Rise & Grind

I stumbled into building a career with food by accident. I'd be lying if I said cooking was always a passion of mine or that I’ve been dreaming of this line of work since I flipped my first pancake as a kid. This all seemed to happen very suddenly for me. One thing I’ve always wanted to be is an artist, whatever the hell that means. As I’ve grown older, I realized that my true desire was to start little creative projects for myself, do my work, show it to people and hope they like it, all while paying rent at the same time. 

I got my first job at the age of 15 when I worked at a local chain joint that served fast-casual Mexican-American fare. Similar to a chipotle but far worse. That was my first job. After that, there was always some sort of part time gig in my life that required a food handler’s license.

Tossing wings at sixteen and sneaking a few beers from the walk-in atChickinen Bonz. Scrubbing Sweet & Sour Pork off porcelain plates at seventeen as a dishwasher at “House of Good Fortune.” By nineteen I had spent enough years in food service to finally realize that in order to get any decent job in any industry it’s in your best interest to lie on your resume. This idea was introduced to me by an interesting character that used to frequent a coffee shop I worked at in Hollywood. Let’s call him Dan. 

Dan used to come in a lot, order a twenty ounce cup of drip and make friends with anyone around him. He was a tall charismatic fellow with a thick Hoboken accent that smelled like Mellow American Spirits and Colombian Dark roast. He looked a bit worn for being in his forties but his charm was youthful. Everybody seemed to like the guys and his well-told anecdotes. I worked in the twenty square foot kitchen in the back which could hardly house the fridge, food processor and panini press. I never got to interact with Dave because I was stuck in my little cave slapping together peanut butter acai bowls or croissants with bacon, eggs and cheese.

One day I was sitting out in the lounge, reading a set of sides for an audition. Dan came up to me and said something funny so we spoke for a bit. The dude was cool as hell and helped me work on the scens. I needed to learn an east coast accent for the role so Dan became an unexpected dialect coach.

I didn't book the part at all which meant I needed to keep my job at the coffee spot. Dan continued coming by. He’d get a free cup of coffee from my coworkers & I in exchange for some laughs. One day he asked me point blank “What the hell are ya doin’ workin’ at a dump like this?” To be fair, this coffee shop was in fact a dump. Dan worked as the bar manager at an upscale hotel restaurant in the heart of The Sunset strip. He told me he could get me a job there and start making some real money. He showed me pictures of the venue. It was a sexy spot with orchids blooming, polished marble tables and gold trim. There was no way in hell he could land me a job there. I was a nineteen year old who thought Outback steakhouse was the pinnacle of fine dining and had no knowledge of food or wine. He told me to lie on my resume. Figure it out as I go. Listen and learn. Take the opportunity. Damn, am I happy I did it. That job was where I began to discover my love for food.


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