Nutrition Wonderland would like to introduce you to a new column we will be featuring from time to time on the website called, Tony the Chef. A long time friend, Tony will be sharing his thoughts to help you understand what the world of food looks like from the inside of a busy commercial kitchen. The column will feature insights into the considerations chef must make to his customers – and to his bosses, what kind of factor money has on the ingredients he uses, the interplay of corporations and food politics and, most importantly, his famous recipes. Below, the Chef says hello – maybe you should say hello back.
My love for food has always been around. As a child, I logged many hours in the kitchen with my mother. It was often that playtime was forfeited to inquire what she was whipping up for supper. Of course, after a while, I picked up a few things and later on in my teen years, I got a chance to flex my culinary muscle. As dear mom was moved to the night shift at her place of employment, I took over the responsibilities of creating an evening meal for my father and me. Most of the time, I would just try to recreate or improve upon my mother’s recipes. Occasionally, I felt brave enough to experiment with my own and this was such a delight! There were disasters, sure; however, that’s what cooking and life, really, are all about. You will not know success without a few failures here and there. So, I continued to cook throughout high school and then I graduated. Now what?
I was accepted to the University of Texas in Austin. I had no idea what I wanted to accomplish there. All I knew is that all of my best friends were going to UT and attending a University was something my parents wanted for me. I went and I tried to find something I could “deal” with for the rest of my life. The idea of being stationary at a desk for a long period of time was a little frightening for me. I found nothing and to everyone’s surprise I dropped out of U.T. – with all its glory – and enrolled in classes at the Texas Culinary Academy (a Le Cordon Bleu program) just up the road in Austin. You see, food, cooking and being a chef, was what I wanted to do all along. It was a decision that I have not regretted since.
I completed culinary school with flying colors and landed my first cooking job at the Sheraton Resort in Steamboat Springs, CO as part of my school’s externship program. The program only lasted three months but I decided to stay and work for three years. In that time, I worked hard and was promoted quickly from an entry-level cook all the way to Sous Chef. I had certainly found my niche. During this time, it was an eccentric, but respected, old friend that turned me on to food awareness and what happens to my food before it hits the plate. The information that I’ve learned from this gentlemen really opened my eyes so much that I have changed my lifestyle and I have joined his side to help deliver the message to unsuspecting consumers so that we can get food back to how nature intended – real.
My love for Colorado was superseded by true love for a woman so I came back to Texas to be with her. Blissfully, the current chapter of my live takes us to Dallas. I am the Chef de Cuisine for the Westin City Center Dallas in downtown. I oversee the restaurant there, 650 North. Since speaking with the gentleman above in Colorado, I have seen a few unrelated changes; people are becoming aware of what they are eating. Vendors are eliminating harmful products in their food and corporations are starting to offer their customers more of a choice. Me, I push to offer only the best ingredients and I like the direction in which food is going. Still, the actions are on a very small scale and there is much to be done.
I love being a chef. I feel a real connection between my purpose in life and food. I like how it has the power to appeal to so many people, and I enjoy preparing it so that it is appealing to them. Food most certainly sustains life. It should not take life away. Please take the time to view this site and revisit often.