From Info Technician to Barbecue Magician

In retrospect, Daversa's cooking success seems foregone, but there was a detour along the way: the IT years. Daversa said he generally liked the work, at a company founded by his brother Paul, and that he had a hard time quitting. But in more than a decade in the industry, he felt the tug of something else, a different way forward. And he found himself spending more and more time in his kitchen and backyard, experimenting with sauces and techniques.

"You know, it's kind of a long road," Daversa said. "I was in technology for about 13 years and my passion was always barbeque. You know every day after work I'd go home, light the grill up, you know and sometimes it would be two or three in the morning before I was done and I realized s*** -- sorry -- I have to wake up at you know, six in the morning to go back to the office. And I realized after a while that what I was doing wasn't my passion. And I quit my job at 29, went to culinary school and, knowing that I wanted to get into barbeque, not be just a traditional chef, and through that, I basically saw an ad on Craigslist and took my chance and wound up here."

Barbecue Magician: 'I Had This Big Void'

Daversa credited his wife, Kristin, with helping him make the switch.

"I had this big void, and my wife saw it," he said. "And she said that you need to do something that you love and you love to cook. You come home every night, why don't you, why don't you go to culinary school? ... She pushed me through that void and actually ... she helped me do all of the paperwork and go through all of the research, and a large part of it is due to the fact that she pushed me."

Not only did his wife help lead him to cooking ... cooking helped lead him to his wife.

"I met my wife skiing in Vermont," he said. "I rented an apartment with a bunch, like 30 other guys, and she rented an apartment right underneath us, with like 3 or 4 of her girls. Well, I'm not going to tell you the real story. But I will tell you most of the real story. But it had been a late night and we were partying, and the next morning I woke up and there was so many people in my house, I just wanted to cook breakfast, and my roommates were like, dude, there's some hot girls downstairs, you should go check it out.

"So I brought a pan and some eggs and some bacon and I went downstairs and I knocked on their door and I was like 'Hey, do you mind if I cook some breakfast, you know, I'll cook it for you.' And they were like, 'Absolutely, come on in!' And so that was the first time I met my wife and we've actually been together ever since."

Now settled in Hoboken, N.J., the couple don't have kids but do keep a family pet.

"My dog loves my food," Daversa said. "She licks my feet every day when I come home. It's one of my favorite things when I walk in the door. She goes straight for the chef shoes and licks them clean."

Daversa said feeding people good food makes him happy, but ultimately he cooks for himself.

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