Proudest career accomplishment in the past year:

I have been volunteering with the Foodbank of Santa Barbara’s Teens Love Cooking program. I help teach and mentor local youth on how to cook and eat a healthy meal. I feel everything I do in my professional career helps me with the skills I can pass along to the kids I work with. I enjoy sharing my love of food with the kids and helping them feel confident in the kitchen. 

Most rewarding moment so far: 

I did a pop-up restaurant to showcase some recipes I had been working on. I invited my friends, family and a few restaurant owners to enjoy a four-course meal inspired by a mix of Mexican, French and Asian cuisines and techniques. I served a Thai shrimp ceviche, pork belly soba, New York strip, broccolini with an oyster sauce, and passionfruit flan with a guava reduction. Everyone had a great time, and I enjoyed being back in a small restaurant, cooking. Months of planning resulted in a wonderful night that I will never forget. 

One thing you’d change about foodservice: 

I believe our industry has some of the hardest-working employees, and sometimes they are undercompensated for their skilled craftsmanship. 

Most valued trait in a workplace: 

Work-life balance. Working at the university allows me time to volunteer, participate in the local food scene and spend quality time with my wife and family. 

Photograph courtesy of Nikki Tangel