Vert inspiration: the farm, travels, and family.
When I was 8 years old, I would make my mom watch Martha Stewart Living (the hour-long weekend edition) with me on Sunday Mornings. This was the highlight of my week and my mom played along with me. Martha is my Julia. I loved how she did everything so perfectly and made it look so easy. After watching the show, I would want to make the recipes or have my mom cook Martha's food for dinner. She's the reason why I collect vintage silverware and can fold a fitted sheet.
I still record and watch her cooking shows. For me she sets the standard on so many recipes. Even though I don't use recipes much anymore, I know I can trust her for the ones I do need, like pie crust, or an ice cream base. Martha's philosophy of "use only the best quality and freshest ingredients" is a part of how I became the chef I am today.
I grew up on a Minnesota horse ranch and am the youngest of three. From a young age, real food was always on the table – healthy eating was that simple. My mom always instilled the importance of local and organic produce. She always paid attention to the seasonal outliers that popped up randomly in the produce section, her garden, or farm stands. She taught me to be inspired by what’s in the pantry and in season.
My mom was a total hippy, and she raised us to be independent. She made us play outside all day and we weren't allowed in the house. Growing up on the farm was a childhood dream. We had so many pets and jobs to keep us busy. We would help fix fences, bail hay, feed horses and clean stalls. This is where I learned my work ethic of no job is too big or dirty even for the boss.
We ate seasonally. We would buy sweet corn and tomatoes from our neighbor's gardens. My mom taught me how to make apple crisp from the trees in our yard. All winter long she cooked with frozen beef gifted from neighbors as payback for giving them hay from our fields.
Later in my teens my dad opened a few restaurants and I was instantly hooked on the business. I loved watching the cooks in the kitchen and stealing snacks from the walk-in. I caught on early that this was a job of passion and dedication, and one filled with many ups and downs. He has since been a guide and mentor for my own restaurant.
Once I got to college, got the travel bug. I spent as much time abroad in Europe as my college would allow. I figured out if I majored in art history, the excuse to have to see the masterpieces for myself was an easy sell to my parents and advisor. I fell involve with all the flavors, traditions and regional delicacies. I loved making the foods I tried on my travels and really fell in love with cooking and wanted to learn more. After graduation I moved to Paris to learn the basics and become a chef.
These early life lessons and my passion for global traditions in healthy eating influence the food philosophy at Vert. Some days I think back to the farm and my travels and how much it has shaped who I am today and I appreciate being able to share it with our guests on a daily basis.