How it began.
I guess my passion for the culinary arts began early in life watching my mother cooking the traditional Puerto Rican dish Pernil (roast pork) and Arroz Con Gandulez. Maybe it was while helping my father with my grandmother’s secret recipe for Italian stuffing in Thanksgiving. But I think my calling became real when I worked in my first kitchen while an undergrad in Business school. I was hired as a prep cook for a “TGI Friday’s style” of restaurant. I had never been so dedicated and passionate about a job that most would find tedious and burdensome. Soon after, I was promoted to line cook, then the skillet, to the fryer and eventually to where the big boys played…the grill!
I worked at several restaurants during my four years in business school. I wanted to quit school and go to culinary school, but there was one thing standing in my way…my father. That was a big thing to budge. He was set on framing that bachelor’s degree. So as you can guess, I graduated, gave him his degree to frame and put aside my dreams of becoming a Chef. Shortly after proceeding to I enter the gates of the corporate world.
I never stopped cooking! If anything I continued to do so as often as I could. I would cook for family gatherings; birthdays sometimes just for no reason and bring it all into work to my corporate colleagues, who would every time ask me the infamous question. “Why are you here and not cooking for a living?” The day finally came…when I had my epiphany and enrolled in culinary school. Only took me about 10 years to take the leap. I attended Le Cordon Bleu School of Culinary Arts in Los Angeles, CA while working my full time job during the day. I was averaging 4 hours of sleep through the program. Even though I became one of the cast from Night of the Living Dead, I Still managed to graduate with honors and a 3.8 GPA. I was determined.
After graduation I did an internship at Public Restaurant in New York City aside to Iron Chef Brad Farmarie. Working in a New York City fast paced restaurant was a great learning experience but since I went into this later in life than others, I needed to explore other avenues in the culinary fields. This brings me to how I came to catering.
I answered an ad on Craigslist for a Paella Chef to cook for a one time event with T’s California BBQ, for a Paella wedding. I cooked many of paellas in my life and probably eaten ten times that amount in the ports of Newark, NJ. In Brick City, a large Portuguese/ Spanish community and the best Paellas I ever had. So I took the gig. I knew Troy the owner of T’s had his reservations about my abilities at first. Once he saw and tasted my skills, it was the beginning of a beautiful relationship. I became T’s right hand man and learned about Santa Maria Style Barbecuing. I worked with T’s for several years until they decided take a break from catering. As much as I pestered Troyinue, for the man is the only other person I know that has a passion to the degree I do. But there was no budging him. One day…I was surfing Craigslist at Santa Maria grills. I saw this one that had a familiar look to it. Not only the grill but where it was stationed. It was his. This is when I knew that it was time to start my own dream. The next day I brought his Santa Maria. And so we begin to make history…