The beginnings of Chef Rick: The food speaks for itself so I will give a little personalization to tell you why I cook and where cooking started for me. Cooking was a gift and a curse until I walked in my purpose.
I am a self-taught chef that did not have the money or luxury of going to the Art Institute. I am a disabled Marine veteran who served during the The Persian Gulf War. I have PTDS and cooking is my therapy. I have a MBA and I am currently pursuing my doctorate in Organizational Leadership. I will use this Ph.D to consult in the food industry.
I remember PBS as a child. I was watching Julia Child instead of watching Sesame Street or Zoom. I have been cooking since 1987 but my jouney started in 1989 as I would cook for myself in the barracks in Okinawa Japan on my two-burner hot plate and my mini oven. This was the time that I started honing in on on my craft and learning form my mistakes. This timeframe was difentley a turning poiint in my life.
The mess hall provided 3 meals up until 6 pm but nothing like home. I started cooking in the barracks because I wanted the taste of some home-cooked food. As smells started roaming throughout the barracks corridors there were Marines lining up not only to get a taste of what I was cooking for myslef but also making requests trying to get the same home-cooked satisfaction I was craving.
I even had the mess hall personnel bringing me seafood, beef, and produce asking me to cook up whatever I wanted as made sure they had a few to go plates when they arrived. A hot plate and a mini oven turned into military police at my door not to shut down my love for making people happy but instead trying to get a plate on discount for not turning me in (hot plates were illgal in the barracks). I remember Lance Corporal Carrol saying Big Chaff my grandmother used to make smothered chicken and gravy do you think you can cook that? You know I took care of him becaue making people happy with my food was in my blood.
My love of making people happy with my food was my gift. It never mattered if I got compensated or not. People have been trying to get me to open up a restaurant for years. I never wanted the business to get in between the therapeutic enjoyment I have for cooking. I’ve flown low on the radar turning down catering booking after booking not accepting money. I would do large and small catering jobs simply on the strength of our relationship. Engagements, birthdays, and office parties and not a dime made, simply for my own selfish therapeutic pleasure.
When I disability retired, I needed to supplement my income. Looking here there and everywhere except for my God-given talent. Out of necessity, I took a few corporate bookings. When the smoke and the check cleared I had to reevaluate getting compensated to do what I enjoy. I have not wasted time as I enjoy what I do and obviously would do it even if I did not get paid but I must say this and say it loud DO NOT IGNORE GOD when he blesses you. If I had listened I probably would be on the food network or have several restaurants by now.
God blesses each of us with a gift. Be sure to open yours and use it to increase your territory. I am currently working with the SURE Entrepreneurial Program at the University of Houston (which I also graduated from) and The MVA Boating Tour at the Port of Houston among many other private dinning, catering, and meal prep bookings.
God spoke and when I listened, he blessed me.