“I just met George [Porter, Jr.] at Dos Jefes. I was sitting there with one of my good friends and he was all drunk and it was his birthday and he was like, ‘Play some Meters!’ And I’m not lying, but two seconds later George Porter walks in through the front door. My jaw dropped. ‘You’ve got to be kidding me…’ And my friend went, ‘Hey, that’s George right there!’
One of my favorite drinks to have—besides a whiskey sour—is a margarita with beer. I like a salt rim, but I don’t follow the salt around. I take a sip and then go back to that same spot. A little salt is enough. It’s the same in my cooking. I love to use acid and sugar and hot, instead of a lot of salt. I use fish sauce and soy sauce a lot; I go to Hong Kong Market and stock up. I make sure it doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup or caramel color or all of this extra stuff. I’ll sit there on the soy sauce aisle for 30 minutes just comparing each one.
Why do I do the bar and the kitchen? Well, because I can. One night, we were slammed in the bar so I came out in my chef coat and started mixing drinks. The next day, this guy calls and I happened to pick up the phone and he says, ‘We were there last night with a ten-top, and we want to come back tonight! The chef was making drinks…’ ‘Yes, hello, that’s me. How are you today?’
I started bartending when I got tired of working the hot line every night and scrubbing the floors until two in the morning while the bartenders all went out and had fun. This was after four years of culinary school… But nobody gave me a job. Nobody wanted a chef-bartender. They didn’t even want to talk to me. So I never got to do it, but here [at Annunciation] I can.
I went to De La Salle High School. Worked in an Italian restaurant over the summer, loved it and decided to drop out. At that time, I lived on Jackson Avenue and Prytania, and at Prytania and St. Charles, there used to be a culinary school called the Culinary Institute of New Orleans. I went up there with my dad and talked to the headmaster, and then I was in culinary school. Later, my dad got me to apply to the CIA [Culinary Institute of America]. Cool thing about the CIA is that they teach you cocktails too. They teach you wine and coffee and Italian food and French food… It’s everything. It’s being a restaurant person, and that’s my whole mentality. I don’t want to be a cook. I don’t want to be a server. I don’t want to be a bartender. I want to be a restaurant person, and one day I want to have my own restaurant.”