Beyond the cuisine, I stay inspired by the people I work with. Teaching new cooks, learning from seasoned chefs, and watching a seamless front-of-house team interact with guests are all daily occurring, and inspiring moments that make me proud of what I do.
Like so many, I entered into this career because I loved to cook and the lifestyle was a natural fit for me. It didn’t take long to realize that in order to be great, I had to work for great chefs. The education and skills I’ve gained coming out of kitchens like Providence, Tailor, A Voce Columbus Circle, Lincoln Ristorante and now Casey’s at Casa Apicii, were a direct result of patience and a love of cuisine.
Great chefs never stop learning. It is important to dine out, visit local markets and farms, ask questions, read consistently –and this doesn’t mean buying cookbooks for the recipes and pictures, truly absorb everything from cover to cover– and always taste your food.
As cooks, perhaps the most important thing we can do is taste our mise en place. If you don’t know the level of quality in how everything tastes, how can you serve it to your guests?
I strongly believe that surrounding yourself with great educators and technicians is a key strategy to constantly progressing in one’s career. Missy Robbins, Jonathan Benno, and Sam Mason have been important figures in helping shape how I cook and manage my team. Each of these chefs has imparted their own influence on me, and I aspire to take all the lessons I’ve learned and create my own unique style of cuisine and teach the next generation of great cooks.
All cooks should own a culinary library, even if it’s a small one. I believe everyone should own Culinary Artistry by Dornenburg and Page, a time tested reference, and The French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller, one of the greatest guides.
As someone who is particularly passionate about cooking Italian food, here are a few from a list of amazing chefs for technique and composition: Encyclopedia of Pasta by Zanini de Vita, SPQR by Accarrino, and Mastering Pasta by Vetri.
Stay at a restaurant at least a year. Nothing significant is gained in less time.
Throughout my career, my mentors taught me that integrity and attention to detail are the most important. With regards to integrity, holding true to the pursuit of perfection and carrying one’s self as a professional are lessons that need to be reinforced on a daily basis. Attention to detail covers a broad range. Seek only the best ingredients, apply consistent technique, and never take the easy way out. These are simple ideas that can get lost when not managed. This always begins with the chef.
Italian food in Italy is very localized, I get excited to use different ingredients and techniques pulled from across the country. Italians are passionate, and the art is expressive. I often look to their influences to stay motivated in the kitchen.