Before Jamie Bissonnette could exceed the expectations of diners with innovative, flavor-packed tapas and paellas, there were familial expectations he had to prove wrong first. He confesses:

“A couple weeks ago my dad told me, ‘We’re so proud that you didn’t go to jail.'”
I said, ‘Dad, who thought I was going to jail?’
Well, everybody.”

As part of their video series Elevated—which gives an intimate look into the lives of chefs and the challenges they’ve overcome —our friends over at Chef’s Feed recently zeroed in on one of New York’s favorites: Jamie Bissonnette, the man behind Coppa and Toro. The award-winning cook opens up about his pissed-off youth in the hardcore punk scene and his transformation from a straight-edge vegan into a carnivorous connoisseur, thanks to his discovery of Spanish food.

“15-year-old me would definitely kick 37-year-old me’s ass, that’s for sure,” says Bissonnette. “Or at least try.”