From an early age, I knew I wanted to be a chef and, after attending culinary school, I had the good fortune to work under and be inspired by some of the country’s leading chefs.
I earned my chops in my hometown of Chicago—a city that truly celebrates food—first at Le Lan (acclaimed for its innovative French-Asian cuisine) under Chef Bill Kim, and then at Paul Kahan’s critically acclaimed Blackbird restaurant.
Then I headed to New York City where I honed my skills at Jean Georges, known for exquisite four-star cuisine, at Il Buco Alimentari, one of NYC’s finest for authentic, rustic Mediterranean fare, and then took a leap into management at Lydia Bastianich’s Del Posto, under the guidance of two incredible chefs, Mark Ladner and Melissa Rodriguez.
Life brought me to Las Vegas where I worked as the Executive Sous Chef at Cut by Wolfgang Puck, the Chef de Cuisine at Guy Savoy in Caesar’s Palace (where I also led intimate and exclusive cooking classes for high rollers), and then the Assistant Executive Chef of Special Events at Wynn Las Vegas.
Today, thanks to the wonders of technology, I’m delighted to share the insider knowledge I gained under these great mentors with everyday cooks. My website offers professional tips, tricks, and great recipes that take your cooking from ordinary to elevated. And my live, virtual classes let you bring a professional chef right in your own kitchen. Let’s cook together!
I cook right alongside you, I answer questions, and I offer tips and tricks along the way.
I really struggled with learning in a traditional classroom. That all changed in culinary school when someone explained how to do something, why to do it that way, and most importantly, showed me how. For the first time, learning made sense. I take the same approach today. When teaching a new technique, I talk about what we’re going to learn, why it works, and I show my students exactly what I mean. I check in and see how they are doing and give feedback or tips on how to do it better. And if someone makes a mistake? Wonderful! That offers an opportunity to show how to fix it. “Knowledge is power!”
I think knowledge is the most important part of cooking. I help you think beyond recipes and understand what you’re looking for when you cook. A vinaigrette, for example, is typically two parts fat to one part acid. Once you know that, you can create countless vinaigrettes—lemon juice with olive oil, red wine vinegar and bacon fat, the options are endless!
I believe less is more. I focus on quality, seasonal ingredients and highlight them in my work. A fresh pasta, tossed in a sauce made from lightly cooked seasonal tomatoes, finished with a little basil and olive oil, will blow away any restaurant pasta with 10 different ingredients.
Mark Ladner, a great chef I worked under at Del Posto, used to say, “What grows together goes together.” I carry this idea with me as I peruse the market deciding what to cook or teach next. Let the seasons do the work for you! They’ll guide you in what ingredients to use.
I like hearing from people, so if you have a question about a recipe, comment on my blog or ask me on Facebook. Follow me on Instagram for new ideas and inspiration. Sign up for my newsletter. And try a class! Or gift one to a friend. They’re fun, affordable, and a really lovely idea for hosting parties, date nights, girls’ nights, or special events.