I am the Director of Operations and Executive Chef for Pier 22, Grove restaurant and Pier 22 Catering Company. I have been in the restaurant industry my entire life and thoroughly enjoy almost everything the business represents. I realized at a young age that feeding people was a very satisfying experience and it was a great way to make people happy and put a smile on their face. My mom always told me I needed to do something that would keep me busy and the restaurant business does exactly that.
Q: Please tell us a little bit about your family.
I have a wonderful family that has supported me through my entire career. My immediate family all live very close so I am able to see them often and spend quality time around the holidays. Of course the restaurant business is very demanding so it is always easy for them to come to either of the restaurants and spend time together or just stop in for a nice meal. My daughter is attending Florida State University and is going to have a great future in nursing since she follows the idea of helping people. My sister has been a teacher and now works for Sarasota County School board. She has always been there for me no matter what and I am so proud to have her in my life. My parents are retired living their best life in Venice, Florida and I am so happy that they are nearby so I can see them regularly.
Q: Please tell us about your current, past, or future career. What do you love most about what you do?
I have been in the industry for over 30 years and started cooking before I could see the counter top. My grandmother was a great cook and definitely had an influence on my desire to cook for people since her philosophy was food is the way to everyone’s heart. I love that about the restaurant business. The most memorable times in peoples lives are surrounded by food. Birthdays, weddings, rehearsal dinners, proposals, business deals, celebrations of life, fundraisers, Thanksgiving, Christmas, holidays, etc. These times are where memories are made and being a part of those by feeding people is very gratifying. I have met a lot of people and listened to their stories of how memories were made at the restaurant or at an event they attended and we catered. So awesome that I was there for them even though I only had a small part in that memory but hopefully an unforgettable one.
Q: What are a couple of your favorite restaurants in our community?
I typically spend the majority of my time at independent local restaurants. The money that I spend with local restaurants I know goes back to the local community. These entrepreneurs have spent their life to build their restaurant brand and I will always support the independents. Euphemia Haye on Longboat Key is iconic to me and Ray and Darcy Arpke personify independent restaurateurs and have stayed true to who they are over the years. I don’t eat there enough but I definitely don’t get out much. I also love Audreys Jamaican food in Sarasota. It is a very small restaurant off the beaten path but the positive energy when you walk in the door personifies what makes a restaurant successful. They treat you like family when you walk in the door and their curry chicken is the best I have ever had and it is served on a plastic plate…unreal! My favorite Mexican food is La Barisa and it is as authentic as you will find anywhere.
Q: How long have you lived or worked in our community?
I moved here 18 years ago and have been working in the Bradenton/Sarasota market. We opened Grove in LWR December 10th 2018 and have enjoyed serving that community for almost 2 years. We look forward to many years to come since we have a long term lease with LWR commercial.
Q: Who is the most interesting person you’ve met here in our community?
I met my girlfriend in LWR at an event she hosted. We have not spent a day apart since and she is without a doubt the most interesting person I have met. I am blessed to have been introduced to her and will never forget that night.
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why?
Wuhan China! I want to visit the food market there and attempt to understand what in the world they are eating and why.
Q: What is one of your favorite movies? TV shows?
Kill BIll! Best movie series ever!
Q: What advice would you give to people?
The most important thing in your life is not money, cars, homes, toys, cell phones or any tangible thing. It is relationships! The only thing you leave this world with is the relationships you have with people so make sure you put your best effort in building them as they will dictate who you were, who you are and who you become.
Q: What is something on your bucket list?
A cup of coffee with Thomas Keller at the French Laundry. Best restaurateur in the world, period!
Q: What is your go to band when you cant decide what to listen to?
Nirvana or Pearl Jam
Q: What current or former local business makes you the most nostalgic about our community?
Schlitz Beer for its ties to the family that resided in LWR before it was LWR and I drank a few of those when I was younger.
Q: If you could choose anyone that is alive today and not a relative; with whom would you love to have lunch? Why? And where locally would y’all meet for this lunch?
Thomas Keller with the French Laundry and I would cook the hamburgers at Grove! hahahaha
Q: What is your favorite thing or something unique about our community?
It is so well groomed.
Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 to 10 years?
I will continue to support the communties that I serve and will continue to work on relationships within those communities. I will continue to create and serve great meals to people and build the businesses as our community continues to grow and prosper.
Q: (Even for friends or family), what is something interesting that most people don’t know about you?
I learned how to ski when I was 3 years old when we moved to Germany and Austria where I was raised until the age of 8.
Q: What is the most beautiful place you have ever been?
The mountains of Montana by far!
Q: Favorite month? favorite holiday? and best single day on the calendar?
March because of peak season and I thrive under pressure. Thanksgiving because we feed ALOT of people. August 18th, 2001 because that was the day my daughter was born.
Q: What would you rate a 10 out of 10?
Q: Who inspires you to be better?
Hugh Miller is one of the best human beings I have ever met and I cannot put to words how much he has inspired me to be the best I can possibly be.
Q: What is one or two of your favorite smells?
Fresh picked cilantro and my girlfriend.
Q: Finally, what 3 words or phrases come to mind when you think of the word HOME?
Breakfast, dinner and lunch