In 1997, when I was 18 years old, I decided to enlist into the United States Navy. I was trained to work as a Ship Serviceman in Meridian, Mississippi, where I managed all of the supply departments and all of the retail operations on-board the ships and shore commands. To keep it simple, I was in charge of anything and everything that contained service and retail.
After serving my time in Meridian, Mississippi, I was transported and stationed aboard the USS Nashville LPD-13 in Norfolk, Virginia. I was able to serve two terms on the USS Nashville LPD-13 before moving onto my next step.
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.
In April of 2008, I received a phone call from Chef Tom Haddin and was offered a job with Capstone Village in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, as their Pastry Chef. There, I worked independently and managed all of the pastry production. This included production for the main dining hall, the assisted living hall and the dementia wards. It was imperative to pay close attention to the patients' special diets. I also planned and carried out all recipe development, ordering, and inventory control for the pastry department.
In 2009, it was time for my next adventure when I accepted a job with Bama Dining at the University of Alabama as their pastry chef for Bama Dining’s catering department. This was when I was able to really dive into my custom culinary creativity. I had the opportunity to craft delicious pastries for ESPN, stadium sky boxes, University President’s Mansion and all other private functions throughout the University of Alabama.
While I maintained employment as their Pastry Chef, I took the leap and opened and maintained a new retail pastry and confections outlet at the University of Alabama’s Fergusion Center. I created delectables such as fudge, cakes, pies, ice cream, and much more that will leave your mouth watering.
Six months later, I was promoted to be the lead pastry chef and moved to their Lakeside Facility to carry out all regular production of pastries and confections to area food outlets. I knew that the only way to go from there was up.
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.
After being employed with the City of Birmingham for 6 years, I moved onward to work with AVI Food Systems for Honda Manufacturing of Alabama. As their Executive Chef, I directed nearly eighty employees that were spanned across three separate locations. I was in charge of creating different culinary options for employees that worked in two separate lines. Such culinary options included a separate “cafeteria style” food line with a deli station, quick grill, pizzas, meat, a salad bar and different grab and go options. In addition to feeding the associates of Honda, I spearheaded the preparation and development of catering options to Honda Training Facilities.
On August of 2016, I left Honda to return to the restaurant scene as Sous Chef for Babalu Tapas and Tacos in Birmingham’s Lakeview District. Under the direction of Executive Chef Eric Bartholomew, I managed the kitchens to include lunch and dinner and catering functions both on and off the restaurant's location. One of my highlights at Babalu was planning and leading the Valentines Wine Dinner, which was a four-course meal paired with wines from Black Stallion Winery in Napa California.
While working at Babalu Tapas & Tacos, a chef by the name of Robert Lynn approached me one night and offered me the opportunity to work with him at Birmingham’s Birmingham Southern College under the contract of Bon Appetite Management Group. As the Chef Manager I managed BSC’s cafeteria style kitchens, quick service and retail outlets. I was in charge of feeding more than1200 students, faculty and guests breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. While at BSC I created and coordinated a grab & go program that stretched across three Bon appetite accounts that included Birmingham Southern College, The University of Alabama Athletics and Protective Life Insurance.