How I got to Reel Club:
I grew up inspired by the legacy of my mother and grandmother. They worked in the kitchen of the distinguished Peabody Hotel in Memphis, creating flavorful dishes steeped in American tradition. While still in high school, my first cooking job was at The Flamingo Restaurant, one of the best where we then lived, in Muncie, Indiana. I enjoyed my experience so much that I enrolled in the Culinary Institute of Chicago.
After graduating, I worked my way up to sous-chef at The 95th in the John Hancock Center on the Magnificent Mile. In 1992, I joined Maggiano's Little Italy, famous for its delicious, homey Italian cooking. Over time, I was appointed Maggiano’s Vice President of Culinary Operations. Our team opened 36 Maggiano's restaurants all over the country. It was then that I had the opportunity to travel the world. Tasting food in major cities, such as in the U.S., France, and Italy, my imagination was broadened by a world of rich flavors and new techniques.
In 2005, seeking a more individualized expression of my work, I happily returned to Lettuce Entertain You. I began by developing Northbrook Center’s Di Pescara (which I also oversee), but you can usually meet me in my role as the Executive Chef at the Michelin recommended Reel Club in the Oakbrook Center.
My Philosophy as a Chef:
With 25 years of culinary exploration, my philosophy as a Chef is taking a clean, honest, and fresh approach to food. With the environment in mind, at Reel Club we make it a point to work with as many sustainable fisheries and local farms as possible.
Last year, I journeyed to Alaska and worked for a week near the Arctic Circle with king-crab fishing crews as they hauled in their harvest. I have tremendous respect for those seamen who overcome the enormous difficulties of their job, and take pride in providing our guests with products that I know are caught in a well-regulated environment.
Having established a personal relationship with these mariners, I know first-hand that our Alaskan king crab is the best and freshest we can buy. The same holds true for all our seafood. At Reel Club, I personally approve freshness and quality of every fish that our trusted purveyors deliver to my kitchen door.
My goal at Reel Club is to continue searching for the most sustainable and delicious fresh products I can fillet and prepare for you, all the while keeping our dishes original. I constantly troll for deeper understanding of seafood by searching out new resources.
In my travels, I have learned that there are no “laws” restricting cooking. Open-mindedness and experience bring unexpected pleasures from experimenting with new methods and ingredients that further our preferred style of simple elegance in seafood dining. Putting a twist on every dish gives our restaurant a refreshing style. I invite you to visit and taste our efforts for yourself.