Alumni Spotlight Archive
Executive Chef for Brookfield Zoo. As the Executive Chef of the zoo, I cater approximately 75 weddings, 2,000 picnics as well as corporate meetings. I also help the food and beverage manager design menus and hire staff for the park’s concessions stands.
1983 graduate of Triton. A.A.S. degree/HIA.
I am proud of being a graduate of Triton. I didn’t have a lot of money for my education so I joined the Navy where I spent three years and was able to save enough money to attend college. I started taking remedial classes at Triton since my English wasn’t that good. I moved onto their hospitality program where I established the foundation for my career. After Triton, I went back to the Navy and prepared meals for foreign dignitaries. I’ve had the honor of preparing meals for princesses as well as President Bush.
What would you describe as your strong suit?
I love what I do. I am capable of switching gears between manager and teacher. I can deal with students who are learning to become chefs, act as their coach and eventually get them to the next level of their career.
What have been some obstacles you've had to overcome in pursuit of your educational and career goals?
We all encounter obstacles. If you apply yourself 100%, you can accomplish anything. When I started high school, I didn’t speak English well, so I took remedial courses at Triton that helped me immensely.
What has served as a source of inspiration both in your career and in your life?
My inspiration comes from the Captain of the USS Enterprise who was my mentor. I worked directly under him and admired him greatly. If I ever needed his advice or assistance, he would first say “Do something about your problem before you ask for help.” The moral of the story is sit down and think about your issue and come armed with a potential solution before you ask for help.
How has Triton College impacted your life?
Triton has impacted my life in many different ways. First of all, it was the college that stood by me when no other college would. Triton accepted me even though I had low grades graduating from high school. Through Triton, I was able to take remedial classes to bring me to a level where I could keep up with my peers. Triton is where I received a culinary education that has brought me to the level where I am today. Triton will always be a special place to me. To this day, I look to Chef Jerome to provide me with students who can work at Brookfield Zoo. About 70% of my staff comes from Triton.
What advice would you give to someone who would like to pursue a career in your field?
You need to be passionate about cooking. It’s not an easy profession as it demands long hours and hot working conditions. In the long run you will be rewarded, but it takes time. You need to enjoy providing customer service. It is not like the cooking shows on TV. You need to give back a lot and earn your respect.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Cook for my wife and two daughters.
What do you enjoy cooking the most?
Mediterranean and Caribbean cuisine.