Did your family cook when you were a child? If so, what meals stand out? My mom is an awesome cook. I'd hang out in the kitchen and watch as a child. Steak Diane was my favorite dish.
How old were you when you started cooking? I started working in kitchens at the age of nineteen.
What was your first kitchen job? Although I worked at my dad and uncle's deli, Duff's was my first actual restaurant job.
Did you attend culinary school or college? I attended SLU, where I received my undergrad in Communications and attended Johnson & Wales in Vail, Colorado, in 1996.
What do you eat? I eat everything. Korean barbecue is probably my favorite when I'm on the west coast.
We'd be most surprised that you eat _____. I love the slinger at Eat-Rite.
What do you cook at home? I mostly fire up the grill at the house. I love a good steak.
Local chef who most impresses you? Jimmy Voss from Duff's. He gave me my first real restaurant job. He is passionate about food. Kevin Nashan [Sidney Street Café] is incredibly talented. I had one of the best meals ever there recently.
Favorite restaurants elsewhere? French Laundry in Napa, Boulevard in San Francisco, Tony's Sushi in Miami.
Your favorite food city? San Francisco.
Favorite recent food find? I love Vietnamese sandwiches.
Most essential ingredient in your kitchen? Big-eye tuna. Tuna is the benchmark of any good sushi bar.
Favorite local ingredient and where you get it? Not too many local ingredients. Most things are imported from Japan.
Five words to describe your food? Fresh, creative, bold, unique and delicious.
One food you dislike. Nato (fermented soybean).
One food you can't live without. Cheese. I love all types.
What's the first rule for your kitchen staff? Make sure your knife is sharp before you start the shift.
What ingredient will never be allowed in your kitchen? Escolar. Most places sell it as "white tuna," which it's not. It was banned from both Japan and Italy in the '80s.
Culinarily speaking, St. Louis has the best _______. Little non-chain mom-and-pop restaurants.
Culinarily speaking, St. Louis has the worst _______. Nothing comes to mind.
Culinarily speaking, St. Louis needs more _______. Good Mexican restaurants.