Title: Executive chef at Horseshoe Tunica Hotel and Casino and Tunica Roadhouse Casino & Hotel
Hometown: Savannah, Ga.
Who or what was your first cooking influence? My mother. My family was in the shipping supply business in the port of Savannah. My father would bring home the captains of these ships quite frequently to dinner and mom would have to cook whatever was local for them. He’d say, “I’m bringing a Norwegian captain home.” Or “I’m bringing an Italian captain.”
Also, as a young man, I worked on a plantation in Central, Ga. The ladies that would cook for us would cook stuff from the garden. All fresh and traditional Southern fare. That and my mother were probably the two biggest influences.
What was the first thing you ever cooked or baked? In college, I took a job as a cook at a steak house to make money. Probably the first thing I ever cooked were steaks and prime rib. A lot of game. In high school, we did venison roast, but until I was probably 18 or 19, that is when I started actually cooking.
When did you decide to become a chef? I had been cooking. I had a second job as a chef at a seafood restaurant in Savannah and decided I was going to give up the shipping supply business and focus on this and become a chef. I went to work at the Boca Raton Resort and Club (under) Walter Scheib, who later became executive chef at the White House.
Have you ever cooked for a celebrity? Margaret Thatcher. Gulfstream Aerospace; I was executive chef there. We had picked Margaret Thatcher up in Dallas, Texas, and were flying her back to England and put a jet at her disposal. We did typical burritos, empanadas, sopaipillas, just quick things. ... She was happy with it. The thing I liked about her, she actually took a few moments to speak to me and she didn’t have to. It was more than “Thank you very much.” She was genuinely interested and carried on a nice conversation.
What do you cook at home, if anything? Steak and potatoes is probably my favorite. And I love fresh seafood.
What is your favorite food? Right now, it’s Thai cuisine.
What’s your least favorite food? I’m not real big on salmon, other than smoked salmon. I’m not big on the flavor.
Horseshoe Tunica Hotel and Casino is at 1021 Casino Center Drive, Tunica, Miss.; 1-800- 303-7463; and Tunica Roadhouse Casino & Hotel is at 1107 Casino Center Drive, Tunica; 662-363-4900