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Q & A With Alfred Portale

With Gotham Bar & