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 leaving Meridian, Mississippi I was sent to Norfolk, VA and Stationed aboard the USS Nashville LPD-13. It was an amphibious transport dock, meaning it had the ability to ballast down into the water. The back of the ship opened up and transport craft drove in and out of it carrying people and vehicles to shore. It also had a landing pad that helicopters could land on and refuel. I did two tours to the Mediterranean on her then I decided to stay in another term and change my rate.
After serving four years on board the USS Nashville LPD-13, I entered the Religious Specialist Program. I was sent back to Meridian, Mississippi, to be trained in this field. After graduating with honors I was stationed to Naval Station Pascagoula in Pascagoula, Mississippi. Some of my duties there included maintaining a liaison with religious and community agencies, graphic design, safeguarding and depositing religious offering funds, ordering and receiving all supplies for the department, contracting civilian personnel, records management, clerical, and administration work.
When I first arrived at Naval Station Pascagoula I was without a Chaplain. I worked independently for over a year, maintaining the command religious program, for this I was commended as "Sailor of the Quarter."
Before leaving the military with an honorable discharge, I graduated from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College receiving two Associates of Arts degrees in accounting and business management and was inducted into the business honor society. While in the business honor society I entered an international competition for business plan writing and won.
After leaving the military on the 12th of December 2004 I enrolled in Virginia College’s Culinary Arts program graduating with Associate of Arts degrees both in Culinary Art and Baking and Confectionery Art.
During those three years going to Virginia college; I was employed by Panera Bread Company as an associate. I quickly worked my way to a management role.
After gathering experience in management I was offered a position in bakery operations. I worked in various locations in the Birmingham and Tuscaloosa areas training new bakers and General Managers on the baking process.
After working with Panera Bread for three years, I took employment at Crestline Bagel Company and starting learning to make bagels from scratch. The process is very fascinating where from five simple ingredients; flour, sugar, salt, yeast & water you can transform it into something wonderful!
In April of 2008 I received a phone call from Chef Tom Haddin and was offered employment with the Capstone Village in Tuscaloosa, AL. as their Pastry Chef. While at Capstone Village; I worked independently managing all pastry production. This included production for the main dining hall, the assisted living hall and the dementia wards; paying close attention to the patient’s special diets. I also planned and carried out all recipe development, ordering, and inventory control for the pastry department.
After leaving Capstone Village in 2009 I took employment with Bama Dining at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, AL as a pastry chef for Bama Dining’s catering department. I conducted all pastry production for the catering department. This included ESPN, stadium sky boxes, University President’s Mansion and all private functions throughout the University of Alabama.
While employed with the catering department I opened and maintained a new retail pastry and confections outlet at the University of Alabama’s Fergusion Center. It served items such as fudge, cakes, pies, and ice cream to name a few.
Six months later, I was promoted to lead pastry chef and moved to the Lakeside Facility to carry out all regular production of pastry and confections to area food outlets. This included cafeteria style dining for students as well as retail outlets.
December 2010, I received a call from Steve Moode from Arlington Antebellum House and Gardens in Birmingham, AL. They were in need of an executive chef and wanted to know if I would interview for the position. After talking to Steve I was hired that day.
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. Its built in antebellum Greek revival style architecture. The City of Birmingham bought the property; which is about 6 acres, in 1953. Today it is used as a museum and a place to host events.
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 off premises as well as other clients. I planned and developed new menu items continuously to clients, establishing pricing and managing food and labor cost.
During my time at Arlington Antebellum Home and Gardens I have been featured several times in the Birmingham News City Scene and have cooked live on ABC 33/40’s Talk of Alabama show. I have also cooked for celebrities to include: Niki Manaj and
The Real House Wives of Atlanta.
While at Arlington, I partnered with Culinard at Virginia College and initiated an externship program where I taught and employed young chefs. The chefs went through a 3 month program that included: production, inventory and cost control, sanitation and menu development. The chefs planned and executed their own menu. This is from developing the recipes to speaking with the guest about their dishes. In addition to teaching interns I served on the advisory board for the college for many years.
After being employed with the City of Birmingham for 6 years; I took employment with AVI Food Systems for Honda Manufacturing of Alabama. As Executive Chef, I directed nearly eighty employees spanned across three separate locations. Honda Manufacturing employs over 1500 employees and offers breakfast, lunch and dinner to each one. There are two lines that produce cars. There is also a separate line that produces only engines. On each one of those lines is a separate “cafeteria style” food line that offers the employees many different options to include: A deli station, quick grill, pizzas, meat and three, healthy choice, salad bar and grab and go options. In addition to feeding the associates of Honda, catering options were offered both on premises and off to the Honda Training Facility. On several occasions I cooked Japanese style cuisine for the corporate executives.
August of 2016 I left Honda to return to the restaurant scene, employed as Sous Chef of Babalu Tapas and Tacos in Birmingham’s Lakeview District. Under direction of Executive Chef Eric Bartholomew I managed the kitchens of Babalu to include lunch and dinner and catering functions both on and off premises. One of my highlights at Babalu was planning and leading the Valentines Wine Dinner; 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. Birmingham Southern College, a private college, was founded in 1856. As Chef Manager I managed BSC’s cafeteria style kitchens, quick service outlet and retail outlets; feeding more than 1200 students, faculty and guest breakfast, lunch and dinner, seven days a week. While at BSC I created and coordinated a grab & go program that stretches across three Bon appetite accounts to include Birmingham Southern College, The University of Alabama Athletics and Protective Life Insurance.