How did you get into the restaurant industry?
When I was younger, I wanted to either cook or do something in entertainment. In my mind, I said okay, which one can I start making money right away? Then, as I started cooking more and going to culinary school, I developed a passion for it and took it a little more seriously.
What’s your favorite part about being in the FGR Family
I like the level of inclusion. No matter what your background is, black, white, Mexican, gay, straight, bi, they have a zero tolerance policy for any intolerance. A lot of restaurants I’ve worked for, it’s always just about cooking the food and going home, and the culture in the kitchen gets carried away. If you complain they’ll tell you you’re being too sensitive. Fifth Group takes you as a person very seriously. They care about how you feel and you, mentally.
What’s your favorite dish and drink?
The Carpenter red blend and the octopus and pork lettuce wraps.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Columbus, GA until I was about 15 and then I moved to Atlanta. I have been here ever since.
What was your favorite childhood meal?
Some of my mom’s soul food. Her collard greens, and she made really good ribs and macaroni and cheese.
What’s a fun fact about you?
I’m a big time spicy person. I want to do some of those spicy challenges like the one chip challenge and the spicy noodle challenge and the habanero & California reaper peppers. I’m a glutton for that type of stuff.
What part of town do you live in?
What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not working?
I like to cook. I like to create something new. I follow a lot of blogs, and I take their recipes and create it how they envision it and then tweak it and play around with it. Alton Brown is one of my favorite chefs, and just his sheer amount of knowledge when it comes to food — how different things interact with other ingredients, why you’re doing certain things — I really admire him for that.
What’s your food related guilty pleasure?
Chocolate – anything milk chocolate. I try to stay away from it, but my sweet tooth kills me.
What’s your favorite place to visit or travel to?
Miami. If I could, I would go there frequently. It’s such a culture switch from Atlanta. People are so engaging; it’s a lot of fun. I went three years ago and one time before that.
Do you have a favorite musician?
My favorite musician is Beyonce Knowles, and I say that with pride. I used to be a big alternative rock person. I used to love Johnny Craig, but currently it’s Beyonce.
Favorite celebrity chef?
Alton Brown. Moreso for his knowledge than for his actual food. I’m really impressed by him.
What three adjectives best describe you?
Hard working, goofy and driven. I’ve been the class clown since elementary school. If a day goes by that I don’t laugh, something’s wrong, and I bring that energy into the kitchen. It’s a hard job, constantly working long hours. If you’re not having fun you can get so worn out. If you’re having a good time with your team and you can laugh together, it makes up for the fatigue you might feel.
Who inspires you most in your career?
My mom. She’s one of the most hardworking, driven people I know. She used to cook in the military. She does hair now, but seeing her always holding down a job or two and taking care of four kids by herself, I would feel bad about myself if I was in a workplace being lazy, because that’s not what I was shown growing up.
If you could invite one person to dinner, who would it be, which Fifth Group restaurant would you take him/her to and why?
I would simply love to have a conversation with the one and only Oprah Winfrey. I would want to seek life lessons from her, so I would invite Oprah Winfrey to Lure. Sit down with nice octopus and pork lettuce wraps, a nice glass of Carpenter wine and talk about life to see where I might be going wrong and how she can help me.