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 natural bodybuilder, 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.
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—all prior to starting my own upscale private chef company, Sin City Chefs.
After spending endless hours cooking, creating and tasting, I won multiple awards in national culinary competitions, on the national barbecue circuit, and most recently, I earned the title “Chopped Champion” on the Food Network’s Chopped “Cook Your Butt Off” competition.
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 I was disgusted with my appearance and decided to change it all. I began changing my eating habits—I dropped soda and starches first—and then, after losing the first 50 lbs, I began exercising as well. Between January 2005 and July 2006, I lost a total of 92 lbs and dropped from 36% to 9% bodyfat and from a whopping 44 inch to a mere 28 inch waist. After working with a professional trainer, I stepped onto the bodybuilding stage at just 5% body fat. Through the process of transforming my body, I learned how to transform my favorite foods into a healthier version without losing any of the flavor and mouth feel I craved.
Amazing health changes occurred due to the weight loss as well: no more acid reflux, lower blood pressure, better skin, and the list goes on. I have made it my goal in life to share the amazing possibilities for a healthy, tasty diet with those who want to eat better. I now help my clients to gain health benefits such as weight loss, lower blood pressure, and control of their blood sugar, and I also help amateur and professional athletes reach their body and health goals by setting up and/or implementing diet plans tailored specifically to them.
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. 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.
I currently teach healthy cooking seminars and classes for those seeking a healthier lifestyle, particularly those with diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease, as well as teaching clients how to transform foods into healthier versions in order to fulfill their personal health goals on a daily basis. I also work with local companies to plan and/or implement their employee health fairs.
I was once unhealthy, and I was able to change that. It is my desire to help those who want to change to a healthier lifestyle, eat better one bite at a time.