“I was born in Spokane in 1980. My mother, Debbie was an elementary school teacher. My dad, John was an engineer and worked odd jobs to fill the gaps. Their hard work and commitment to family are the reason I get up every day. I have two older sisters, two step-brothers and two step-sisters. I am an Uncle to ten. I am blessed to be married with a daughter and four sons. With the few hours that are left after the restaurant, I try to be a good Son, Husband, Father, Uncle and friend. It is not easy to maintain all of these things but the more I put in, the more I get back. My only goal is to make life better for those around me.
I got started in the hospitality business in 1997, working as a host, a busser and various fast food jobs. From there, I started working as a line cook at Chevy’s Fresh Mex. I fell in love with the heat, the intensity and the chaos of the kitchen. I moved to Seattle in the winter of 2001, just before the birth of my first son, Angelus. I worked at a few bars before landing at The Icon Grill and Nordstrom for several years. It was at the Icon, under Chefs Nick Musser and Jim Fina, I learned how to organize my space and time efficiently and to be aware of the big picture.
After the passing of my son Elliott in 2005, I lost my love, my job, and my mind. I returned home to Spokane to put together the shattered pieces of my life. I had many struggles finding and keeping a job that was a fit for me.
After stints at Downriver Grill, Italian Kitchen, Rock City, C.I. Shenanigans and several bars and odd jobs, I got a call from my old chef Jim. He offered me my first Sous Chef job at Cactus, on Alki Beach in West Seattle. We opened in August of 2007. I spent two years there, honing my craft, and rocking out a metric butt ton of Mexican food.
I returned to a home, I swore I never would, in 2009 after the birth of my third son, Ethayn. I worked as Sous Chef at Ella’s supper club, an exhibition chef at the Ramada for Chef Katie Freeman. All the while, my drinking and my ability to work effectively were spiraling out of control. I was unable to keep a job or be a Dad to my boys. After returning to Shenanigans as a struggling line cook, I found myself homeless and falling fast. I reunited with my son’s mother, Rebecca. We rented a shitty house on the east side, struggling to make ends meet. We had another boy, John, in May of 2010. Rebecca became the love of my life, all I wanted to do was make our family complete. We were married the following year, in March.
By that summer, my health was diminishing. My drinking was a dawn to dusk commitment. I could only work a few hours a day, before withdrawals would shut me down. I was a shell of myself in the kitchen. I was mean to my kids and wife. My liver was failing, and I hated myself.
Rebecca was patient with me, as she found the help I needed to get healthy. I went to detox, then rehab for a month. It’s been a long road, but I haven’t had a sip since.
I began to rebuild my life, once again. I took a job as a line cook for Tana Rekofke at Vintages@611. I quickly took control of that kitchen and was made Chef the same year. Working there taught me to be a little softer and start focusing on being a leader, by serving others. After an ownership change, my time there was over and my heart broken, again.
Not knowing what direction to go, I studied Hotel and Restaurant Management, at Spokane Community College. I worked as line cook, then Chef, at another South Hill spot. The owner was out of business the same year.
Desperate, and wanting to do something meaningful, I set out to find the right place to settle in. A chance meeting with an old friend, led me to Clover, in 2013. I fell in love, all over again. The possibilities were endless. Clover had everything.
I was almost a year into my stint, I was sure I was being fired. Instead, I was promoted to Sous Chef and Interim Chef for the first nine months, while they searched for an Executive Chef. They found the best there is. Chef Travis Dickenson came to Clover in August of 2014 and changed everything I thought I knew. He fine-tuned my skills and taught me what I was missing. He passed to me his food knowledge, management skills and passion for the food again. He showed me how to juggle the cost of operating with our high quality and high standards. His humble approach made it easy for our entire staff to transform our way of thinking and push our mission statement to the forefront.
In 2017, Chef Travis left to start his own restaurant, Cochinito, with our General Manager, Justin Curtis. Promoted to Chef, I was given the privilege of my career, running the best restaurant in town. I was left with the biggest shoes to fill, but I have help. I would be nowhere without my crew. My Sous Chef, Kory Schimanski, has been with me since my Vintages@611 days. Our amazing Brunch program, Is run by Wade Hampton. Wade and I have spent our careers together, since 1999. Our whole house is built on the back of our Prep Lead, Cameron Flemmer. Cam has been with me for over eight years.