My Native Admission Statement: There is no greater privilege in life than to be a person who is free to be exactly who they are, and no greater responsibility as a leader than to allow others to do the same. I am both the beneficiary of that freedom, and a wholehearted supporter of creating the very same opportunity for those around me. While I am a chef by choice, definition and trade, I am also an equally devoted husband, father, team mate and friend. There is nothing stereotypical about my team in terms of appearance or behavior in the kitchen. We work together because we all share common bonds: hard work, dedication, honesty, respect for one another, a sense of community and the joy of creativity. No matter what you do or who you are, we would all do well to remember that we are only as good as those that surround and support us. The more time we invest in the care of our families, colleagues and communities, the more we all stand to gain. I love working on a team and I love working with food…everything else is just fluff.
How did you get into the industry?
I grew up in Little Rock, but I was always drawn to the natural beauty of rural Arkansas— the geography varies widely with mountains, river valleys, forests, lakes and bayous.An innate curiosity of cooking, a connection to local ingredients and where our food came from was always a part of my childhood. My father worked in finance during the week, but was also an avid outdoorsman on nights and weekends. As a result, I was surrounded by wild game and fish, and my parents were both good cooks as their mothers had been before them. This inherently led me to cooking, first in restaurants during high school where I found myself thriving on the energy of a busy service — ithad an almost addictive quality. After High School, I headed for college at the University of Arkansas, with plans for becoming an engineer. While at school, I came to learn that my heart just wasn’t in that line of study, so I turned back to what has been my lifelong passion…cooking.