I was born in Point Pleasant, N.J., lived in Toms River for seven years, and then moved to East Brunswick, where I grew up. Having relatives who owned restaurants, I loved to visit the kitchens
Head Chef and Owner
Since the beginning
At the age of 10, I started washing dishes at Periwinkle’s, a French restaurant my uncle co-owned in Sea Bright, on the New Jersey shore. I was eventually promoted to preparing vegetables and starches for all the a la carte meals. Shortly thereafter, I became a line cook, learning the art of French cuisine during summers throughout junior high and high school
Mastering My Craft
During high school, I became a banquet cook at the Hyatt New Brunswick, learning how to put on big parties and events. I then worked at La Fontana, an Italian restaurant in New Brunswick, N.J., before going on to Johnson and Wales University in Providence, R.I., where I earned an associate’s degree in culinary arts and then was part of the world’s first graduating class to earn a bachelor’s degree in culinary management; world-renowned chef Emeril Lagasse took classes with us and received an honorary degree.
Making a name for myself
I was selected for a management internship at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., as an executive chef at Akershus, the restaurant in the Norwegian pavilion at Disney’s Epcot Center. In my senior year, I served an internship with the French Master Chef Philippe Boulet at the four-star Heathman Hotel in Portland, Ore.
Upon graduation, I worked as an executive chef for some small restaurants and then moved to the corporate world, working at Merck Group’s world headquarters in Whitehouse Station, N.J. At Merck’s production plant in Rahway, N.J., we served 5,000 people a day, working from three main kitchens and two satellite kitchens.
Staring my own Journey
I then opened a pair of New Jersey pizzerias named Mama DaVinci’s, which I ran for six years. I employed 35 people, including many from Elijah’s Promise, a New Brunswick soup kitchen with a job training program.
I returned to corporate dining as director of operations at a Chinese boarding school in Princeton, N.J., before ultimately opening The Daily Gourmet in Millstone Township, N.J., in 2019, serving high end food at neighborhood prices, for dining in and takeout as well as catering.