Growing up on Long Island, Kevin’s love of cooking began in high school home economics class. Kevin elected to take four consecutive years of home economics, while his buddies were passing the time in wood shop. Early on after high school graduation, Kevin was working in a kitchen at a local restaurant, when the Chef recognized his inclination and potential for cooking and encouraged him to apply to the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, New York. After graduating from the CIA, Kevin was fortunate to have several opportunities to work with and learn from a few very talented chefs. He embraced these opportunities. One of his first experiences was at North Street Grill in Great Neck, Long Island, with Brendan Walsh, a pioneer of Regional American food in the 1980’s. He later relocated to San Francisco to work for Bradley Ogden, previously of Lark Creek Restaurant Group, at One Market Restaurant. Also in San Francisco, Kevin worked alongside Wolfgang Puck at Postrio. After leaving San Francisco and returning to New York, Kevin accepted an opportunity to work with James McDevitt, Food and Wine’s Best New Chef of 1999, at Four Food Studio in Melville, Long Island.
Slides Kevin and Natalie Better
Kevin’s love of cooking wasn’t the only thing that blossomed in his first year of high school. In ninth grade he developed a crush on Natalie Sarle, his current fiancee and co-owner of the Sliding Door Cafe. They had only one date, at a roller skating rink. Fast forward 30 years later, they reconnected online and were engaged six months later. Making Kevin wait several months after his initial message, Natalie decided to respond. Shortly after, Kevin relocated from Long Island to Southern California, where Natalie had been living, and they soon opened The Sliding Door Cafe in Balboa Village, Orange County. Although the restaurant does not literally have a sliding door, it was a sliding door (or several sliding doors) that led to the opening of the restaurant in October 2013. Based on the concept from the movie, The Sliding Door, the restaurant’s name came from the notion of how quickly a person’s life can change in a matter of moments by taking one path instead of another.
Chef Kevin currently overseas the kitchens at Mt Palomar Winery in Temecula Valley. 2018