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Chef, Cookbook Author, Food Activist

“MY PASSION FOR SUSTAINABILITY, DEVOTION TO COOKING WITH SOUL and exploration of REGIONAL CUISINEs inspire everything i do.”

I'm a third generation chef, cookbook author, sustainable food advocate and proud alumnus of The Culinary Institute of America. After spending most of my life on the East Coast—Raleigh, New York, Boston—I moved to LA in 2014. I've built a life for myself in Downtown Los Angeles where I’m the Executive Chef / Co-Owner of Preux & Proper and South City Fried Chicken, Locals leader for Chefs Collaborative LA and member of Seafood Watch's Blue Ribbon Task Force.

I believe that chefs have a great responsibility to the people we feed and the environment from which we source our food. Sustainability has been the guiding light throughout my career. It's given my life's work great purpose and continues to keep me challenged. It's allowed me to continue learning from great chefs, professors, scientists, farmers and fisherman, while working with world class organizations.

My cooking has received acknowledgment and acclaim from great American food institutions, including James Beard Foundation, Eater, American Culinary Federation and Zagat. I’ve thrown down on Food Network competitions, hosted cooking segments on networks from Hallmark to Viceland, and been featured on several Travel Channel programs. I’ve been fortunate to cook for some of my idols, including Jane Goodall, Mary J Blidge and Susan Sarandon. My journey as a chef has been one hell of a ride–but my humble beginnings are what have brought me this far.

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the come up


“My Life has always been a love story about food and cooking.”

My passion for food began early on, and roots from a childhood spent cooking alongside—and eating with—my Pops. In fact, as far back as my memory goes, food has been the most exciting thing in my life. As a child, I would wake up at midnight and sneak out of my bedroom so I could greet my Pops as he came home from work. At age thirteen, I began working at my folks' restaurant in Chapel Hill, North Carolina (Bud & Eb’s). My folks’ joint was an American Bar & Grill known for it’s funky Southern spread, spanning cuisines from the Carolinas all the way down to Texas, with a big pit-stop in New Orleans. This was where I learned to cook the classics, like Crawfish Étouffée, Barbecued Pork, Red Beans & Rice, Cuban Sandwiches, Smoked Andouille Plates, Fried Fish, Tortilla Soup, Cajun Crab Cakes, Pop's Burgers, Mommy's Apple Crisp and so much more. The only frills were on the toothpicks. It was down-home cooking; true grit American food. Food that I still love to cook, eat and serve to this day.

Check out some of my dishes at Preux & Proper...

“I love honoring the iconic plates I GREW UP COOKing in my pop’s kitchen while also creating extra fancy southern eats.”

36 Hour Prime Boneless Beef Rib w/ Garnet Yam Purée, Maitake-Leek Verde, Crispy Parsnips & Potlikker Demi

36 Hour Prime Boneless Beef Rib w/ Garnet Yam Purée, Maitake-Leek Verde, Crispy Parsnips & Potlikker Demi

“WITHOUT HEART, MY FOOD WOULD LACK FLAVOR AND SOUL. I OWE MY HEART TO MY WONDERFUL MOTHER DEBBY, WHO TAUGHT ME THE TRUE MEANING OF LOVE AND COMPASSION.”

Restaurants


Preux & Proper

A NEIGHBORHOOD ESTABLISHMENT OFFERING SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY, BOOZY COCKTAILS & AMERICAN CUISINE

south city fried chicken

A SOUTHERN STYLE FRIED CHICKEN JOINT IN THE HEART OF DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES COOKING WITH SOUL

Projects & adventures


HYPE


 
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20 ESSENTIAL DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES RESTAURANTS
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BEST OF LA: BEST CHICKEN SANDWICH, SOUTH CITY FRIED CHICKEN
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FOUR GREAT L.A. FRIED CHICKEN RESTAURANTS TO TRY NOW
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WHY L.A. FELL HEAD OVER HEELS FOR THE FRIED CHICKEN SANDWICH
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L.A. FOOD & WINE 2018
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50 REASONS WE LOVE THE SOUTH NOW
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ZAGAT 30 UNDER 30 (2012)
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5 RESTAURANTS THAT HAVE MADE DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES A DESTINATION
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THE BEST BURGER IN L.A. FOR EVERY BUDGET
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GUY'S BIG PROJECT "THE BITE"
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Projects & adventures


