My love for cooking started when I was young. My father is a chef and graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. He worked in a busy kitchen and I use to love going to work with him on days off from school. Any prep work he gave me I would try to do the best job I could with hopes of making his busy day a little easier. Years later, against his best wishes , I followed in his footsteps. After graduating from the Culinary, I worked in a couple restaurants in the Hudson Valley until I got a phone call to come back to Aureole in NYC where I did my externship. It was the old Aureole on East 61st St. I remember the first day I walked into that kitchen and falling in love with everything around me. The smells, the stainless everything, the ingredients I had never seen before and the urgency that every cook had to get ready for service.
After a few years of working my way up the line, I was given the opportunity to become a private chef. It was tough decision to leave the kitchen I loved but it turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made. I have been working for a great family for the past 10 years. I travel to Maine in the summers where I get to cook with ingredients that are grown in a garden just steps from the kitchen. Insanely fresh seafood is caught just off their dock in Penobscot Bay. It's a chef's dream.
My wife and I relocated with them to Austin,TX. We now have two incredible kids. Since living in Texas, I have fallen in love with barbecue and all things cooked over a wood burning fire. The flavors of wood fired pits slowly smoking beef and pork were flavors I had never tasted. I found a new obsession. I bought a small offset smoker and have been practicing the craft every chance I get. I am totally hooked.
When I found out about bonfire, I couldn't wait to get involved. I am really looking forward to working with some amazing chefs and meeting people that share a love for cooking on an open flame.
My first memory of cooking on a campfire
...took place on my first camping trip as a boy scout. I was probably 12 years old. It was in the middle of the winter and there was a good amount of snow on the ground. We had to build a fire pit, gather our wood and start the fire with flint and steal. Luckily we were teamed up with some of the older guys who had done this before. I remember just being amazed that we were able to get a fire going but then we cooked our dinner on it. That just blew my mind. We threw a grate over the coals and grilled some marinated flank steaks. We put a few cans of beans on the coals. I'm pretty sure we over cooked the crap out of the steak but it was delicious after a full day of hiking into camp.
My favorite memory around a bonfire
took place on the island of Islesboro, ME. It was the last night of a 3 month trip working as a private chef for a family that has a summer residence on the island. I have been going there for the past 10 years and have made some great summer friends that have turned into some of my best friends. Many of them are lucky to call Islesboro home and some, like me, were departing the next day to return back home to their families and lives where we spend the rest of the year. On that last night we lit a raging fire. As the sparks flew into the crisp late August sky, we cracked open some bottles and reflected back on all the fun we had together that summer. I introduced them to a game called Stinky Pinky (it sounds like a dirty game but it's not). We had so much fun and shared some giant belly laughs. Log after log got thrown onto the fire and as the sun started to rise the next morning, nobody wanted the night to end.
My worst experience outdoors
was a recurring experience every spring when I worked in Black Rock Forest with the forest manager. The dirt roads that ran through the property would have to get raked every spring to keep them in good condition. My job was to walk the roads with a shovel and rock pick any of the large rocks that got dug up. It took about 2 weeks to complete and somehow those 2 weeks always coincided with the hatching of the black flies. No matter how much spray or coverup materials I wore, they always seemed to find a way to bite. For me, those were the worst 2 weeks of the year to be in the great outdoors.
I can't wait to
return to the Hudson Valley and share my passion for cooking with a live fire.