I was born and raised right here in “Champa Bay.” I graduated from East Bay High in the Class of 2006.
My food career all really started just as a hobby in the backyard. That led to vending at pop-up car shows around town, and then competing in the barbecue circuit and winning. All of it just really made me fall in love with the whole barbecue scene.
I quit my corporate job to go full time with Wicked Oak Barbeque’s food truck in September 2019, and then opened up the shop one short year later. I was inspired to be my own boss and bring award-winning ‘que to the Bay area.
I love everything about my job. It’s my passion. I don’t just like this living; I love it.
There is no such thing in this business as a typical day. Most days start off by getting my daughter ready and off to school. My day could be anything from working at the shop or in the office to running to the bank or around town for supplies and goods. Either way it always wraps up with dinner with my family.
My family inspires me. The woman that I’m doing life with really sets the bar high. She is an incredible restaurateur and constantly inspires me. Our little girl is my life and I will do whatever it takes to give her the world.
MY LOCAL KNOWLEDGE
My favorite place for a local business meal is Trips Diner. I order the cheese grits, fried eggs, bacon and wheat toast.
My No. 1 choice for a special occasion is OLIVIA. The food is amazing.
For fine dining, I like Council Oak Steaks & Seafood at the Seminole Hard Rock.
My go-to coffee shop is Spaddy’s. I get the cafe con leche.
When I have guests visiting from out of town, a must-do is a visit to Empamamas and Muchachas at Armature Works.
My favorite place to eat healthy in town is Fresh Kitchen. Ciccio Restaurant Group does it right.
The best place in Tampa to grab breakfast or brunch is Graze. I’m obsessed with their cheese grits.
A Tampa hidden gem is Coco’s Latin Cuisine. They actually have a shop by the port of Tampa and a food truck. The steak sandwich is incredible. It has crunchy potato sticks and the best garlic aioli in town.
If I was designing a day out with my family in Tampa, I would start my morning picking up Cubans from the shop or La Segunda. Then I would hop on the boat and take us to Egmont Key. We would finish the day off at a Bucs or Lightning game.
Tampa shops I enjoy visiting include Tampa Fishing Outfitters and Heads and Tails.
My top pick for a night out with friends is Raymond James Stadium for a Bucs game or The Amp (The MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheater) for a concert.
When it comes to spending time outdoors in the Tampa Bay area, I enjoy inshore fishing, concerts and local festivals around town.
For my workouts, I enjoy taking a bike ride on Bayshore and Tampa Riverwalk.