September 23, 2019
I’ve been in the hospitality industry for over twenty years. I love what I do. Otherwise, I would have been doing something else more lucrative a long time ago because there’s not a lot of money in it. But I’ve got a passion for this, and I say: stick with those things you’re passionate about.
I have worked in a lot of different capacities in hospitality; mostly as a chef in food production, but also as a bartender, general manager of a restaurant and working at hotels. I think everyone’s past experiences influence their daily lives, work lives, and outside lives. So definitely my career, and my career journey has influenced everything I do. Which in turn, that affects how I am and how I work at Fresh Food Generation.
I’m the calm guy when everyone else is in a panic, I’m the one keeping it cool, not without a level of concern or feeling a sense of urgency but being calm can help everyone level off and from going too far. I think that’s one of the things I bring.
That is a big question, but not too big. I like to eat when I get hungry, but I think learning to cook is a life skill that is kind of becoming a little bit lost. I’ve always been cooking and have always had an interest in it. I knew from very early on that this was the path that I was going to be on.
My dad’s father was a chef but passed away when I was young, about age two or three. I never got to know him or be around him that much, but I feel he was an inspiration for me. Seeing pictures of him in the kitchen, and just hearing the stories from family and friends about how good of a chef he was; and how they rave about his food even ten years after he’s gone inspired me.
I do have a memory probably one of the first Christmas’ I can remember; he’d made a gingerbread house and I ate it and I just remember how good it was. That was probably one of my first inspirations.
Both of my parents are really good home cooks and my family is from the Caribbean so eating and cooking and preparing food is a huge part of our culture, and my mom encouraged my interest in cooking. We used to watch a lot of cooking shows on PBS on the weekends and that was kind of the thing we used to do together. Watching Julia Child and all those old PBS shows were big influences.
People need food to nourish themselves to maintain health and strength. But there is also a social impact or this thing about food where it can bring People together, but there is also a dark side to it too. If one guys hungry and the other guy has a lot and doesn’t share that can create strife. Having food or not having food can be problematic so there’s a lot of interest in anthropological interest surrounding food as well.
Struggle, passion and solutions. I chose struggle because Fresh Food Generation is not this big profit-oriented business model. We’re doing what we’re doing because we’re trying to make a difference— make a difference in people’s lives, help those who really need access to better food.
The other part of the “struggle” is the struggle of startup businesses and everything that goes with that and the entrepreneurial spirit. It’s not a path for the faint of heart. You see a lot of people either washed out or fail because they are not aware of how much really goes into it so that’s the struggle.
The solution part is multifaceted too, because every day we are faced with a challenge, a problem a struggle and you have to be focused and stay focused on finding solutions. As opposed to focusing on the problem. Obviously, you have to look the problem in the face, but at the same time you can’t be so focused on the problem that you miss out on finding on a good solution or even a temporary one. Sometimes temporary solutions can be important too.
The exploitative nature that is very prevalent in that industry. A lot of people are called to that industry, however, there’s a lot of exploitation there. It’s definitely dominated by workers who may come from a lower socio-economic or immigrant background, who are thought of as unskilled laborers, and that could not be further from the truth. I think changing that dynamic and changing people’s perception of what it is and the work that people do in the service industry and of what our value is, would be the number one thing that I would change.
It changed everything and it really works perfectly with the Farm to Plate model. Starting that process of thinking about food more and realizing you can cook, you know how to run a kitchen, you can follow recipes or create a recipe, and can be creative in the kitchen – that’s a process in itself. Learning how to manage people, and use ingredients. Then I started realizing I didn’t know as much about food as I thought.
That was a huge part – learning how to grow my own food and getting some education on that from the Urban Farming Institute. I like to tell people that I kind of closed the loop on my food education, because there are a lot of cooks, chefs and people who are involved in food service that could really benefit from learning about how to produce food from agriculture and horticulture.
You have a greater respect and appreciation for the work that happens before you get the product, you understand more, and it makes you think about waste more. I never liked to waste food before but now that I farm, I’m even more conscious about the amount of work that goes into it, and it really does inform your process. Eating farm fresh food gave me a better understanding of what I need to do or what I don’t need to do to food to make it taste good.
When it’s fresh, when you just pick it off the tree, when it’s fresh off the stock and you use it within a twenty four hours or a forty eight hour period, it just makes such a huge difference in terms of freshness; which is part of the company’s model and the number one factor in creating food that tastes good. I would like to see us as a company move towards a net zero style of cooking where nothing goes to waste and where just about everything can be used to make something else .
I want them to know that this truly is my passion and there are other things that I could be doing— more lucrative things that I could be doing to make money; but I just want them to taste and experience my passion— the food passion, and hopefully that caring comes through.
I would probably have to say my favorite song is “War” by Bob Marley and one of my favorite food centric songs or a song that when it plays in the kitchen it kind of gives me a boost is “Raid The Barn” by Anthony B. I just love the song and the lyrics, it says ‘Nobody wants to plant the corn, but everybody wants to raise the barn.’ I don’t know why, but it resonates with me.
Beach on a sunny day. An amazing meal. Fishing, I’m always in a good mood when I have a fishing rod in my hand.
My favorite thing to eat? God, I love french fries! Oh my god, shoestring fries, steak fries, but I am also a huge fan of Polenta or cornmeal.
I put that on everything. I’m Caribbean and pineapple is one of my favorite fruits. Pineapples can definitely go on pizza among other things. One of my favorites — or I guess my signature dish is Ceviche. I put mangoes and pineapples in my Ceviche.