MS: What made you want to be what you are now?
PA: I dreamed of being a chef, traveler, and adventurer for a long time.
I was fascinated with food and wine since I was a teenager. After being in athletics most of my life and attaining a business degree in Michigan, my sports days were over and I wasn’t going to play professional soccer. I also didn’t want to live in Michigan (where I was born and raised) and work for the automotive companies.
My mother grabbed an application at a restaurant and told me to go to work when I was 15 years old at Mac & Rays restaurant. After that, I knew that cooking was my real passion and so my journey of culinary discovery began! This brought me to Miami where I attended Johnson & Wales University, gaining a culinary degree.
I love to create, and I love to take my visions and accomplish them. I also love to be around people. I love to work in high stress environments. I submerged myself in the industry working at many restaurants, hotels and private clubs. My goal was to gain as much experience and diversity as possible. My most memorable experience was an internship in Croatia. I spent 6 glorious months in Europe working, traveling and eating my way through various countries and cultures!
Since working as a private/personal chef I can be creative with my cuisine and get back to my roots, which is Italian/Mediterranean. I travel to Europe at least once a year to work with private clients as well as enjoy time with my family. I am always inspired by new recipes.
Over the years I had the privilege of working with some great chefs like: Michelle Bernstein (Azul, Mandarin Oriental, Miami), Eric Ripert (Le Bernadin, NYC) and Michel Roux (Celebrity Cruise lines, London). They taught me to have discipline, work hard, and to look at food in another way. During my time working at Casa Casuarina (Versace Mansion), I had the opportunity of cooking for many celebrity members such as Madonna, Sara Ferguson and Will Smith.
Though, unforgettably, I also had the opportunity to cook for Penelope Cruz at her wedding in the Bahamas at David Copperfield’s private island Musha Cay.
MS: What is your favorite food-related memory?
PA: Omg I have so many! But top three are:
1. Being a young chef while traveling in Spain eating sea bass and talking to famous chefs sitting at the same table.
2. The other hands down, was taking Anthony Bourdain to the “deuce” in Miami Beach drinking until 4 in the morning!
3. Another was eating in Croatia with family and friends grilling fresh sardines out of the Adriatic Sea.
MS: What are your short-term and long-term goals at the moment?PA: Short term is to keep the catering side of the business steady, meanwhile maintaining diversity of clients, and to continue meal prepping. Long term is to reach mass markets, go viral with television cooking series and demonstrations, and to create an original food product to sell.
Though, there’s a saying in Italian: “Il mio sogno nel cassetto.” which translates to: “the dream in my drawer.” You keep one dream locked up until it’s the right time to take it out… Mine is to eventually have a little place of my own, somewhere with enough land to grow my own food. Ultimately, I want to cook for people and make them feel at home and happy. The love of food and eating amazing meals keeps me going!
MS: What is something you wish you knew in the beginning?
PA: To trust the process more and don’t rush to become successful. There will be many failures on the road. Learn as much as you can and work for many different chefs, and travel to experience new cultures.
MS: Can you talk about your high status clientele?
PA: If I told you I would have to kill you…only kidding, I have to sign a lot of Non Disclosure Agreements in my line of work so I can’t really discuss my clientele. I would say I had the privilege to cook for some pretty amazing people, including musicians like Harry Styles and political figures like Hillary Clinton. My current client is definitely one of the top celebrities of the moment and a really wonderful person. Discretion is key in my line of work.
MS: What is something you wish people learned or knew more about in your industry?
PA: That it is not as glamorous as it seems. While everyone parties or enjoys holiday, chefs work nonstop on weekends and through holidays.
MS: Do you have advice or encouragement for ways to support local?
PA: Yes. Try not to think as local artisanal vendors as more expensive than larger grocery stores, but as is you are getting higher quality food sources that outweigh the end result. Try not to think as local artisanal vendors as more expensive, but as a means of higher quality food for overall health. I prefer to shop for organic produce and natural foods in order to maximize the quality of my food.
Diet and nutrition is so important. I want to teach people that diets are bad and that living a normal lifestyle, focusing on the variation and moderation of good food, is the KEY to life!
As an Ironman finisher and an avid health and fitness aficionado, I understand the importance of giving the body the fuel it needs through nutrition and a balanced diet. I take pride in the food I put on people's plates. I cultivate relationships with farmers and markets in the area for the freshest, most unique, seasonal produce.
My cuisine is driven by a passion for great quality, fresh ingredients and delicious yet healthy dishes, which reflect my commitment to originality and the celebration of taste.
Though, what sets me apart from others is my personality and charisma in the kitchen. I treat everyone as if they were in my own home and providing everyone with a warm meal.