Q. How long have you been with Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, and what was your first job with the brand?
A. I joined Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen six months ago as a culinary manager. I’ve got 14 years of foodservice experience, with the last few years in management, but I wanted to work at Cheddar’s and rejoin Darden. In 2008, I was a culinary assistant at Olive Garden. My time with Cheddar’s, including the impressive training I received at the Sanford and Kissimmee locations in Florida, has been great, and I’m enjoying my role as a kitchen leader in the Jacksonville restaurant. I’m pleased to work at Cheddar’s because it’s a scratch kitchen with high guest satisfaction and value prices. In the foodservice industry, which I’ve always loved, you can change a community, one table at a time, and I’m dedicating my career to that. I have hospitality in my heart.
Q. How does the culture of Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen align with your values and what’s important to you?
A. Its culture is about dedication, teamwork and getting better every day, and those are also the values I’m committed to. The brand provides great support for managers so we can air our challenges, receive support and grow in our careers. Physical fitness is also a priority of mine because I lead by example, and if my body is strong, I have high energy. I learned the importance of a strong mind-body connection years ago when I was a gymnast. Here at Cheddar’s, I can take my career to the next level, chase my dreams and be the best I can be.
Q. What would people be surprised to learn about you?
A. I was homeless for two years as a teenager, living in my car or in a storage shed in a small Virginia town. I could easily have headed down a bad path, but I stayed positive and religion helped ground me. Those were hard times, but sometimes you have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. I vividly remember one night when it was 5 degrees outside and my feet were frozen — I looked up at the sky and prayed for help. I found restaurant work and it helped me turn my life around. Now I have a wife and three children and live in Florida where it’s warm with no snow. Every day is a blessing! I like to share my story to show that if you have a positive outlook and a plan, you can achieve whatever you want.