Welcome to our series Secret Weapons & Hidden Gems, a photo series where we highlight the most impressive staff in the restaurant industry. From bar backs to beverage directors, hosts to line cooks, meet the people making your favorite restaurants run like well-oiled machines.
Where did you grow up? What were your early food memories like? I grew up in Queens Village, New York. I was always nosing around my mom in the kitchen. I always helped make dinner, especially holiday dinners. When we were making our large holiday dinners, we would be prepping days in advance. My mom was never a huge baker, but she’ll always be the number 1 cook, to me.
How did you get started in the food industry? The beauty store I was working at was closing, and I ended up becoming a barista at Sugar Sweet Sunshine Bakery in the LES. My first-ever food job! My first restaurant job was at Balthazar Bakery, and that was an eye opener for sure.
When was the moment you knew this was the profession for you? Honestly? When I bought my first pair of kitchen clogs. I’d already been working as a baker for Robicelli’s for quite a while when I finally could get a pair. I’d been working in running sneakers, which just isn’t good. When I first put on the clogs, I felt like a goddamn professional. I worked faster, reacted better—I was just more comfortable. When you get suited up, you get ready to work.
What is the best part of your job? Nothing I like more than looking at finished product. The candy we make is so beautiful, and tastes so good! You can’t wait for the treats to go out and find happy homes. We make people happy.
What’s the hardest or worst part? Since there are so many food reality shows out there that take place in kitchens, I think most people get how long our hours are. Making candy certainly isn’t dainty; I’ve got numerous burns to prove it. And then you have the usual – back pain, knee pain, just being plain old tired. It’s a physical job!
What do you think about when you’re working? Oh man. Well, when we’re not all talking or listening to music…bills and errands. What I’m making for dinner. Honestly, I feel like most of my thoughts surround money, food in general and what I’m going to eat next.
What do you wish people knew about you and your work? Maybe something that gets frequently misunderstood? Caramel is not taffy. Caramel has milk/cream in it, taffy doesn’t. I’m simplifying a lot here, but that’s something people ask about A LOT.