How did you become interested in food?
After high school, I decided that I either wanted to become a chef and cook on a cruise ship traveling around the world, or a U.S. Marine. I chose a U.S. Marine. Now, after 21 years of service and a plethora of jobs, assignments, and travel, it was time to do the only other thing that I love to do—cook for people. Creating amazing food and seeing the smiles on their faces, is the most rewarding feeling for me.
Who most influenced you?
My biggest influence was a great friend of mine, Ward Savage. He works in Manhattan in the finance world as a distressed assets trader. When I told him that I was retiring from the Marines he asked me what I was going to do next. I told him that I was going to attend an Ivy League MBA program and get into finance like him. He told me not to do it; the money was great, but it’s not fun and more importantly, not rewarding. He then asked me what I really “love” to do. It took me a minute to think about it, because cooking has not been on my mind for a long time. My focus had been on training my Marines to ensure that they all came home alive from combat. After a few minutes, I remembered the joy I had felt cooking for my family growing up and my dream of being a chef on a cruise ship. So I told him that I love to cook, and he said “then that’s what you should do— be a chef.” He also said that when the day comes to open my own place, he will finance it. I no longer want to be on a cruise ship, but there is nothing more that I want to do than to become a chef and make people happy with my cooking.
Did you have to overcome any obstacles or challenges to come to the CIA?
I am 38, not a young buck anymore. I grew accustomed to a lifestyle that I liked very much. It was difficult to give that up as well as a huge decision and risk to enroll in college for three years. Plus I was living in San Diego at the time and had to move across the country to attend the CIA.
Do you already have a degree from another college or did you previously have a different career?
I currently have two degrees. An Associate of Arts in General Education from Campbell University and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Accounting from the Citadel.
Why did you choose the CIA?
I researched the best culinary schools in the world, read articles, newspapers, consumer reports, and the CIA was always on top.
What do you like best about CIA?
The chefs! They are amazing, talented professionals and instructors with tremendous experience and exceptional credentials. In every class, you will not only benefit from their expertise and dedication, the knowledge and insights they willingly share, will inspire you to achieve greatness. Every day I look forward to speaking with the chefs because they have an incredible passion for this industry.
What are your career goals/plans?
Long-term, I would like to own my own restaurant that specializes in “craft” foods and beer that are locally grown and locally brewed. It would be a place where young professional could come to eat great food and drink great beer. Short-term, my plan is to work at a few different places to gain additional experience and a working knowledge of craft foods.
Any advice for prospective students?
It is simple, visit the campus and take a tour. It will blow you away. If it doesn’t, then this is not the career for you. I visited the CIA before enrolling and that day cemented my retirement and my decision to attend the CIA.