Chris is one of the Founding staff members at Caliber: ChangeMakers Academy and you can't miss his smiling face if you happen to pop in the cafeteria. Born in New York, Chris grew up in Vallejo and has also lived in Matsudo, Japan, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Jacques Pepin, Martin Yan, and the Cajun guy with suspenders were the first ones rousing his curiosity about cooking and he started cooking professionally in 2010. Leaving the restaurant industry was not an easy decision after working in the Bay Area and Los Angeles but he is excited to work with students in his hometown! Chris likes dogs and cats, Marvel and DC, Star Wars (NOT Episodes I-III) and Star Trek, but has no preference between Coen brothers. :) We appreciate Chris' dedication and passion for nourishing our students every day!
Words about Chris from his team:
All about Chris
1. What is your favorite thing about working at Caliber?
Working with kids from my hometown who remind me that Vallejo is such a diverse community full of possibility. The students say the funniest things. One minute a TK kid is intentionally calling me "Mr. Andrew" even though he really knows my name and by lunch time a middle school student is been calling me "Food Provider" which she has been doing since last year. I was seriously asked, "Are you the Lunch Lady?" When Preferred Meals food gets me down (you can't tell the difference between the pizza and the cardboard it's packaged in, kids), I just think about that and laugh.
2. What was your favorite subject growing up?
I didn't know it at the time, but I'd have to say English in high school because we all had a teacher named Mrs. Boyette freshman year who left a lasting impression. She was really tough on us (I saw a few students cry in class), but she made sure you spoke correctly, wrote clearly, and knew grammar. Then the next two years, most students had Mr. Kraft who made us write journal entries every day, even on the weekends if I remember correctly. He made us read Beowulf two years in a row, and I managed to forget everything about that short book. Sorry, Mr. Kraft!
3. What is your favorite memory associated with music?
My chef along Dave Chappelle's cousin got us backstage to see Black Star (Mos Def and Talib Kweli) at the Fox Theater in 2013. It was pretty memorable considering that we were watching on stage behind the curtain only 15-20 ft from the DJ and those two performers. I thought we were going to party with them afterwards, but we didn't. Our crew knew how to party, so that was Black Star's loss.
4. What is your dream vacation + what would you do there?
I already went on a dream vacation this year when I finally flew back to Japan for the first time since 2005 to see old friends. This trip also included meeting childhood friends from Vallejo in Osaka and taking a bullet train to Tokyo. We were there to celebrate all of us making it to 40 this year and ate some of the best food I've ever had in my life. I even got to feed deer in Nara near one of the oldest wooden structures in the whole country! Before Japan, I visited with my grandfather who is 95-years-old. For the next dream vacations, I'm definitely going to Spain, Korea, and Australia.
5. What is your favorite thing about the Bay Area?
The Bay Area and Vallejo are home. No matter where you go in the world, you come back here and have all these people and memories that have shaped who you are, so I'm sure most folks say the same about their hometowns. How can you not like these beautiful outdoors, amazing restaurants, artists from many disciplines, micro climates, and other good stuff here?
6. What's a fun fact that most people might not know about you?!
I played the violin not as a child but as freshman in college who never learned to play an instrument growing up. I was terrible at it even after practicing EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. There went my dreams of traveling the world as a concert musician back in 1997. Yes, I'm sure some of you teachers were born just a few years before that time. SIGH.
Chris, CMA is so lucky to have you!