In my teens, I dreamed of cooking Cajun food in New Orleans. One night in the summer of 2015, I drove there, lured by a chef’s unintended promise.
"Andrew," he said "my kitchen will always be open to you."
I tried emailing and calling him about this, but he never responded - so I decided to walk into the back of his new restaurant after lunch, in whites, clutching my tools. I stepped into the kitchen, an herb and spice-filled sauna.
“Who the hell are you?!” a voice shouted.
“Chef Gulotta, I’m Andrew.” I responded. “Three years ago, you promised me a job. Today, I am ready to learn from you.”
He squinted, clenching his fists as he slowly approached. Face-to-forearms, the burly Sicilian-American glared down at me, summer sweat dripping from his nose to his stained apron. Flatbread burned on the stove as a line cook scrambled for his phone to record what was about to happen.
“You said I promised you a job, huh!?” He stopped inches away from me, and exhaled. Laughing, he extended his hand. “Let me give you the tour.”
I cut vegetables for ten hours a day my first month - but I watched, listened, and learned. By the time a line cook called in sick, I'd already taught myself how to work, earning myself a promotion. At the end of the summer, I'd gleaned five gumbo recipes, cooked jambalaya for a local musician's show, and slow-roasted cochon de lait for hundreds of guests.
I’ve been a chef in Michelin-starred restaurants, a bartender, and a firefighter. I’ve followed my dreams to the fire-scarred Sierras for juicy morel mushrooms, to Caribbean jungles for rums never tasted before in America, and to San Francisco to push my boundaries as a drag queen. These journeys are all connected by my hunger for self-discovery and improvement, for bonds with new friends, and for collecting and sharing stories.
I take my D3200 everywhere. I use it to understand my adventures, to see what I'm thinking. My passion for photography is the distillation of my previous journeys; it’s my answer to embracing the unfamiliar in life. I aim to show how connected people all are to each other, and the world. By doing so, I hope to inspire people to wholeheartedly explore the world and their passions through my work.