It all started in the summer of 99, when my mom made me sit down at the kitchen table to draft up my thank you letter, which would be sent to the friends and family who gave me money for graduating high school from Eureka HS in St. Louis, MO. The part that stood out to me was when I explained that, “Emeril Lagasse better scoot over and make room for Chef Billy Parisi.” I just never imagined the dream would come so close to reality that I could actually taste it…
It’s easy to reflect on your past when you are only 17 writing the stories of such a short lived life, but even now at 29 I will ever forget when Gerard Whatton of Gerard’s Fine Continental Cuisine asked me, with my father near by, if I was interested in taking on the task of being the new dish washer at his spot. Heck yeah I was interested, shoot I was only 13 and any money was good money. Little did I know, that very moment would transform my future and life forever. While most of my friends were dreaming of playing collegiate sports, I couldn’t wait to get out of high school to pursue my passion for everything cooking. I am a Midwesterner at heart, growing up in Detroit, Cleveland and St. Louis, but I could not wait to get out of my comfort zone to see what the culinary world had in store for me. Scottsdale Culinary Institute would stock me with the culinary knowledge necessary to fully embrace cooking as an art, the innumerable intricacies of food and the tools to achieve success in the industry.
At the age of 19, I was the youngest person to graduate SCI that year and believe me at that age I thought I was the best chef to hit the scene since Charlie Trotter. After graduation I headed back to my roots in St. Louis in search of creating a name for myself amongst the culinary elite. I completed a quick 3-month externship at a crazy French restaurant out in the sticks called Malmaison, go figure. From there I accepted a sous chef position at a well-known restaurant in the Clayton area of St. Louis where I really embraced what it meant to run my own kitchen. Exectuve Chef Joe Hovland of Cardwell’s became not only a mentor, but also a dear friend of whom I still often talk to. He equipped me with enough knowledge to take the next step of becoming an executive chef of my own spot. A few days after turning only 21 I took on the 800 pound guerilla and became the executive chef of The Wild horse Creek Grill, which was out in the burbs of St. Louis. Well, 100 hour-7 day workweeks and 9 months later I said the hell with this and spoke to close friend Gerard Whatton about taking over his kitchen as executive chef. I was very familiar with the territory and felt it was the right fit at the time. Half way through year as Gerard’s executive chef I became eager for more knowledge, and decided to return to school, this time at the University of Missouri where I earned a degree in Communications with an emphasis in video production and a minor in Spanish. Not even a vivacious campus life could keep me out of the kitchen. I regularly spent my time at the university’s prestigious Alumni Club—where Executive Chef Daniel Pliska and myself went on to win the distinction of “Iron Chef of Missouri in 2004. I was sad to leave, because I was in love with college, but the inevitable was upon me and I graduated in 2007. I relocated to Chicago and started FixMyRecipe.com, an interactive cooking show online. How I fell into fixmyrecipe.com is a story in itself and maybe someday I will make that public. Since the site launched in 2008, I have been featured on live TV and Radio in Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, Kansas City, Charlotte, Winston-Salem and Grand Rapids. I have also been featured in various print and cable mediums, including the Chicago Sun Times and the Chicago Tribune as well as Comcast On-Demand in the Chicago market.
The FixMyRecipe online video recipes have received over six million views on the web and have been featured in several online publications and blogs.
In 2010 I broke out underneath the FixMyRecipe umbrella and pursued my own brand. I now serve as the culinary spokesperson for Lowes Foods and Heinen’s Grocery Stores as well as the in-house chef and culinary face to Sears Holdings Corporations.
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