After serving a total of four years on the USS Nashville LPD-13, I decided to enter into the Religious Specialist Program in Meridian, Mississippi. Upon graduating with honors I was stationed to the Naval Station Pascagoula in Pascagoula, Mississippi. There, I was able to act as a liaison between religious and community agencies for graphic design, safeguarding and depositing religious offering funds, ordering, and recieiving all of the supplies for the department. I also provided administrative support when necessary.
Although I did not have a Chaplain within my first year at the Naval Station Pascagoula, I worked independently and successfully maintained the religious program. As recognition for my services, I was commended as "Sailor of the Quarter."
Along with maintaining the Religious Program, I also hosted and oversaw the National Prayer Breakfast for the command. This consisted of a full breakfast that was served to over a thousand naval personnel and civilians.
After being honorarily discharged from the military, I graduated from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College with two Associate of Arts degrees within Accounting and Business Management.
I am the type of person that loves to learn and expand my knowledge through education. I wanted to expand my expertise with the culinary arts, so I graduated from Virginia College's Culinary Arts program with an Associate of Arts in Culinary Art and Baking and Confectionary Art.
While I was pursuing my degree at Virginia College's Culinary Arts Program, I decided to begin my culinary career by working at Panera Bread. You have to start somewhere right? After working hard as an associate, I was promoted into a manager role where I was given the opportunity to work within baking operations. I knew that this was going to be the start of an amazing journey. In this role, I worked in different locations within the Birmingham and Tuscaloosa areas and trained new bakers and General Managers on different baking processes.
After working with Panera Bread for three years, I accepted a job with Crestline Bagel Company where I learned how to craft quality bagels from scratch. The process was so fascinating, because it was from five simple ingredients: flour, sugar, salt, yeast & water. It's amazing what you can create from such simplicity.
Then, the opportunity arrived. In December 2010, I received a call from Steve Moore from the Arlington Antebellum House about interviewing to be their Executive Chef. I was so excited to interview with them and after speaking with Steve about the position, he offered me the job that same day.
The Arlington Antebellum House and Gardens is the oldest house in Birmingham, Alabama. It was built in 1845 by William Mudd in Elyton which predates what is now Birmingham. What is beautiful about this house is that it was built Its built in antebellum Greek revival style architecture. The City of Birmingham bought the property and it is located on about 6 acres. Today, it is used as a museum and a place to host events. I loved working there.
I supervised and coordinated all related culinary activities at Arlington including: breakfast and brunches, luncheons and dinners, weddings and private parties. In addition to overseeing Arlington’s food service program, I also supervised catering functions for the Mayor of Birmingham and other high-profile clientele. I planned and developed new menu items continuously to clients, which allowed me to touch deeper into my creative culinary mind.
During my time at Arlington Antebellum Home and Gardens I was featured several times in the Birmingham News City Scene and had the pleasure to cook live on ABC 33/40’s "Talk of Alabama" show. A cool highlight is that I have also had the opportunity to cook for prestigious celebrities such as Niki Manaj and The Real House Wives of Atlanta.
While at Arlington, I partnered with Culinard at Virginia College to initiate an externship program where I taught and employed young qualified chefs. These chefs went through a 3-month program that included production, inventory and cost control, sanitation and menu development. At the end of the program they had to plan and execute their own menu, which was an enlightening and fun process. That was from developing the recipes to speaking with the guest about their dishes. In addition to teaching interns I also served on the advisory board for the college for many years so I could provide expert knowledge to enthusiastic students.