What was your first memory of cooking and what did you cook?
After school, I would make Chocolate Pudding from the box with my grandma. She also always had an afternoon pot of Coffee.
What is a knife you cannot live without?
10 inch Wusthof Knife – It’s the all-purpose of purpose knives. It can cut Bones, veggies, filet fish, etc.
What is one ingredient you cannot cook without?
Salt – primarily. Sherry vinegar- I can use it in everything, sauces, stews, etc. Also lemon juice.
What was one of the biggest mistakes you made your first year in the culinary industry?
Thinking I knew everything and taking the whole thing way to seriously. Made me realize it’s meant to be an enjoyable experience.
When did you know you wanted to become a chef?
13 or 14- My Dad owned a liquor store and my mom would work until 10 pm every night. My Mom also went back to college to finish her degree and worked a full-time job with 3 kids.
I started taking on cooking for myself and my siblings. It started with the easy-to-make meals, pre-made and I would get bored with ready-to-eat meals and wanted to learn to do more and started liking it.
What led to your role at The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa’s Sante Restaurant?
I was working in NY. When my wife and I came out to California it was during Mustard season and all the mustard flowers were blooming in fields. It was beautiful. I had dinner at Sante and started speaking with the server, Brian Casey who now is our Beverage Manager. We had great conversations about potential suppliers and products that were here on hand, etc.
I felt like there was more to Sonoma than meets the surface and looked like an onion that I was slowly peeling layers back by seeing the culture and getting to know the people. I was peeling back the layers of Sonoma.
What are you most excited about currently on the menu? Any dishes coming soon?
Currently: The dry-aged duck. We work with local products. Liberty Duck. They rewrote their plan to accommodate dry-aging ducks in their traditional meat dry-aging space. They currently du 7 days of dry aging. This creates a lot of moisture, dry-aged flavor. We will definitely keep this dish on and change garnishes seasonally
New Dish: Working on a new Risotto or Pasta. It will have Squid Ink Tagliolini and Sea Urchin ( sourced from Fort Bragg or Monterey ) butter. The Sea Urchin in butter form is a nice way to get the sea Urchin flavor, not as confrontational as eating it raw.
For those who have not dined at Sante Restaurant, how would you best describe it?
Santé Restaurant is a Celebration of Sonoma County. It was an amazing wine list. We want it to be a place to celebrate every day, whether it’s just a Tuesday or a 10 year Anniversary.
Can you share more about some of the purveyor’s you partner with?
The Patch – Heirloom Tomatoes. We use these for breakfast, beefsteak tomatoes, tomato salads for lunch.
Corsini Gourmet – Really great Lamb supplier
Who has been the most influential mentor/chef in your career?
Logan Campbell – Head Chef of the high-end Lucio’s Italian Restaurant in Australia. It’s an Iconic Restaurant. He was more of a tough-love guy and he taught me a lot. Incredibly talented Chef. He really knew how to run a kitchen, it was admirable.
What is your favorite after work drink?
On Tuesday’s it has become more of a tradition to have Tacos & Gloria Champagne with my wife.
On my Friday’s I enjoy a Double Negroni
As a Sonoma local, what is your favorite local spot when you’re not at work?
Valley Bar & Bottle – It’s a great spot. A lot of winemakers and industry people go there. Killer wine list, super relaxed vibe, delicious food flavors.
Tell us something that would surprise people about you?
Bit of a side hustle of selling Vinyl Records – During Covid I Bought and sold about 10k. On my day off you can find me hanging out at the record store. I have a pretty good collection going home.