paid off. For me everyday is a learning experience and I believe that one can never stop learning.
I continued down this path for many years. The more I saw, smelled, and tasted the more I wanted to learn. From olive oil production in Greece, cocoa plantations in Venezuela, rice cultivation in Vietnam, or conch farms in the Bahamas. I wanted to learn everything I could about it. This to me was my real education to becoming a Chef, a life I wouldn’t trade in for the World.