20 years cooking, on and off, 12 years as a chef.
Tell us a bit about your background in the foodservice industry.
I started out as a dishwasher when I was 15, and worked my way onto prep, then to the line. This was my high school job. I was green and knew nothing of the realities of the restaurant industry. I worked there for three years, then took a break from cooking while in university. I got back in the game working the line at a couple of restaurants, then moved to England for a year.
I was accepted to the Education program in Wollongong, Australia and got back on the line to cover university expenses. I graduated and then taught for six months, but hated it and got back on the line. This is when I really started to enjoy cooking. Eventually, I was hired on as head chef of a modern Vietnamese bistro and this is where things started to happen. I got some national recognition, then moved back to Winnipeg after three years as my visa was expiring.
I started at the bottom again in Winnipeg and worked my butt off. I got hired on as sous chef at Sydney’s at the Forks, and took over as head chef two years later. I left there after another two years to be head chef at Pizzeria Gusto, where I spent two years, then left in a ball of flames. I started my own spot, the first incarnation of Deseo Bistro at the Royal Albert Arms, a local punk bar and hotel. Things went great, then the restaurant got flooded out. I started again at the current location, which has been operating now for almost four years. We opened Enoteca six months ago.
What are your earliest memories of cooking?
My earliest memories of cooking were of my father. My mom was a horrible cook; my dad loved food — cheese, seafood, lots of meat. He cooked dinner every night of my time living with them. He calls me up now asking for recipes and ideas for things he gets at the market.