“I actually started in the front-of-the-house when I was 14, bussing tables and working my way up in the industry. I continued through college, trying to figure out what to do with my life, and then I thought, ‘Wait a second, I think I’m actually doing it,’ because this is what I enjoy. Fundamentally, making people happy is how I derive the most satisfaction, and the best way I know how to do that is through food. I figured this was my calling.”
“In my early twenties, I was a sommelier and managing a restaurant, but I realized that I was going to want a restaurant of my own someday so that I could invite people into my house. I recognized that GMs and Sommeliers don’t typically open restaurants – it’s usually Chefs – so I had to learn how to do that. I dropped my career in the front-of-the-house and started back at the bottom washing dishes, cleaning greens, and working my way back up in the back-of-the-house.”
“Eventually I ended up at this place called McCrady’s in Charleston. My friend who was an intern there was like, ‘You should check this place out.’ So I walked in and the clouds parted – there was something very truly special going on in that kitchen. They had all the modern techniques mastered, but also had this strong sense of history and culture, and a tremendous pride in the historical relevance of their cuisine. In my estimation, it was the best restaurant in the country at that point in time.
“After I spent quite some time there, I came to North Carolina to visit some family and fell in love with it. There’s so much great agriculture so close; it was the access to all this incredible produce and other ingredients that other areas just don’t have. I said, ‘so… this is the place for me.’”