Fast forward to 2003 and the Food Network craze...I had worked for high-tech companies in Silicon Valley and at the time I was working for a start-up which lost their funding, and I found myself unemployed for the first time in many years. I had a number of options, but in reflecting on my passion for food, I decided to go to culinary school and see where it would take me. I enrolled in Tante Marie's Cooking School in San Francisco, which focused on mastering the techniques of classical French cooking and in the Spring of 2004, I landed my first job in a restaurant as a prep cook and then a line cook. You have no idea what it is like to go from working in an 8-5 office environment to working the line in a fast-paced kitchen. But I loved it. Everything I learned about food, ingredients, flavors, techniques and presentation came from working in the restaurant. It was incredibly hard work, long hours, low pay, but I worked my way up the kitchen ranks and by 2008, I was the Chef de Cuisine running the entire kitchen operations. During this time I also went back to school and became a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers. Studying wine was probably the most fascinating and complicated subject that I've ever learned in my life.
But then everything changed in the Fall of 2008, the hotel property that housed our restaurant sold the property to new owners. They offered me the Executive Chef position, but I declined because my heart was not with their new concept and how they wanted to run the restaurant. Also, this was the start of the "great recession", and high-unemployment and so I thought that it would be a great time to take some time off, get healthy and recharge my batteries. While working as a chef, I was probably not the healthiest person--I had gained 25 pounds, never had time to exercise, and burned the candle at both ends as the saying goes. So I researched and read everything that I could get my hands on about eating a healthy diet and it all pointed to adopting a plant-based diet and eliminating all forms of animal proteins, fish, dairy and eggs.
So in 2009, I switched to a vegan diet, and it was the best decision I ever made! I can't believe that I ever ate any other way. I miss nothing about eating animal proteins and I am a chef. Since switching my diet, my weight dropped 25 pounds, my cholesterol dropped 40 points and my blood pressure dropped significantly as well! And I've never felt or looked better! I also love the challenge of cooking without animal proteins. It has opened up a whole new world of ingredients and cuisines that I probably would of never tried!
I sometimes dream of owing my own vegan restaurant or cafe and serving delicious and healthy vegan cuisine; unfortunately, this is not possible. However, I'd love for you to join me and my Sous Chef, Cocoabean (pictured below) for dinner anytime in my home kitchen and I hope that you will!