About me My wife Peg (my high school sweetheart) and I recently bought VistaVino Modern Grill in Castle Rock. We have five kids between us, two still in college. Of the other three, one is a teacher, …
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My wife Peg (my high school sweetheart) and I recently bought VistaVino Modern Grill in Castle Rock. We have five kids between us, two still in college. Of the other three, one is a teacher, one is in marketing and one is a financial advisor. We live in Lone Tree and are hoping to move closer to the restaurant by the end of the year. I am a chef and have been for 25 years. You can see the list of where on LinkedIn if you want. But for the highlights, I opened Paris Las Vegas, ran the meat and production division for years and then went to MGM International as the meat division purchasing manager.
Needless to say, I'm a meat guy. In my early years, I had a restaurant in Phoenix and a catering company called the Traveling Chef. Also spent some years as a country club chef and corporate chef for both Shamrock in the '90s and, most recently, Sysco before buying the restaurant, both as a meat category expert.
My journey to culinary arts
I'm not sure why I'm passionate about cooking and food in general, I can only say that it's been one of the most consistent things in my life. Food to me is so much more than a meal. How did I land in this career? I was walking across the main campus at Michigan State in November, the year 1985, with my best friend at the time. He said he withdrew from classes and enrolled in a school that teaches you how to be a chef and my head almost exploded — not like a lightbulb going off — more like a doorway opening of bright light with a force pushing me that way. It was the ONLY way I should go, so I did. We went together and were roommates in year two at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, Class of `88.
Food by the numbers
I was hired to be the assistant executive chef at Paris Las Vegas. My role was to open the butcher shop where we cut all of the portions for the whole hotel, and then to incorporate the other properties as we acclimated to the increased volume. We opened Paris in September 1999. By October, I was cutting the meat at Paris for them, Bally's Caesar's Palace, The Flamingo and the Las Vegas Hilton. That's 100,000 pounds of meat and seafood weekly managed by yours truly and 12 butchers at Paris. We bought, stored, cut, packaged and distributed to all five properties, 52 restaurants in all.
Then by March of 2000, I was asked to be the corporate production chef, so I then ran that kitchen, in addition to the meat division. That's where we made soups, stocks, sauces, stews and roasts for the properties. We made clam chowder in 500-gallon batches — but 10,000 gallons total production run — by using all the kettles at once and in succession. I did this for six years. This was by far the most fun I've had at a job. Not because of Vegas, but because they listened to me, trusted my expertise and it paid off for us all.
Just for fun
My wife and I love to go outdoors and explore. We like to visit the farms of our suppliers. We love to be on the water, or on the shore and adore the sound of a running stream or river. Fishing, hiking, our kids, cooking, eating out, reading and movies.
Cook with love. Stay humble. If you wouldn't eat it, don't try to serve it. And last but not least, FLAVOR, COLOR, TEXTURE — in that order.
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