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In 1986, following completion of a year of college, he took a break from school and traveled to America, settling initially in Rye. He soon moved to New Jersey after gaining employment at a Garden State country club in Plainfield. This led to an entry level position in the kitchen of the prestigious 100-year-old Hollywood Golf Club in Deal, NJ. Here he was introduced to fine dining, lavish Sunday brunches and elegant catered affairs. In 1989, he joined another prominent golf-oriented club, the Waccabuc Country Club on Lake Waccabuc in Lewisboro, NY. During five years of employment, he rose steadily in responsibility and had advanced to sous chef when he left in 1994 to start a Mexican restaurant in MOUNT KISCO called Azteca. This presented a formidable challenge. He had no business management experience. He hadn't even cooked Mexican food since arriving in Amer ica at the age of 19. He had worked in kitchens that catered to upscale diners and had prepared American, Italian and French dishes and meals of other origins, but rarely Mexican. Azteca's patrons were expected to be 95 percent Hispa nic.