Who has been your biggest career influence?
Chef Charlie Trotter, now deceased, was the biggest motivator throughout my career, and I still use many elements of his philosophy today. He was one of the most difficult human beings to ever work for and prided himself on being the meanest person in Chicago. Even though he had the biggest heart in the world, he always wanted to play the tough guy. He started his own restaurant in his twenties and quickly rose to one of the nation's best restaurant and held it there for 25 years. The only way he was able to do this was to constantly push his culinary and service team to strive for excellence and never settle for the status quo. He would always say, "Some say, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. I say, if it ain't broke, turn it on it's head, scramble it up and make it even better than it was. That's what we do at Charlie Totter's."