Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?
I’ve always had a passion for cooking. When I was 13 I spent my summer vacation washing dishes at my uncle’s Italian restaurant. I was fascinated by how he prepared all these intriguing, delicious dishes. Two years later, I started a culinary apprentice in Switzerland.
How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?
I always combine the basic techniques with real-life examples from my experience as an executive chef. We end each class with a recap of techniques and cooking methods, then apply them to a situation in a restaurant kitchen. It helps students understand what’s expected of them once they graduate.
What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?
In my Senior Culinary Practicum Class, I show students the final product, then work backwards and explain the steps it takes to get there. I don’t like to hand them all the answers on a silver platter; I want them to think for themselves.
How does collaboration contribute to students’ success—particularly when students from various programs work together?
Teamwork is absolutely essential. In my Senior Culinary Practicum, I engage students from Photography, Graphic & Web Design, and Interior Design to create a menu, do the marketing, and design a kitchen and dining room layout. It’s a great way for students to see the big picture.
What’s the most important thing you impart to students to help them succeed in class and the real world?
Always be humble, learn as much as you can, and be open to others’ ideas.
What’s the most critical advice you would offer any student embarking on a creative career?
Never say that something is impossible. See every challenge as a new opportunity for you to grow even more.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I firmly believe that partnering with international schools is very valuable for our students in terms of broadening their experience.