The mission of Blackhawk Catering & Culinary Services is to demystify food and make the enjoyment of a creative, well conceived, and ably executed menu accessible to all. The founder is a determined "anti-snob" who believes that simple ingredients like chicken and collard greens can be every bit as elegant as foie gras and truffles if prepared thoughtfully. Likewise he eschews anything that makes the dining experience intimidating. An attitude he credits to one of his favorite and earliest influences, Justin Wilson, has stuck with him and is key to his philosophy: "What kind of wine goes with red meat? Its whatever one you like." As far as he is concerned there are only two rules regarding food;
Rule #1: Enjoy!
Rule #2: There aren't any other rules.
He regards food as something that we put inside our bodies, from which we draw our energy, our essence, and our vitality. It is absorbed into us and becomes what we are. Its a Zen relationship. As such, the substances we rely upon for this most basic need should be things which move, delight, and satisfy us before, during, and after the act of consuming them. Not that he is against formal dining and a well set table, on the contrary he has a great appreciation for elaborate presentations. However he believes that there is a definite time and a place for this format. For most people however, the most common setting for taking meals is an informal one. Informal by no means implies unimportant, or not worthy of due attention, because these meals are shared by families and friends. In this case the table should play a supporting role, and the food, one of a catalyst for fostering a relaxed atmosphere, conduscive to sharing companionship, conversation, and creating lasting memories.
He is a self described "thoughtful hedonist", in that all of his work is about the simple enjoyent of the experience, and his belief that good food has at its center, the best and freshest ingredients, treated with reverence and "encouraged to express themselves in the manner nature intended." He has been cooking since he was old enough to see the top of the stove and his grounding is in southern American cooking, having learned the fundimentals from his mother and grandmother, both born and raised in Mississippi. This base also includes an element of frugality; Coming from a home of modest means, the most had to be made of the simple and inexpensive ingredients available. This taught him to explore the essence of those ingredients and find ways to bring out the best qualities in them, and to combine them in ways that made them both interesting and fulfilling.
Creative use of fresh local vegetables, spices, and common pantry staples are key in this type of cooking. As he grew and traveled, he reveled in the experience of ethnic foods from points around the globe. His most memorable food experiences were had in Asia (his introduction to fish sauce), the middle east (his first exquisitely grilled lamb), and India (CURRY!) This food resonated largely because the cooking styles are similar to those in the south in that they are based on inexpensive ingredients and local produce, creative preparations that bring out thier unique character, the use of spices to create layers of flavor, and a philosophy of wasting absolutely nothing. He brings that palate as well as years of exposure to new and creative ideas fed by his voracious appetite for all forms of cooking related media to his unique style of food preperation and presentation.
His formal eduction (B.S. Biology, Idaho State University) led him for a time into the field of food science, specifically, research and development in the food maufacturing segment. He spent three years of that time developing and creating products in a line of meal solutions for busy consumers, that allow them to prepare a complete, substantial, and delicious meal in a fraction of the time it would take to prepare the same meal from scratch. These meals were marketed by national chain stores, club stores, and the nation's leading "home service" food seller.
Although he much prefers the intimate setting of a specially prepared meal, which the diner has played a part in planning, to an impersonal, prefab, retail offering, he believes that this experience rounds out the practical aspects of his repitiore by better enabling him to assist the food with its "expression" by understanding the chemistry involved, such as the physical and chemical reactions that occur in food during the cooking process.
His focus now is on developing and growing this project and realizing his dream of sharing his life and travels with others through food.