I love cooking, and even more so I love to share my cooking with friends to see their reaction to the flavors and tastes I introduce them to. Food, drink and friends. These three things in combination create a chemical reaction that I love to play with. Shape. Mold.
The recipes in this website are a collection I’ve been working on for over 7 years. Some are completely original, others are a hybrid of three or four recipes that I’ve combined and amended to my taste.
In addition to the recipes I post here, I also have a collection of blog posts on different topics related to cooking, drinking and entertainment.
I hope you find something here that helps you in your quest for that something special in your life. Food, drink and friends, it’s what I personally find as one of the most important things in my life.
My story as a chef started when I was very young. From an early age, I was interested in what was going on in the kitchen. My earliest memories are of my parents putting together meals for my brother, sister and myself. We were not well off by any means, so the food was basic. My mother was not very adept in the kitchen, so it was my father who picked up most of the weight there. I will never forget the smoking black roast that my mother had burnt being buried in the backyard. My father was not happy as a roast then was something that was special and not to be wasted.
Living in Los Angeles, there was a heavy Mexican influence on the meals. Tacos, enchiladas, burritos. My mother was from Atlanta, Georgia, so there was some southern influences thrown in there too. Simmered greens, black eyed peas, fried chicken. Packaged foods were in the mix. Macaroni and cheese. Frozen broccoli. I don’t remember a whole lot of fresh foods on the table.
Pretty much through my teens up until I was in my early twenties, food was either fast food, or some version of it that was heated up in the home. Fish sticks, frozen french fries, frozen vegetables, the occasional iceberg lettuce salad with thousand island dressing. Meals came out of a box or a bag, ready to be heated up and consumed.
My introduction to professional cooking came with my first job as a busboy/dishwasher at a local roadside diner called Mr. Ed’s in Vacaville, California. Basic menu with breakfast served 24/7, burgers, hot dogs, pie. I worked my way into the kitchen after a year or so. There was not much skill needed. Flipping eggs over easy without breaking the yolk was probably the most challenging part. The food for the most part was what I was used to. Frozen, pre-cooked food that you opened and heated up.
From there I moved up the road for a pay raise to a commercial diner chain. It was the remake of the old chain Sambo’s, now called Seasons to be more politically correct. Again, the food was more or less the same. Pre-cooked packaged or frozen food that was heated up and put on a plate. Not much technical skill needed outside of timing of the plates so all the food would come out at the same time on the order. It was mind numbing work with bosses that were brutal.
I lasted about one year there until I had to make a move. I saw an ad in the paper for a cooks position at a high end steak and seafood place in the neighboring town. The Fairfield Landing. Legendary in it’s day as one of the best places to eat in the area. I was hired on the spot, and little did I know that this would be my beginning into the world of real cooking and food preparation.
Up to this point, I had only worked on big flat cooking areas good for eggs, hash browns, bacon and burgers. My first tour of the kitchen at my new job was a shocker. There was no griddle. Everything was done on a broiler or in saute pans. I was terrified! lol.
Needless to say that first year was a crash course in a professional kitchen ran by a French Culinary Institute trained chef by the name of Spike. It was hard. It was brutal. There was little love. It was hot as hell. It was dangerous. It was the most stress I could ever imagine in my life. How or why I stayed three years I can’t tell you. It was an addiction. When things were going smooth in the kitchen it was a rush. Fast paced like an oiled machine. When things broke down or went out of sync, you wish you were dead. The entire restaurant would grind to a screaming halt. Brutal.
But it was here that I learned about real food. Fresh produce and what it looked like. Fresh fish straight from the fish monger at the back door who was excited to bring in the 50 pound halibut they just got in. Black angus beef in huge pieces from the cow. Whole butts, NY strips, whole prime rib roasts, whole filet mignon strips. Fresh sauces, fresh salad dressings. Everything was made from scratch. It was an incredible experience in that regard.
It was during my three years there, that I learned about ingredients, flavors and the art of cooking fresh food. It was a incredible experience to find myself in, and at the same time one of the most traumatic. There is nothing, I mean nothing as hard as working the line in a restaurant. Cuts, burns, insults, standing in water over your ankles because the floor drain is clogged. The show always had to go on no matter what. After three years, I had to pull the cord and move on. College was calling in another town and I was at my ends with cooking in a restaurant.
Those skills I picked up were mostly used at home. Recipes were replicated at home for dinner, but overall I didn’t fully grasp or appreciate what I had learned.
Life took its turns and I ended up in New York City running my web design company. There was no time for cooking. In fact every meal was eaten out. I still appreciated good food, but instead of preparing it, I went out and let someone else do it for me being the food critic instead.
Then came the Great Recession of 2008 and my life was turned upside down. The web design business came to it’s end, along with the money flow I had enjoyed. Time to buckle down and start cooking at home. I realized I could make the delicious food I enjoyed at a fraction of the cost. With plenty of free time on my hands, I started to open up the cook books and recipe websites for ideas for the next meal. The farmer’s markets in NYC are a treat and it was here that I started to connect with the food I was eating and the farmers that were making that possible. Basically a personal paradigm shift happened. I was now looking at ingredients and the food I was putting in my body. Where it was coming from and how it was produced took center stage.
Farmers markets, international travel, restaurant supply stores, specialty spice stores, local butchers all became my playground. This is when I started my work on my recipes, and where it continues today. My interest and appreciation of the art of making great food has only grown deeper over the past few years. Research, travel and meeting the people that are passionate about food has given me a new purpose in life.
My intent with this website is to share that passion and knowledge that has grown in me, with you. Food is so damn important. Food is not just about nourishment or something to jam in your mouth with little or no thought. It is truly one of the great pleasures we as humans have been given in this life. Food is at the center of family and friends. It’s what brings people together to share in an experience that is a gift of the gods. For millennium people have celebrated life with food. There is no life without food, and that is not to be forgotten. It is a sacred gift that is not to be wasted or taken for granted.
Food, drink and friends.
The journey continues. To many more great meals with friends!!