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.

‘I had a vision of my grandfather over my bed saying, “Wake up.” I remember getting up and running outside and having a panic attack.’

Oyster Bay

“The first club I ever went to was on Long Island. I met a couple of friends who were promoters that started to rent out nightclubs. That’s how I was able to DJ. After 9/11, things changed so drastically in nightlife; nobody wanted to go to the city anymore.

“Around then, one night I saw Emeril Lagasse go ‘Bam!’ on TV. It made me realize how I could connect and lead people instead of DJing — by feeding them — and both my grandfathers were chefs. I’m named after my grandfather who was a chef.

“I went to the French Culinary Institute, which is hands down the most legendary culinary school in the world. I was able to learn from one of the greatest French chefs in the world, Jacques Pépin. He taught us a lot when it came to the journey of food.

“After school, I realized that I can’t be a chef. It’s very hard work. It’s very brutal. I got into a dark place until I had an epiphany. On a cold winter day, something came over to me, and it was a vision of my grandfather over my bed saying, ‘Wake up.’ He was like, ‘Get up, do something.’ I remember getting up and running outside and having a panic attack.

I want the world to believe in themselves.

“Lo and behold, something in my mind said, ‘Do sauces. Do your sauces and sell them, and do farmers markets.’ Once I figured that out, it was boom, boom, boom. I met someone who taught me how to make hummus, and it transitioned to making hummuses.

“We built it up. There were a lot of trials and tribulations. There were times that I went broke, but that’s what makes you a better man, I have come to realize. Then I was able to get to the bigger farmers markets on Long Island. Once I got into the Hamptons and Montauk, I met the right people. I learned about organic cooking.

“I applied to my licenses with the Department of Agriculture to be in the food-processing business. I got approved on the anniversary of my grandfather’s death. To me, that’s when who I am now was born.

“I feel that like my grandfather could have done a lot with his career in his life with being a chef, but he didn’t. I could’ve worked at a restaurant, but I took this road into the unknown.

“I want the world to believe in themselves. I want everyone to feel like beautiful stars. I always say, ‘The worst day of your life could be the best day of your life.’”