Tell us about your role:
As the Culinary Liaison my main focus is bridging the gap between the culinary education and retail sides of Coltivare (the teaching kitchen and the professional restaurant). This may include the transfer of ingredients or food items produced by the students for use by the restaurant or the banquet department. Our aim is to highlight the achievements of our students while instilling a sense of pride in them that what they produce is up to or above the standard practices of a working food service facility. Given that my job is to connect both sides of the culinary center, I spend ample time with the students as an adjunct while also working in the working restaurant production kitchen. This allows me to be more effective in coordinating food ordering and purchasing in conjunction with the restaurant chefs and culinary program adjuncts.
How did you come to join the Coltivare team?
Being new to the area (I’m originally from New Orleans, Louisiana although I spent the last 12 years in my second home of Houston, Texas), I was seeking an opportunity to grow in the right establishment. I first landed a job in the restaurant as a line cook, and during my 3 month trial period, an adjunct position opened on the educational side. I applied, and since I had extensive experience in restaurants along with a degree from the Culinary Institute of America, the position was a perfect fit, allowing me to teach while also continuing my own culinary education.
From my perspective, Coltivare and Tompkins Cortland Community College both embody the culinarian’s dream of utilizing as many as local ingredients as possible. Being surrounded by dozens of local farms supported by a committed community is one of the best feelings one can have. Working here not only allows me to fully immerse myself in something I deeply care about—cooking and eating as local as possible—it also allows me to develop into a better chef while helping others to to the same. I also get to do some creole cooking and extend my love of the cuisine to others.
Favorite feature of the Finger Lakes region?
The Cayuga and Seneca Lake wine trails, Buttermilk Falls, Taughannock Falls, and all local independent farms!
Favorite kind of food?
Food grown and made with love is always my favorite!!