I usually say that I eat and drink for a living. Indeed, those are two of my favorite pastimes. However, eating and drinking usually don't pay the bills. So instead I spend some of my time cooking, writing, speaking and entertaining while using food and beverage as my medium.
Like many entrepreneurs trying to find a way in this world, I've found ways to create a career out my passions. So if you are interested in hiring me to cook, write, speak, entertain, host, emcee or do anything else, please let me know!
My background is a little unique. I didn't start out cooking, I started out eating! I remember watching my dad cook squirrel stews over wood stoves in Louisiana or roast potatoes on coals while searing steaks on open mesquite fires in South Texas.
I learned how to cook throwing tailgate parties for LSU football. Before the first game of my first football season, my cousin Travis handed me our grandfather’s old barbecue utensils and said, “Here freshman, you’re in charge of the grill now.” It’s been trial by fire ever since.
We'd cook huge cast iron cauldrons of red beans & rice, gumbo or sauce piquante. We'd fry boudin balls and hushpuppies in outdoor deep fryers and made our own barbecue pit and smoker out of used beer kegs.
Soon after I began dabbling in competitive barbecue and recipe creation. I won a tailgating cook-off in 2010 that catapulted my career. The next year, I was cast as one of the top 100 amateur chefs in America on MasterChef, which led to a stint as opening Chef Instructor at the Viking Cooking School Outdoors.
After that, I quit my day job, started working for myself, and never looked back.
Since then I've cooked or judged food on many TV shows. Most notably I finished runner-up on Season 11 of Food Network Star in 2015, wowing judges with my Cajun and deep-fried cuisine.
Now I serve as a chef at pop-up dinners, private events, and cooking demonstrations at conferences, conventions and festivals. I cater huge parties at breweries, wedding rehearsal dinners and receptions, university fundraiser campaigns, corporate tailgate parties and company holiday parties. In July 2016 I had the honor to cook a dinner at the historic James Beard House in NYC and got invited back to be part of a group dinner with some of my Food Network Star castmates in 2018. I also currently host small, supper club dinners for up to 12 in Baton Rouge. If you'd like to hire me to cook, whether it is at my house for an anniversary party or for a crowd of hundreds to thousands, please feel free to reach out.
In 2009 I found myself bored sitting behind a computer at my day job. I began keeping an online food journal, documenting what I ate for lunch each day and beers I had with friends over the weekend.
It quickly grew into an expression of food and culture called Bite and Booze.
As the blog continued to grow, I grew my writing portfolio with different magazines and websites.
Currently, I maintain the Bite and Booze blog and enjoy freelancing on a regular basis.
I’ve had work published in Louisiana Cookin' Magazine, Town Favorites Magazine, Country Roads Magazine, Menuism.com, The Huffington Post, The Southern Coterie, Offbeat Magazine, Louisiana Kitchen & Culture, 225 Magazine, Delta Sky Magazine, The Local Palate, The Advocate, LouisianaTravel.com, Good Grit, Thrillist, Delta Style Magazine and more.
I'm currently under contract with LSU Press for a book deal on Louisiana Outdoor Cooking. I'll keep everyone posted about when it'll be published!
Back in middle school, speech class was my thing. And it's pretty much been something at which I excelled ever since.
Once I transitioned into culinary media, I began speaking to academic and community organizations around Baton Rouge. I've booked speaking gigs at conferences and conventions across the country, including Food Blog South in Birmingham, the International Food Bloggers Conference in New Orleans, and the Beer Bloggers Conference in Indianapolis and Boston.
I have organized and spoken on panels on a wide range of topics, from culinary travel blogging for Louisiana Travel Promotion Association to utilizing social media effectively for the National Beer Wholesalers Association’s annual convention in San Diego. I’ve spoken about creating a strong brand and blogging locally at Yummy Nation’s FoodFightWrite in Las Vegas, and I’ve emceed a variety of events, from charity galas to the Great American Seafood Cook-off.
Most of the time, I tell my story about quitting my day job, pursuing my passion, and finding a way to eat and drink for a living. Please get in touch to have me speak about food and beverage blogging, social media, food and beer pairing, and cooking.
Over the years I’ve come to love sharing my enthusiasm for food and beverage through the lens of a camera. I always strive to make people hungry and thirsty through the content I produce.
Finishing in the top 3 of season 11 of Food Network Star was a dream come true. Being able to share a part of myself on the show was truly gratifying for me.
You may have also seen me compete on Beat Bobby Flay (2019), Chopped (2018), Cutthroat Kitchen (2014) and MasterChef (2011). I've also made other appearances on Food Network's The Kitchen and Burgers, Brews & Que, Travel Channel's Ginormous Foods, Cooking Channel's Eat St, Destination America’s Last Call Food Brawl, HBO's Treme and more.
In 2016 I had a pilot of my own show, Deep Fried America, air on Travel Channel.
I often collaborate with tommysTV, a local film production company. Together, we created a web series for 225 Magazine called Into the Mix and one called Free Booze Friday where I drink with puppets. We have also produced culinary video content for Louisiana Office of Tourism’s Louisiana Brewery Trail and Louisiana Culinary Trails, Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers, Visit Baton Rouge, the Louisiana Culinary Institute, Calandro's Supermarket, and more.
Since 2011 I’ve produced and hosted the Bite and Booze Radio Show. The show won a Taste Award as best food or drink radio broadcast in the country in 2014, and a Uniquely Louisiana award from the Louisiana Association of Broadcasters in 2015. On the show, I interview chefs, food and beverage personalities, and organizers of food and drink based events while exploring the the culinary culture of wherever I am.
Head to my contact page if you're interested in hiring me as on-camera talent or to produce culinary content.
Of all the titles listed on my business cards, “hugger” is the one that raises the most eyebrows. Nestled in between “owner, author, blogger, radio and TV host, chef, producer, traveler, eater, drinker” and “coordinator, speaker, listener, teacher, student,” it always sparks a conversation.
And that was by intention.
To me, what I do represents more than just a cheerful embrace, though those never hurt. Hugging is part of my philosophy and indeed part of my business. It’s not all about the money. It’s about trying to make a difference in people’s lives in any way I can. That’s why I do whatever it takes to be as involved as possible in my community.
Now, I serve on the Dean’s Advisory Council for LSU’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences, on the Advisory Board at the Louisiana Culinary Institute and on the board for the American Red Cross's Capital West Chapter. I've competed in Hogs for the Cause, a New Orleans charity cook-off benefiting families of children with pediatric brain cancer. I work with organizations like Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge and the Baton Rouge Epicurean Society. I promote fundraising events like the Capital Area United Way’s Jambalaya Jam and the Mary Bird Perkins Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center’s The Taste. I support numerous non-profit groups such as the Boys and Girls Club, Big Buddy, the Emerge Center, Heritage Ranch, Lighthouse Louisiana, HAART, Baton Rouge Community Radio, Opera Louisiene and more.
Get in touch if there’s anything else I can do to help make the world a better place.