When did you start training to be a cook?

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Unofficially, I've been training since birth. I'm from Alabama, and in the South cooking is about sharing experiences. There's a lot of love and care in Southern cooking. Officially, though, I started cooking my way through college to earn an English degree, and I ended up a certified chef instead. I've been in food for 22 years now.

So you're a chef?

Yes, but I prefer being called a cook. Chef sounds too uppity. I'm actually a professor of culinary arts, but I'm on sabbatical at the moment to check out what's going on outside the classroom and in the kitchen.

How did you end up at Roxy's?

I've been a regular here since it opened in Fremont—about five years. The place kind of drew me in; I was eating here every weekend because the food is incredible and the staff has a great camaraderie with customers. It just always struck me as a place you'd want to work; so when I saw that there was a weekend shift available, I jumped at it.

Is it everything you dreamed of and more?

I've never felt as comfortable in a space. You're really allowed to breathe here; the owners trust the staff and really value our opinions. There's a really great cohesion.

And the food?

It's amazing. Our menu is huge, everything is absolutely fresh, and we cook our own pastrami and corned beef in-house. The menu is pretty collaborative; everyone who cooks has input, and Lisa, our manager, puts it all together. We always have great specials; right now we're offering eggnog pancakes.

Any other favorites?

When it's raining, I prefer the huevos rancheros because it's a lot brighter than what's going on outside.