The French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre once said, “People are like dice. We throw ourselves in the direction of our own choosing.” This encapsulates not only my take on life, but my take on food. To live is to be free. No matter how situated it may be, each of us has a measure of freedom to exert in our environment. The Golden Age of Piracy from the 17th and 18th centuries was all about this exertion. There were ruthless pirates, honor-bound pirates, self-proclaimed “gentleman pirates,” and so on. The theatrics of the one and only Edward Thatch – better known as Blackbeard – instilled both fear and reverence for the Golden Age and this coveted ideal of freedom. Black Napkin Catering was founded on these same ideals.
The black napkin symbolizes formal dining. In this case, it is also a metaphor for the black flag Golden Age pirates would fly as they sailed across the open seas. My tagline, “Freedom in Cooking,” encapsulates this principle of freedom as I do my best to bring my patrons into the menu development process while also freeing myself up to cook the kinds of dishes I like to make.
The pirate’s philosophy runs so much deeper than rum, robbing, and recklessness. To live is to be free. I came from the restaurant industry working my way from dishwasher to prep cook to line cook and even the “coveted” open kitchen position while obtaining a Bachelor’s in Hospitality and Tourism Management. Even after graduating, I enjoyed a two-year stint working at a four-star resort and another high-end restaurant before I finally decided enough was enough. To make a long story short, I burnt out. I knew I could not continue to prepare food in the same manner without finding a way to make it my own. I gained business acumen from my college education. I developed the skill set from the numerous cooks, both professional and amateur, who graced me with their teachings and wisdom (special shout-out to chef Simone Dundy!). From all these exposures and acquaintances, Black Napkin Catering was conceived.
I am not self-taught, but I am original in my approach and execution. To live is to be free. There is no better role for me to exert my freedom and creativity than as a personal caterer.