Faces of Long Island celebrates the uniqueness of everyday Long Islanders. In their own words, they tell us about their life experiences, challenges and triumphs. Newsday launched this social media journey into the human experience to shine a light on the diverse people of this wonderful place we call home.

‘Growing up in my parents’ restaurant, you take in everything, helping out in every way.’

Glen Cove

“Growing up in my parents’ restaurant, El Tazumal in Glen Cove, you take in everything, helping out in every way. The food is Salvadorian staples, pupusas, eggs, plantains. Everything is homemade.

“My parents came here in 1977 or 1978, they were from the countryside and they had land, but it got taken away from them when the war began and it got dangerous.

“Both my grandmas were awesome cooks. I learned the basics from them, soups and stocks. They would make a lot of different cuts of meats that not everyone eats, beef’s tongue or pig’s feet, but it was so good.

“My parents’ business is mostly a to-go business, serving Salvadorians immigrants who often don’t have kitchens, so I know how to expedite the food and get it out. At 19, I left my parents’ restaurant, and got a job in an assisted living facility working mostly with frozen and canned stuff, but I learned a lot of ingredients and basic recipes.

“Then I started working at busy French and Italian restaurants on the weekend. I’ve been cooking for 20 years, and I learned a lot from Long Island being multicultural and all the great chefs I worked with.

‘Do you want to cook for the rest of your life or do you want to be a chef?’

“I worked at Prime in Huntington for years, started as a cook, and Chef Gregg Lauletta asked me, ‘Do you want to cook for the rest of your life or do you want to be a chef?’ He was kind of mentoring me, made me sous-chef and from there, I went to other restaurants and then to Tellers Chophouse in Islip.

“Waterzooi opened a new place in Port Washington and they hired me as the new chef de cuisine and we were doing really well for the first two months and then COVID happened. I’ve been working six days a week, doubles through the pandemic, doing to-go orders, and outdoor dining. Waterzooi is a Belgian bistro. The signature dish is a Belgian fish, we sell tons of mussels and lobsters.

“Chefs would come to me for the plating. I love colors, so I’m always daydreaming about colors and dishes. I learned a lot from the chefs I worked with, people who didn’t look anything up. They just knew it. But the creativity is all me.”

‘Working with dogs has taught me to calm down, be present, and live in the moment.’

Glen Cove

“My ex and I had a dachshund and we inadvertently created a monster out of her. She constantly had to be near me. We thought it was adorable, but we created a lot of separation anxiety in her. She wasn’t able to healthily cope on her own so I wanted to fix the problem. That was why I started researching and taking classes, which eventually led to training. I tried every tool imaginable on her. Fast forward to two years later and my new puppy, Dylan, was scared of everything. He didn’t want anybody to come up to him. Like most people, I thought, ‘I just want a dog to love.’ But when you think about how most people love an animal- giving food, treats, affection…none of that worked with Dylan. He wanted his space. It was a real wake up call for me.

Just as there’s a hierarchy in our world, there’s a hierarchy in their world too. Very often we don’t respect their space; then we expect them to listen to us and respect ours.

“When dealing with a fearful dog you can do more harm than good. I started out doing the typical positive-only training. It evolved from there because I realized that doesn’t always work. Loving any animal is broken down into relationships. People need to establish leadership with the dog, building trust, respecting the dog’s space, having them respect their space, having clear consistent rules, boundaries, and routines. I focus on the relationship portion of training. I owe that to Dylan because twelve years later, my little old man has come out of his shell and he will go up to people wagging his tail. He is good friends with Odee, my Hurricane Sandy rescue. I am a better trainer because of Dylan. I’m proud of where he is now. Since my training journey began I have spent a week working with Cesar Millan on his ranch. He taught me not to force relationships with dogs. Just as there’s a hierarchy in our world, there’s a hierarchy in their world too. Very often we don’t respect their space; then we expect them to listen to us and respect ours.

“Working with dogs has taught me to calm down, be present, and live in the moment. That helps give them the leadership they need from me. It has taught me to be more confident. People follow unstable leaders; dogs don’t. Dogs take work. It’s our world and we brought them into it, so we have to teach them how to navigate that.”

‘No matter what the economy does, dogs never stop pooping.’

Glen Cove

“I had a tire shop in Glen Cove and I was looking to do something else. I was getting bored. I was at my friend’s house and his wife came outside with antipasti and stepped in a big pile of dog poo and started gagging. I thought there might be something here.

“I started researching and bouncing ideas off people at the tire shop. Half of them said there’s no way anybody is going to pay you to pick up dog poop. The other said if there’s anybody that’s going to make money with dog poop, it’s you. And 20 years later, here we are.

“We have business opportunities across the U.S. and in the UK. I’ve been sought after for reality shows from three different networks. We wrote a screenplay and sat down with Adam Sandler. They loved the concept, but the timing was off. I was in his movie, “The Week Of.” I played a fat Italian at a Jewish wedding. With this business, you have to have a great sense of humor. You have to embrace it.

It’s like anything, if you follow through and do what you say, you’re going to succeed.

“The first week we decided to form the business, I had 10 customers. It’s like anything, if you follow through and do what you say, you’re going to succeed. Hard work pays off. No matter what the economy does, dogs never stop pooping. Which dog poops the most; you have any idea? It’s the Boxer. You can’t even imagine.

“We’ve been in rooms with brain surgeons, big celebrities. They’ll be talking to me and I’ll be like, ‘I’m the king of poop,’ and they go crazy. They don’t care about the brain surgeon anymore. I’d love to do more reality TV. I saw a Facebook post: ‘Do you have a cool car and unique story?’ So I said, ‘I have an orange dune buggy and I’m the king of poop.’

“The phone rang the next day! Next thing you know, they’re flying me to California. It was for a show called “Sticker Shock.” I met so many cool people. Animal Planet approached me, A&E, History Channel, but reality TV started going the other way because of COVID. Timing is everything. Sooner or later, one of the networks is going to pull the trigger. King of Poop TV is my YouTube channel. We have three videos called Dung Dynasty. You’re gonna go nuts. I have another channel called Jimbo’s Raccoons. I got 50 raccoons in my backyard. I can’t get a dog. They’ll go crazy. I got two cats.”