I grew up in Chicago and lived there for 30 years until 1999. I moved to the Cincinnati area with my son who is now a teenager. I currently live in Bellevue, KY. I enjoy food, cooking, shooting, fishing, hunting, cigars, Bourbon, vegetable gardening and the company of good friends. My love for cooking started when I was about 13 and really took in the last 15 years. The lack of really good restaurants here in the Cincinnati area has pushed me in the direction of making my own favorites. I have worked in the Chicago music industry before leaving Chicago. I have also worked in the wine & spirits industry as well as premium cigars during my employment at the Party Source in Bellevue, KY. During my time at the Party Source I became knowledgeable in all types of spirits going on educational trips to Mexico, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, numerous Bourbon distilleries and Malt Advocate’s “Whiskey Fest”. I had the great opportunity to share my passion of cooking and spirits through cooking classes that I taught at the Party Source. I think my culinary knowledge and passion has skyrocketed over the last ten years. I am not a professionally trained chef although my friends say I should pursue it. I have a Bachelors Degree in Finance from the University of Cincinnati class of 2005.
One day while drinking and smoking cigars with some friends we came up with a name for my patio where we all gathered on Sunday afternoons. The “Truality Bar & Grill”.
Truality defined: If you believe it to be true, it is!
Growing up in Chicago I was very lucky to experience great food. From a very early age I was encouraged by my parent’s to explore different foods and cultures. My mom and dad divorced when I was 4 so their influences on my culinary journey were quite clear. My mother is a great home cook and inspired many recipes that appear in this book; Vegetable Beef Soup, Sirloin Tip Beef Roast, Chili, Chuck Roast and Red Velvet Cake to name a few. My Stepfather’s family is Scandinavian Swedish allowing me to experience great food especially during the holidays.
My Dad had us on Sundays and always had something interesting planned. My dad loves to grill, visit farmers markets and above all trying all kinds of ethnic foods. I can attribute my love of ethic food to him. My dad also has a knack for sniffing out the best restaurants; a skill he has definitely passed on to me. My dad had a longtime girlfriend named April; April was one of the best cooks I have ever seen, April could make anything; and I do mean anything! My cooking style is definitely modeled after April.
As a young man I had a very diverse group of friends; Puerto Rican, Cuban, Mexican, African American, Philippine, Polish, and Italian. Nellie Padilla the mother of my good friends Marcus and Pete made the best Puerto Rican food ever and was a huge influence on me. I was very lucky to learn from her and eat her cooking. I compare all Puerto Rican food to her food. One of the best cooks I have ever encountered was the mother of my dear friend Angelo Lollino. Pina Lollino owned and operated Ristorante Italia on Harlem Avenue in Chicago; quite simply my favorite restaurant of all time and possibly the best Italian in Chicago at the time. Pasta Quatro Formagi and Chicken Vesuvio appear courtesy of Pina.
After moving to Cincinnati in 1999 I began working for The Party Source in Bellevue, KY. The Party Source is a large lifestyle store specializing in wine, spirits and beer. The Party Source has a huge professional kitchen and tools so I naturally love cooking there. I began cooking meals for the Sunday staff and employees that had to work holidays. The employees loved my food and actually looked forward to working and my meals. The General Manager of the Party Source and good friend Jon Stiles encouraged me to develop and teach some cooking classes at our cooking school. Since I love to cook for others I jumped at the opportunity.
Dwayne Miles… My brother from another mother! I learned so much from you in the short time we have been friends; in and out of the kitchen. I’m truly blessed to have met you! Paul Hight, Steve Finney, Jacob Fogelman Sarah Lyons, Bobbie Ferguson, Jon Stiles, Julie Overman (STFU), Micah Dennison, Kevin McKenna, Mike Schneider, James Erb, the Keas family and my Party Source brothers and sisters. Words can’t describe what your friendship means to me. Thank you!
Cooking and sharing with friends and family is my way of saying “I love you!” If I cook for you it’s because I appreciate you and thankful that you’re a part of my life.
This Blog is dedicated to my son Christian and all the people who have influenced my cooking over the years.
You are all my 10%!
The rules for the Truality Bar & Grill are as follows.
No religious discussion
No political discussion
No racial discussion