I am Danny, the creator of The Kickchen.  These “About” pages are always the toughest to fill but here it goes.

At a very young age I found my passion for food.  My grandma ran the kitchen at our local church and it is there where I found food to be a catalyst for community.  I felt a sense of pride in serving those who were less fortunate.

In high school, I worked my way up the cook line at a casual dining chain and had my heart set on culinary school.  Upon being granted admission, we had a family emergency and my culinary education was put on hold.  I continued to work as a cook and put myself through traditional college.  Eventually, culinary school hit the back burner (ha!) and I graduated with a degree in Finance and Marketing, and later on with a MBA.

After a few years of the 9-to-5 went by, I came to a crossroads in my life when my then employer told me my services were no longer needed.  Noticing I was feeling a bit down and out, my wife jokingly said to me, “why don’t you open a food truck?”  Something that didn’t really come to mind but I failed to mention to you for the past 6 months I had been operating a 10’ x 10’ pop up tent by the name of Holy Crepe! at local farmers’ markets and food truck events.  It was something that was actually going fairly well as a fun weekend project to keep my culinary juices flowing.  But she had a point.  Prior to being fired, I learned a lot of the business side of a restaurant which few restaurateurs are privy to: food costing, plate costing, consumer analytics, marketing, and data management.  So why not?

In due time, we had ourselves a commercial kitchen space all wrapped up inside a 27-foot 2001 Freightliner with a 4-speed transmission.  Big Bessy was her name.  In just a short period of time, our Bessy proudly shined in the pages of Food Network Magazine, The Tampa Bay Times, The Tampa Tribune, The TBT, and many other blogs and publications.  We could not believe the amount of love and support we received from our friends, family, and customers.  It was surreal.  It still is.

After much success and validation, we realized how true the saying, “All good things must come to an end,” really is.  In 2014, my wife and I were blessed with the birth of our first son.  I then made a decision to part ways with our business in lieu of a more stable schedule for our young family.  It is also during this time, that MasterChef invited me out to Los Angeles to be part of the season 5 cast.  Needless to say I had to decline the opportunity.

Fast forward a few more years and here I am now!  Following my cooking dreams still, venturing into private dining, catering, cooking classes and blogging.  After my short stint on MasterChef Season 8, I was re-energized to keep creating and keep cooking.  Making the top 21 out of 35,000 applicants surely has validated me as a chef once again with a passion for food and a drive to keep going to see what is next.  I hope you will stay tuned for the journey.

Thank you for the support,

– Danny from The Kickchen