September '17 Magazines 89128 - Page 35

Why Culinary? “My love of food propelled me into culinary. I was studying psychology at the turning point in my career path and, at the time, it wasn’t something I felt would fulfill me as a long term career. Shortly after graduating, I enrolled in the French Culinary Institute (FCI) in New York and had the opportuni- ty to go to Italy through a work-study program through the Institute. I was submerged into the Italian culture and lan- how to respect them. As a young kid growing up in Maryland, you look at crab, truffle and more elaborate ingredients, whereas now at a farmer’s market seeing an heirloom tomato at its peak and roasting that over homemade pasta is my favorite thing ever!” How did you rise in the ranks at Wolfgang Puck? “At the beginning of my career as a line cook at Cucina by guage and every single day Wolfgang Puck at The Shops at the ALMA Cooking at Crystals, I learned the School in Parma, Italy, I was learning a differ- ent region in Italy and the traditional plates within them. I toured Northern Italy for part of the time and then basic techniques. When Keep it simple. I’m always so inspired by using the best ingredients, not manipulating them, but to have them really come through in a dish is really my greatest accomplishment. I became a line cook at Pizzeria & Cucina by Wolfgang Puck (now Cucina by Wolfgang Puck), I learned a lot from Executive Chef Southern Italy, in Capri, Dustin Lewandowski. Then for the other part. It was life-changing living there, and it was there that I found my love of Italian cuisine and pasta making.” I had the opportunity to work under Chef Eric Klein at Spago Las Vegas at The Forum Shops at Caesars. They both taught me how to look at the big picture, manage other chefs, how to be a businessman and balance a budget, among others. Still, to this day, I’m building on those elements and always asking myself where I can “Learning regional cuisine in Italy made me look at ingredients from a simplistic standpoint, and do better. It’s all very thrilling to me, and I’m constantly learning.” September/October 2017 What is it about Italian cuisine that speaks to you? 35