My culinary career began sophomore year at Kent State University when I realized that advertising was not my true passion. I asked myself what I really loved to do and what I wanted to spend the rest of my life learning and engaging in. Growing up, my family was into traveling and experiencing different cultures. Part of the adventure was trying new foods. I knew in my heart that hospitality management was the right direction for me.
While still pursuing a degree at Kent, I took on my first restaurant job at Blue Canyon Kitchen and Tavern under Chef Brandt Evans. I started as a prep cook and worked my way up to a line cook after three months. I spent a year at Blue Canyon, learning the craft and igniting my passion for the culinary arts, until I decided to study abroad in Florence, Italy. In the summer of 2008, I enrolled at Apicius Culinary Institute where I learned all about classic, modern, regional and non-regional cuisine and wines.
After graduating from Kent with my bachelor’s degree in hospitality management, I headed out to Montpelier, Vermont to attend New England Culinary Institute. Over the course of the two-year program, I interned and staged at restaurants such as Cleveland’s own Fire, Food and Drink under Chef Doug Katz, the two Michelin Star restaurant Manresa in Los Gatos, California with Chef David Kinch, and The Chef’s Garden vegetable farm for the culinary elite in Huron, Ohio. There I got hands on experience in growing and harvesting vegetables, which gave me a greater appreciation for seasonal ingredients, and I gained invaluable knowledge from working with chefs from all over the world at The Culinary Vegetable Institute.
I finished culinary school and decided to return to Cleveland where I worked at Chef Zack Bruell’s popular French restaurant, L’Albatros Brassiere. My next culinary endeavor was an opportunity to help open a new restaurant on Cleveland’s East Bank of the Flats called Willeyville. Opening a new restaurant was a great learning experience, because I knew I eventually wanted to start a culinary business of my own in Cleveland.
Even when I was working in restaurants, I would occasionally do catering on the side, and, over time, I became busier with new and regular clients. I realized that catering was a creative outlet for my culinary skills, allowing me to interact directly with my customers and experiment with all sorts of different menus. The seed was planted and the Rustic Radish was born!