When did you first start cooking? Tell us a bit about your culinary journey before The Melting Pot.
I have worked as a chef for more than 25 years; I started working in restaurants when I was only 13 years old. I graduated at the top of my class from the French Culinary Institute in New York City and also studied industrial design at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA. I previously served as an executive chef and partner at The Capital Grille’s largest restaurant on Wall Street in New York City, which has more than 450 seats. I also spent time as Ludacris’s personal chef for nearly two years. I’ve had the privilege of working alongside celebrity chef David Burke for more than 10 years collaborating on culinary development and operations for a variety of restaurant concepts within the David Burke Group and Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group.
You joined The Melting Pot family in 2014. What did you hope to achieve when you started as Executive Chef?
As a manager of culinary development for The Melting Pot Restaurants, Inc., I knew I would be responsible for the successful development, testing and implementation of new menu items and product improvements within the franchise. Fondue is a new concept in my career, and I saw it as a challenge that would be extremely fun. I have always loved fondue and all it entails. There are very few limits to fondue. I have set out to create recipes using new ingredients and rework classic recipes as well. I strive to create novel and exciting recipes for guests to try when they come into The Melting Pot. It’s all about the experience at The Melting Pot and that’s the way I intend to keep it.
2015 marked your 40th anniversary, how did you celebrate?
The Melting Pot celebrated its 40th Anniversary with a limited-edition ruby anniversary menu and some awesome throwback cocktails from the last four decades. We had this special menu available for a limited time through November, so it was a great opportunity to try some old-time favorites transformed into fondue, like the Limited Edition Molten Lava Fondue, Ruby Salad, a 1980’s style Mudslide cocktail, and a 1990’s style Cosmokazi.
What is your proudest moment in the restaurant business thus far?
I would definitely have to say being chosen as the featured chef for an episode of the TODAY Show in New York City. Additionally, being a top-three finalist for the Executive Chef position for The White House (2005) was a very proud moment.
If you could sit down and have a meal with one chef in the world, who would that be?
With over 125 restaurants in America, Canada, Mexico, UAE and Southeast Asia, where are you hoping to expand to next?
Actually, we are in the midst of expanding out to the Middle East region. We just opened a location in Dubai, and we have a few more locations in the works. We really are working to make The Melting Pot a worldwide name.
Do you have any particular influences or role models who you aspire to?
What’s your signature order from The Melting Pot menu?
BBQ Brisket Cheddar Cheese – I created this for our Dip into Summer menu in summer 2015.
Do you have a favorite ingredient that you enjoy cooking with?
Yes, ginger. Ginger is versatile; it can be spicy, yet refreshing, sweet and rich, depending on how it’s used. It also has tons of health benefits.
Is there a specific dish you can recall from your childhood which has influenced you?
Growing up in New York City, I experienced so many different flavors, cultures and cuisines it’s too hard for me to pick just one dish. However, my top three dishes would have to be my Grandma’s pot roast, her Matzoh ball soup, and New York pizza.
The Melting Pot is one of the winners of The Culture Trip’s America Local Favorite 2016 Award. The Local Favorite badge is awarded to our favorite local towns, restaurants, artists, galleries, and everything in between. We are passionate about showcasing popular local talents on a global scale, so we have cultivated a carefully selected, but growing community.