My love affair with food began at an early age. Being raised in San Francisco allowed me to experience many different cultural cuisines. I loved walking to the neighborhood Russian bakery with my father to enjoy poppy seed pastries and sweet coffee with milk. And eating steaming tamales in the Mission. Or dumplings and noodles in Chinatown. I could go on and on....
I began cooking at the age of 12 or 13. I complained (incessantly, apparently) about the quality and authenticity of the food my mother turned out of her kitchen. Since my mother was a career woman, she was thrilled to turn over the time-robbing chore to me. I started slowly, baking cookies and the like on weekends. Eventually, I prepared the meals for every family occasion.
Time went by and I found myself with a career in banking. Although I had "gone corporate" I spent all of my free time studying cooking techniques and entertaining at home. I took a number of cooking series at Tante Marie's Cooking School and studied under Chef Marinette Georgi in Berkeley. I took master classes with local culinary forces like Bruce Aidell (the mastermind behind the sausage company). I loved to try new techniques and my friends were willing test subjects. One day, someone suggested I change my career and go pro.
So I did.
I started training late in life and felt I needed to go to school to learn the professional side of the business. I decided to attend the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York and graduated at the top of my class. Since that time, I have dedicated myself to my craft and accepted positions that would allow me to build a solid and widely varied skill set.
My professional career began in Washington D.C. at Restaurant Vidalia under the tutelage of Chef Jeff Buben. He was a very demanding and imposing man but I learned the importance of being well organized and intentional in the kitchen. My career path then moved me to a large luxury hotel in Scottsdale, Arizona, where I worked the as a line cook at Restaurant Marquesa (a Spanish/Mediterranean restaurant). Since the property had a large banquet facility and a world renowned golf course, I had an opportunity to work a number of large-scale banquets, most notably the Phoenix Open.
Then the traveling started. I managed a production team for the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta and helped establish a Tex-Mex restaurant in Estonia (yes, Estonia!). Later, I went on to serve as Executive Chef for More Than a Mouthful, a mid-sized catering company in Los Angeles.
Since my return to the bay area, I have expanded my focus beyond the commercial kitchen. Although still involved with the bay area catering "scene", I now work more closely with individuals to improve their relationships with the foods they eat. I took part in a team that opened Corners Café, a youth-operated café that is located in the Youth Uprising Community Center in East Oakland. As chef and kitchen manager, I trained the youth to improve their cooking skills and their understanding of nutritional principles.
I have been working as a private chef for many years. I enjoy the challenge of creating meals that families can enjoy utilizing fresh, seasonal, and sustainable ingredients.
Currently I serve on the faculty at Contra Costa College and teach classes for their professional culinary program.