I have been both a winner and a loser-and equally successful at both. Allow me to explain: I am an award-winning chef, a competitive barbeque pitmaster, a natural bodybuilder, a three-time world champion powerlifter, and an individual who lost 92 pounds and has kept it off for years! So you see, I am equally successful as a winner and a loser.
I was always overweight as a kid, but after the loss of a child and a broken marriage, I gained a great deal of weight. I topped out at 217 lbs with a 44-inch waist and multiple health issues. One day, I just decided to change it all. Between January 2005 and July 2006, I lost a total of 92 lbs and dropped from a 36 percent body fat to a 9 percent body fat and a mere 28-inch waist. After months of hard work, I stepped onto the bodybuilding stage at just 5 percent body fat and have represented Team USA at the Natural Olympia twice. I later switched to power lifting and garnered three world titles in just two years. During this time, I learned to transform favorite foods into healthier versions while maintaining the taste and texture people love.
My food journey began in childhood with a passion for cooking. That interest led me to acquire a Certificate of Culinary Arts at Traverse Bay Area Career Tech Center and a degree in Baking and Pastry Arts, as well as a minor in Nutritional Science, from the prestigious Johnson & Wales University in RI. I went from being a butcher’s helper at Deering’s Meat Market in Traverse City, MI before college to Pastry Sous Chef at Wynn-Las Vegas several years after college.
I spent countless hours cooking, creating and tasting along the way to winning multiple awards in national culinary competitions, on the national barbeque circuit, and most recently, the title of “Chopped Champion” on the Food Network. Additionally, I created and successfully ran Sin City Chefs, an upscale private chef company for 7 years prior to making the decision to bring up the next generation of culinary experts by becoming a full-time chef instructor.
In 2010, I earned the endorsement of the American Heart Association for my heart-healthy menus and cooking style. In 2011, I won the Flavors of the Heart and Clean Eating Magazine’s top award for the best transformed, heart-healthy recipe. In 2013, I again entered the Flavors of the Heart contest with a transformed dessert recipe, and once more, I garnered top honors. In 2014, I helped my students achieve the top award for best desert in the Flavors of the Heart contest. I have also appeared all over the country on various television shows and have been featured in multiple publications, from local to international in scope.
In my first round of competitive barbequing, my top accolades came when I placed 19th overall out of over 400 teams at the American Royal and with a second place in ribs and second place in pork at Minnesota in May, another competition with a huge attendance. Due to a number of life-changing events, I took a ten-year hiatus from the national barbeque scene and just reentered the ring with a group of barbeque novices in May of 2013. We received three top-ten calls at our very first contest. In 2014, I continued to build the team and fine tune our methods, and we ended up nationally-ranked in the top third of all registered Kansas City Barbeque Society competitive teams with only three contests.
In 2015, I look forward to the continuing success in my personal endeavors, with my students, and in the barbeque ring with my team.