What inspired you to become a chef?
At an early age, I grew up watching my dad cook and was always helping out in the kitchen. From something as simple as stirring, grabbing ingredients or throwing ingredients into the wok or just setting up the table, it was always fun when it came to kitchen time. I guess after just being around the kitchen so much growing up, it just felt natural and everything came natural when in a professional kitchen. I started working professionally in 1995 in a small mom-and-pop Japanese restaurant on University across from The Swamp as their resident dishwasher. I loved it and hated it at the same time, just because you can end up super soaking wet by the end of the night. So, I knew I had to learn other things so I could improve my skill set. I started doing sushi, and ever since, I fell in love.
What’s the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is being able to work with many different characters and to be able to teach and also learn from future leaders and culinary artists. It’s also great to be in an industry that requires me to keep honing on my skill. Knowledge is endless and so is cooking.
What is your specialty cuisine?
Japanese cuisine, for sure — from sushi to comfort Japanese cooking.
What sets you apart from other chefs?
Not much, we all (as in chefs) have the same lifestyle. We work long hours, we grind together and we celebrate together. Work hard, play hard, as they say.
What can you bring to the Taste of Gainesville competition?
A different style and cuisine. And also representing Dragonfly — people think all I know is sushi and can’t cook.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
That one of my favorite sushi rolls is a California roll.