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I've been a huge fan of Hedley & Bennet Aprons since the days of rocking my biscuit dough blemished black denim Lincoln. H&B was one of the first establishments I visited when I moved to Los Angeles, and since then, they've become wildly successful! I love all my peeps over at the Apron Squad headquarters, and it was super dope to model such a sleek garment for them.
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Frying chicken in Brooklyn with one of the most flavorful MC's was a true rock star moment for me. We smoked, we drank, we laughed and we ate. A lot. Laila Ali was *more* than a legend to kick it with. Back on that Hip-Hop note, I had to wear my vintage Coogi sweater to pay homage to the greatest MC of all time, BK's one and only, the late and great Notorious B.I.G.
Watch Video →

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Cooking breakfast with Susan Sarandon was badass. Smoking hash and dancing with Susan Sarandon was legendary. I lost my mind in Black Rock City while building and operating a Gypsy Hotel for 120 esteemed guests. Our crew spent 18 days on the plancha. Hell, we all lost our minds. Fortunately, when reality hit, it hit hard, and I fell into Preux & Proper. This was the last soul searching endeavor I embarked upon before our flagship restaurant, and part of me likes to think it didn't just make my food better, but, it clarified my journey and solidified my path as a chef.
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My homie chef Ryan Trimm (Sweet Grass, Next Door, Sunrise Memphis) flew us to Memphis to cook at his annual Special Olympics fundraiser. It was probably the coolest thing I've ever done. Kass came with me and her Mama Michelle drove into town from Asheville NC to help us cook at the event! Much love and shout outs to Dougan and the whole crew at Sweet Grass.
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What happens when some of America's most forward-thinking chefs flock to Atlanta for a meeting of the minds, smack dab in the middle of the "eye" of Hurricane Irma? Well... disaster couldn't stop us and we still did our thang-a-lang. We learned, shared and discussed many fascinating ideas in line with the theme "Growing Community - Owning The Future." It couldn't have been more fitting that we also rolled up our sleeves to provide meals for thousands of storm victims via the local Red Cross. I also freestyle'd on the streets and told Steven Satterfield he's my man crush, after he hosted a lecture on food waste reduction at Miller Union.
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The burger was always a staple in my family's restaurant, and something my pop’s took great pride in. It's something to this day that we can talk about for hours. The burger—a global icon of American cuisine. I couldn't imagine a more fitting first cookbook to create, nor a more qualified co-author than my dear friend and burger afficionado Richard Chudy.
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It was an absolute honor and thrill to compete in this year's Cochon 555. My crew and I had a blast breaking down a 350 pound beautiful Berkshire hog sourced by our favorite local raisers, Peads & Barnetts. Cochon events support their charity <i>Piggy Bank</i>, which betters the future of food by endorsing safer, more enlightened farming practices through the sharing of genetics, livestock, and information. Despite our defeat, our participation helped the good food movement, something near and dear to our hearts.  <a href="/gallery" class="summary-read-more-link"><b>View Gallery →</b></a>

It was an absolute honor and thrill to compete in this year's Cochon 555. My crew and I had a blast breaking down a 350 pound Berkshire hog sourced from local raisers–Peads & Barnetts. Cochon events support their charity Piggy Bank, which betters the future of food by endorsing safer, more enlightened farming practices through the sharing of genetics, livestock, and info.
View Gallery →

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As an ordained Dudeist Priest (facts), I decided to throw a Big Lebowski themed brunch at Preux & Proper in honor of the film's recent 20 year anniversary—which also landed on Halloween weekend! Achievers came in from all around the City of Angles to abide, imbibe and channel their inner Dude. The Pig Trotter Po' Boy was able to get a lot of folks "a toe" by 3 o'clock that afternoon, and the Frozen White Russian Daiquiris really tied the barroom together. I was in my full Dude garb and of course, Kass was my Walter. Check out the menu (designed by Alix Marson) and some photos, maaaan.
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My homie chef Ryan Trimm (Sweet Grass, Next Door, Sunrise Memphis) flew us to Memphis to cook at his annual Special Olympics fundraiser. It was probably the coolest thing I've ever done. Kass came with me and her Mama Michelle drove into town from Asheville NC to help us cook at the event! Much love and shout outs to Dougan and the whole crew at Sweet Grass.
View Gallery →

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Frying chicken in Brooklyn with one of the most flavorful MC's was a true rock star moment for me. We smoked, we drank, we laughed and we ate. A lot. Laila Ali was *more* than a legend to kick it with. Back on that Hip-Hop note, I had to wear my vintage Coogi sweater to pay homage to the greatest MC of all time, BK's one and only, the late and great Notorious B.I.G.
Watch Video →

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