The Start of the Journey: Memoirs from the Quinoa Student

The Start of the Journey: Memoirs from the Quinoa Student

When I moved Boulder, Colorado in 2005, I did not plan on selling hundreds of thousands of pounds ( maybe millions by now) of quinoa in my career. I moved out to Boulder for new opportunities that my hometown of Memphis, TN could not provide. Colorado had always had an allure with it's mystifying mountains and unique outdoor active way of life. Along with the intrigue, I was accepted to the Leeds School of Business which I took as a sign. I gathered whatever would fit in two suitcases, packed up a bike in a box and boarded a Greyhound Bus heading West.

I am very lucky to have supportive parents along with two older brothers whom I suspect paved the way for me to be more of the black sheep / wanderer of the family. My parents had gone through a lot to say the least, but I believe they had faith that for whatever reason, moving 1000 miles across the country was what I needed and part of a bigger purpose. So, dropping me off at the bus station and saying adios, was not too crazy or emotional. My emotions were that of excitement and that was one of the fastest 24 hour travel days that I can remember. 

I moved into a random house with new guys whom I had never met that still remain some of the closest friends that I have today. After settling in for the first week and figuring out the lay of Boulder ( this was my first time ever being here), I realized that I should get a job to not rack of the debt of living and having fun in Boulder. I was lucky to have parents willing to pay for rent, but outside of that, I was going to have to make my own way if I wanted some food in the fridge and cash in the pocket for fun and adventure. I started checking out some of the higher end restaurants and places around town looking for employees.

That led me to an interview at Aji restaurant on Pearl St. After convincing the manager that I would be the best hire of the day, I started the grind of slow M-F lunch shifts that eventually lead to some good weekend evening shifts. Though the point of mentioning Aji, is that this Latin American Restaurant had cuisine based around South and Central America that I had never seen before. Dishes like Feijoada, Papas a la Huancaina, Moqueca and yes, Guiso de Quinoa were new to me and damn tasty!

Since High School, I embraced the love of food and the food and beverage industry. Prior to Aji, I had worked at a Family Italian restaurant in the town I grew up in and later a Creole and BBQ Cafe on Beale St. My parents also liked to cook and my dad created a lot of unique dishes most weeks. It was Aji that really started to expand my horizons as the Executive Chef Nick Roberts and his Sous Luke Simmons really liked to try out unique ingredients and recreate Latin comfort food with a twist of their own. I feel in love with this cuisine and all the flavors that came out of that kitchen!

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