After a youth of minor (and sometimes not-so-minor) delinquency growing up in the Southeastern United States, I managed to graduate from Radford University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Foods and Nutrition. However, instead of taking off on the traditional route of going straight into grad school and pursuing a career in clinical dietetics, for some dysfunctional reason I yearned to pay my dues in the world of professional cooking. Knowing next to nothing about even simple food preparation, I took my first, second, and third kitchen jobs while still in college. That eventually led me to enroll at Johnson and Wales University in Charlotte, where I earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in Culinary Arts.
My goal was never really to be a “chef” per say. I simply just wanted to learn about food, while mastering the skill of cooking. The hope was to accomplish this and then take my culinary skills back to the world of dietetics, while simultaneously doing the opposite, using my nutrition background in my cooking. In addition to my goal of learning how to cook, the plan had been to experience some of the adventure of the restaurant business as well during the informal segment of my education. That accomplishment was quick and easy. In addition to the standard issue of too many second and third degree burns to count, chopping off pieces of my fingers regularly, and receiving extreme abuse on a regular basis from chefs reminding me how terrible I was at life, there were also other less frequent, but more memorable events during the early years of my industry development. Some of these “events” included such instances as watching the power fizzle out during Saturday night service (more than once), and witnessing the only other line cook working with me show up two hours late, and just drunk enough, to cut himself so badly within the first 5 minutes that he had to be rushed to the hospital, leaving me to deal with the rest of the covers by myself for the evening. Of course, there was also the time that I wrecked a catering truck on my way to an NFL venue. There are plenty of more impressive kitchen stories out there, but you get the picture. Not much surprises me at this point.
While I have worked for some fairly notable companies over the years that include The Breakers Resort in Palm Beach, Chateau Morrisette in VA, Chef Charles Catering in Charlotte, Alseasons in Sydney and Alaska Wildland Adventures on the Kenai Peninsula, there have been quite a few forgettable spots as well. It was during one of these less remarkable periods of employment that Your Way Cuisine came to life. I began cooking for people in their homes during the day, while still working in a restaurant at night. While most of my friends in the industry often take personal chefs less seriously than restaurant chefs, and part of me agrees with them at times, it was during this period that I began to feel some true fulfillment for the first time since starting the journey into the cooking world. My goal of combining my 2 degrees and making a difference in someone’s health was finally being achieved. I was getting an opportunity to be more creative, use fresher ingredients, and do something more positive than I ever had in the restaurant business. The fact that the money was often triple didn’t make it so terrible either.
So, I continued cooking privately for clients and doing menu and diet consulting, sometimes full-time and sometimes in addition to another job. While I just figured I’d finally found my niche as my clientele expanded, my career has taken on a whole other avenue the last couple of years. My other lifelong goal of becoming a published writer has developed a bit, and I have found myself globetrotting, writing, and working as a freelance/mercenary chef in different parts of the world. I’ve even begun working some in television and helping lead expeditions in far away countries. When I’m not cooking or traveling, I’m sitting on the board of directors for Wellspring International Outreach (www.wellspring-outreach.org).
In addition to exploring more of the world through travel, my future goals include maybe finally working towards that registered dietitian (RD) credential and eventually cranking out a cookbook one day. For now, I’m content sharing recipes, nutrition information and other food and travel adventures with you here.