Traveling Cowboy Chef

Cooking in a Typical Vietnamese Family Kitchen

Who the heck is this guy and what is he doing!  I get asked that all the time, and I got to say it was a challenge to come up with so here is the whole story!


A U.S. Army veteran turned culinary mastermind, Chef Formica, also known as “The Traveling Cowboy Chef,” has been evolving classic cuisine for more than a decade. Growing up in a family of chefs and restaurant managers, Formica swore off pursuing a career in food until he began cooking for friends during a period of recovery following a medical discharge from the military. In 2006, Formica embraced his true calling, attending The Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago to formalize his culinary training.

For his externship, Formica moved to Sorrento, Italy, to gain a deeper understanding of his Italian roots. He secured a spot in the kitchen with Master Chef Biagio Longo, who taught him the techniques and traditions of handmade pasta. After returning to the U.S., he was hired as Sous Chef at C-House, where he worked alongside the famed Chicago chef Marcus Samuelson.

Working his way up through the ranks of some of Chicago’s most notable restaurants, including Sunda and Homestead, and eventually on a larger scale as a corporate executive chef for national chain E+O Kitchen, Formica became an expert in several genres of cuisine. Heading back to Italy in 2015, he headed the kitchen for Su-Riso Poke, an international Japanese sushi restaurant with multiple locations throughout the country.

He currently resides in Venice, Calif., with his wife Elizabeth and Luna, their white boxer puppy. In his free time, Formica enjoys anything that allows him to be outdoors. He has a lifelong love of fishing and hunting, and also enjoys hiking, surfing and riding his Harley-Davidson as often as possible.

Currently working and traveling the world as a culinary consulting chef!

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