Owner, Taste Buds
2006 Culinary Arts Graduate
What is your current position and where are you working?
Owner of Taste Buds – manage all aspects of owning and running a personal chef and personal instruction company. Menu planning, shopping, prepping, cooking, accounts payable and receivable. Dana has provided private chef service for professional athletes from the Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago Cubs, Phoenix Coyotes, Paul Pierce of the Boston Celtics and celebrities such as Pamela Anderson.
Corporate Chef for Subzero & Wolf – works as a showroom and event chef. Menu planning, shopping, prep, cook and serve on at the showroom and on stage. I have to have knowledge of the appliances to demonstrate for potential homeowners and understand how foods cook in each appliance. I am also assisting in writing a cookbook for Wolf. Working at Subzero & Wolf has given me the opportunity to cook on stage with Karla Hall, Govind Armstrong, Ian Hall, Martin Yan and our local celebrity chef Jan Di Atri had me cook on her television show. Responsibility for that is having the pose, confidence and knowledge of cooking to convey what you are doing for others to understand and relate.
What advice would you give potential students wanting to begin an education at SCC Culinary?
Advice I would give is to go in with a clear and open mind. Go to culinary school to change your life for the better. Listen to the instructors and be as professional in school as you will be in the industry after you graduate. Don’t be afraid to learn.
How did your education at SCC Culinary prepare you for the foodservice industry?
The chefs at SCC taught me how to plan and prepare to cook for others. They gave me the knowledge and skills to create menus that make sense, understand food and labor costs, how to calculate portions, timing and execution. Timing of food is very important. I also learned the history of dishes, how to prepare them from complete scratch. There are so many things SCC did for me that I could write a book about them.
What is your best memory from SCC Culinary?
My best memory is having many memories that I reflect upon quite often. Cooking for the first time on the hot line for dinner service was crazy and nerve-racking as time is so important. I was thrilled to actually be able to do it. Parade of Desserts is always a big high as you show off your skills to the dining room patrons and they have such great expression of happiness in anticipation of enjoying them. I had a great time working the charity event at the Wrigley Mansion and having access to all kitchen areas and hidden nooks and places a typical visitor is not allowed to see. My other memories are of the laughter and fun we had cooking together, becoming friends with the other students and chefs and bonding as a class. I truly miss going to school at SCC Culinary.
What was the most valuable thing you learned from SCC Culinary?
The best employees are the honest ones who really do care to do their best. Communication is so very important as well. So the trait I look for is good communication with a genuine desire to work.
What is your favorite dish/food to make?
I have many favorite dishes so it is tough to pick just one. I create most of my own recipes. My banana leaf pockets are awesome filled with seafood, veggies, fresh ginger and herbs as well as feta and prosciutto then tied up in a pocket and steamed or grilled. The banana leaf imparts a great flavor and steams the food inside. Served with coconut rice and my spiced rum mango avocado salsa. I also have my Secret Sauce that I sell. It goes with everything and is quite addictive. It is especially great on pork tenderloin or grilled salmon. I see myself in the kitchen in 5 years and in 25 years. I prefer private cooking and giving cooking lessons. One thing about cooking is that you can do it until your very last day on earth. You can move anywhere in the world and get a job cooking for others. Remember that!