An Atlanta native who was fascinated with food from a young age, Szlam earned a degree at the California Culinary Academy’s Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Program. After graduation Szlam remained in California and worked with the renowned Daniel Humm, Chef Melissa Perello, Chef Roland Passot of the Michelin-starred La Folie, and culinary pioneer Alice Waters of Chez Panisse. 
In 2006, Szlam returned to the South to open his own restaurant, Cordavi, in Charleston, South Carolina. Cordavi received national recognition and praise shortly after its debut and was named one of twenty best new restaurants in the country by Esquire in 2006. 
Szlam continued to grow his knowledge of the food and beverage industries over the next several years and helped develop and open numerous other restaurant concepts. With his passion for sharing new ways to enjoy simple ingredients, Szlam created Virgil Kaine Ginger Infused Bourbon in 2011. In 2013, he partnered with another former Charleston chef, Ryan Meany, to expand the brand.