I grew up cooking with my family, so it was a connection I gained early on. Around the same time, I began watching the Food Network and other cooking shows that sparked my desire to work in restaurants.

I worked in a couple of casual restaurants, a few bars, and grills, and I gained a lot of knowledge and experience in cooking, but the environment in the places I worked didn’t suit my personality. I wanted to pursue high-end dining, and I felt people weren’t looking for the same thing in the places I worked. It was only a job for them, and we didn’t share the same enthusiasm for improving our craft.

When I opened my restaurant, I knew I needed to approach the kitchen culture differently. Overall, the industry in the States has changed from the times chefs would yell and scream. Not everywhere, but in some places. I don’t think screaming at people helps them retain information. It just makes them scared of you.

We’re a small restaurant, and I thought the only sustainable way to ran a fine dining restaurant lied in a small operation and an excellent small team. The focus became how to nurture the team players and give guidance and leadership in a way that would be appropriately received. We ensure every member gets something out of the experience and guide them toward whatever goal they have for their career.

One year after opening the restaurant, we earned a Michelin star. It was surprising for some, but I’ve been cooking at this level for most of my career. This star is a natural outcome of our hard work and how we cook at the restaurant. It’s not like I’m doing something whimsical, and I have to figure out how to keep it going, which is why I don’t feel any pressure about it.

Sometimes I think, wow, Michelin will come every year, and we have to retain the star, but it’s okay. I just have to keep doing what I do, work excellently, and the rest will sort itself out.