What made you choose cooking as a career and how did your career progress?
I worked on farms in my pre-teen and teenage years in Toronto and helped my mother in the kitchen – I saw how food was grown and how it was prepared. I chose cooking because I liked the camaraderie of the chefs and cooks who I met on my way from part time jobs on through cooking college (George Brown College in Toronto). My progression has been good – I worked in Toronto, Sydney, Australia, Ocho Rios, Jamaica and Cayman.
What’s your signature style of cuisine and how has it evolved over the years?
College was classical (French – why wouldn’t it be?). Seafood and Italian is my cuisine. When I came to Cayman, Pappagallo was the first Italian restaurant where I was fully immersed in Italian: food, song and dance from the owner, servers, everybody. I’ve been to Italy ten times and did a stage in a restaurant in Venice.
Do you cook at home? If so, what do you like to cook?
Yes, I have a ‘Big Green Egg’. The Egg is a unique barbecue product, with unmatched flexibility and capabilities that surpass all other conventional cookers combined. It is a smoker, a grill and an oven and you can cook literally any food on it year round, from appetisers to entrees to desserts. It is made from ceramic which retains heat with accurate temperature control and no hot spots. It looks like an Egg. I’m really into BBQ: grilling, smoking, just utilising the The Big Green Egg for everything from baked beans to a 20 pound turkey.
What’s your favourite restaurant on-island (other than your own!) and why?
Sunshine Suites café – it is simple food where I go with the family, have a cold beer, a burger/fish taco and I can never complain. A great meal every time.
What’s your favourite restaurant anywhere in the world and why?
I ate at Susur Lee’s restaurant in Toronto about ten years ago (it was just called Susur’s). I had
the tasting menu – it started backwards which just blew me away. Mario Batali’s Babbo in NYC is a great restaurant as well. Pure Italian, Mario’s way.
Do you watch TV chefs? If so, who is your favourite and why?
Kitchen Nightmares and Hell’s Kitchen with Gordon Ramsay. I agree with his philosophy: you are working with food, people are paying for it and it has to be perfect. You have to have your point heard. I also like Mario Batali and Bobby Flay – Iron Chefs!
Do you have a particular favourite cookery book? If so, which one?
Norman’s ‘New World Cookery’ by Chef Norman Van Aken and Mario Batali’s The Babbo