Featured Chef Sam Burgess
(1) Where were you born /raised?
Born in Denver but grew up in South Jersey.
(2) How long have you been a chef?
I have worked in restaurants and catering since 2012 and been a chef since 2018.
(3) How did you get into cooking?
I LOVE FOOD! I was one of the youngest to compete in community bake-offs just to see how my skills compared to other home bakers. I always thought food brought people together, so it was more than just a career choice, but a lifestyle to cook.
(4) Who most influenced you?
Family first, my girlfriend, and the great chefs I have worked under at restaurants and operations in New England. Plus the culinary instructors at JWU who have always supported me and my endeavors!
(5) Describe your career path, including education.
After graduating from a Culinary & Hospitality technical program in high school, I attended Johnson & Wales University (JWU) for Culinary Nutrition, Food Science, and Product Development. During school I invested a lot of time in clubs and volunteering at culinary events, giving me a great network of peers and professionals, which led to lots of opportunity. I lived the hustle and worked as a food magazine intern, wood-fired caterer, farmers market manager, start-up co-founder, live demonstration chef, and product developer in a CPG laboratory.
After graduating JWU I was hired in 2018 as a Recipe Development Chef for FLIK Hospitality, where I would audit, write, and test 300+ recipes for a variety of foodservice accounts. My corporate position was furloughed and eventually eliminated due to the COVID-19 pandemic in April 2020. I quickly pivoted and started testing, photographing, and publishing original recipes for Forge To Table’s Test Kitchen recipe blog, as well as for RI Mushroom Company. I also continue to do catering prep & events with Sweet Peas Catering LLC.
(6) Tell me about your restaurant/club.
Forge To Table (est. 2017) is a high-end cutlery company dedicated to quality, affordability, and chef-driven style in our blades. We are loved by home cooks and professionals for our light, sharp VG10 steel blades, designed in Laguna Beach, CA, and produced by a family forge in Yangjiang, China. Beyond designing and distributing our knives, we work to empower culinarians around the world with incredible recipes and cooking tips, found on the Forge To Table Test Kitchen.
I have been Northeastern Representative and Lead Test Chef spearheading the recipe development and production schedule for Forge To Table since April 2020 in Providence, RI. I work on forging meaningful partnerships with ingredient purveyors and finding upcoming chef creators to feature on our Test Kitchen. There is a lot of room to grow and I am ecstatic to see how far we will go!
(7) What do you like most about your job?
I love the creativity and freedom that I have writing and producing recipes. Obviously, there are some parameters for what we want to accomplish and feature with each recipe, but it is all about finding the next big thing before it happens. It’s great to spend a day cooking, shooting photos, and inspiring clean cooking while pushing the boundaries Japanese-style hand-forged knives can do!
(8) What is the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part of working with Forge To Table is deciding what to do next. We are a company led by young minds, so sometimes we need to think beyond our years and multitask in order to meet our goals.
(9) What does it take to become a great chef?
A great chef is someone who stays calm under fiery circumstances and always brings passion to their plate. A great chef cooks for the love of food, heritage, and community. We cook to share!
(10) What is your favorite meal?
Such a tough question! Off the top of my head, something as simple as the Italian combo grinder on fresh baked bread with salsa verde from Italian Corner in East Providence, RI. I also love fresh falafel & tzatziki, roasted bone marrow with herb salad & toast, al pastor tacos, and Thai pad see ew.
(11) What do you do in your free time?
In my free time I love to home brew beer, plan & tend vegetable/fruit/herb gardens, go for drives, and eat at local restaurants. I plan compete in homebrew competitions once I get confident in my brewing skills! I have also started working to revitalize the website and social media presence for my neighborhood organization, the Summit Neighborhood Association in Providence, RI.
(12) Please describe your experience with Jurgielewicz Duck
I first tasted the Jurgielewicz Duck at the Dole & Bailey Chef’s Night Out event in May 2019 and completely fell in love! The quality is incredible, not to mention the fantastic sausage, pekin duck, duck fat, and duck legs. It is a treat to work with and I’m glad to have the opportunity to feature the duck in some of Forge To Table’s original recipes.