What has been your proudest career accomplishment within the last year?

A partnership with Halifax Urban Ministries, a local powerhouse nonprofit providing hunger and homelessness relief in the Daytona Beach community. Together, with their director and teams of volunteers, we were able to source, order, pack and distribute over 1.2 million pounds of food during the year to community members and families in desperate need at weekly food drives.

What do you value most in a workplace?

TEAMWORK. Most chefs can attest—you spend more time with your kitchen crew than you do at home, so it becomes like a family, and that is important to me. I work hard to instill that in my team members: Treat each other well, work together and have a good time.

I like for each and every member of the brigade to feel good about what they do and  walk out at the end of the shift with their heads held high, confident about what they have accomplished and knowing how valuable each and every one of them is to the team.

What’s been your funniest on-the-job disaster?

Although not funny at the time, we can now find some sort of humor in the matter. My first job as a teenager was at a fast-food restaurant located in the local mall food court. Another employee left the fryers on after they emptied the oil during the morning cleaning, setting off the alarm and releasing the ANSUL system. The kitchen was covered in fire suppressant, we were forced to close during the busiest holiday shopping week of the year. 

What's the one thing you wish you could change about the industry?

Especially following COVID, it has been so devastating to see how many independent restaurant casualties there have been. I would hate to see the industry continue to trend towards chain restaurant takeover. We all love a good mom-and-pop shop, that corner bar or the neighborhood diner. I hope we can keep them alive and keep them competitive even in this ever-changing market.