Thanks for the warm welcome! I do love the site and I have already communicated through personal messaging with some very knowledgable and helpful people.
My road to inspiration has been crooked and full of surprises...I took a job in a Tex-Mex restautant during summer break in college, and by the end of that summer I was the assistant kitchen manager...I was able to learn a lot in a hurry and that gave me a sound foundation regarding prep fundamentals, sanitation, cooking/grilling basics, etc. I have worked in several restaurants, both front and back of the house, and I learned a lot along the way--but it was always a job...I knew that I liked the business of food, but until I started doing my own thing at home and through competition cooking I never really felt "inspired" or passionate about cooking--once I combined my knowledge and interest in food with my love for being a host, my journey as a home chef truly began. I also have a job (in alumni relations for my alma mater) that enables me to host/plan very diverse events, so I continue to learn new things and put my knowledge on event planning to good use!
A lot of people have inspired me along the way, but I didn't really have a sole mentor...the GM who first saw my talent and promoted a 19 year-old-kid to a management position, my best friend from high school who is also my comrade in competition cooking, my wife who started to open my eyes to international cuisine by introducing me to her Korean heritage and culture, and the whole "food on TV" movement which drew me into learning more about the whole business of being a host and home cook...I have drawn inspiration from dozens of TV personalities and professional chefs as well.
Thanks again for the message--see you around the community!