‘I’m jokingly known as the guitar-playing chef.’
“I began as a dishwasher and busboy making money so I could go out with friends. I kept at it and moved up the ranks. I was working as a waiter at Carlyle on the Green when I complained about how the kitchen needed more organization and systematic approaches. The owner liked it, so he made me a kitchen manager. It was a great learning experience.
Life’s a pendulum. You go back and forth, and somewhere in the middle is where you find happiness.
“One day, my friend said they needed someone at the restaurant where he worked because a cook had quit; they needed someone on the line. I did it and loved it, which led me to the culinary side. Then I became a kitchen manager at the New Hyde Park Inn. I was always going back and forth with types of kitchen jobs. It’s a brutal industry, but it’s also the most rewarding because you get to pursue your passion and creativity. I decided I wanted to move to something more sustainable so I’d have free time. I was playing the guitar alone at night because my schedule didn’t allow me to be in a band. I took on temp work at Northwell Health and worked as hard as I could. Within a month, they offered me a full-time job as a chef!
“I was finally able to play with other musicians. My friends and I started a band called Sound Creation Station. We play psychedelic rock and jazz/funk/fusion. It’s great that I can pursue both cooking and music. I think everybody’s purpose in this world is to create something positive. I love that I get to do that with food and help people in the hospital. The best part of the day for somebody recovering is when they get something that’s nutritious and looks beautiful.
“Playing music helps people find understanding and meaning. I’m jokingly known as the guitar-playing chef. I get right out of work and onstage, often around the corner from Huntington Hospital. I’ll be wearing my chef coat while I play bass guitar. It used to be difficult for me to accept failure, but it’s a critical part of learning. You have to fall before you can rise. Haters are your best critics. Take what they’re saying, try to better yourself and find something you can’t wait to do each day. I’m always excited to go to work. Life’s a pendulum. You go back and forth, and somewhere in the middle is where you find happiness.”
Interviewed by Iris Wiener