What first sparked your interest in food? Why did you decide to become a chef?
Back in junior high school we had to take a class called Home Economics. Part of that was spending a quarter of the year in kitchens in the school making food. I did well and really liked it. Plus you got to eat what you made (bonus). In high school I told my parents that I was not going to go to college. I was told that was fine so long as I got some kind of post-secondary education. My plan was to learn small engine repair so we went to sign me up. The wait for the program was 2 years so my father said what else can he enroll in while he waits for that program? He told them I was working as a cook at that time so I got put in the cooking program, that put me where I am today.
What was your culinary school experience like?
I had some great instructors who I am still in touch with today. We had to learn basics cooking in one kitchen and then moved into the kitchen that fed the students and staff as well as visitors to the school. We had to show proficiency in breakfast, lunch and dinner production. I was able to complete a 62 week course in just 54 weeks.
Who are some chefs you admire and why?
I mostly admire the chefs who took time for their days to teach me. The fact that they believed that I was worth their time to make me better was amazing to me. Also have admiration for the pitmasters for the BBQ world for being so innovative and really bringing the art smoking meat to the forefront.
What is your favorite cuisine to cook? What is your favorite cuisine to eat?
Smoking meat is my favorite. To create my own spice blends and rubs and combine that with the right wood smoke to impart flavors that will compliment the spices as well as the meat is truly satisfying. It is a labor of love and if you don’t take your time and do it right, it isn’t worth doing at all.
What is your favorite dish to cook? What is your favorite dish to eat?
My favorite dish to cook is a family favorite of my children. They always called it spaghettini but I don’t know that it has an official name. It is an Italian dish with a ridged spaghetti pasta, Italian sausage, tomatoes, basil, garlic, chicken stock, wine. (Now I am hungry!) It is a dish that I will never put on a menu, it is reserved for my family.
What ingredients do you like to cook with?
I like to make my own spice blends. I try to make as many as I can without using salt. After having a couple of strokes in my early 40’s I was told to cut as much salt out of my diet as possible. Since there is salt on every dinner table, I prefer to let everyone add their if they feel the need. It is pretty interesting to make something that people enjoy an then see to look on their face when you tell them there is no salt in it. So many foods have wonderful flavors that can stand on their own without salt.
With food trends changing so rapidly these days, how do you keep up with what’s going on in the food world?
I try to keep up on things by being involved with food related groups online and trade magazines. I have been lucky enough to find some of the good ones!
What culinary organizations are you a part of?
I am a certified BBQ Judge and Table Captain for the Kansas City Barbeque Society. I have been selected as a judge for the World Series of BBQ Invitational and the Open competitions featuring the best of the best.
What was your inspiration when creating The Wise’s new menus?
I want to create a menu that both the hotel guests and the locals will enjoy. I am hoping that the new menu will be well received by our guests and help change the mindset of people to come in more often. It is comprised of offerings that are recognizable to everyone and people can relate to.
What are your future plans for The Wise? What is your vision?
Figuring out The Brand and how we can make everything fit together so that The Wise is a successful viable member of the community. I would like to see The Wise grow into a place that families can feel comfortable coming to even though there is a high level business dinner going on three tables away. The Wise should a place where everyone can feel comfortable having a drink and some food while socializing with others, watching a game on the television, or catching up on emails after a day of travel, work, or school.
Why should people eat at The Wise?
Fresh food that is planned and prepared with care for the diner’s enjoyment. I ask every one of my cooks if they like their mother – if they do I tell them they should never send anything out of the kitchen that they would not feed to their mother hoping for her approval. Every dish that comes out of the kitchen needs to something that they have pride in so that our customers get the best that we have to offer.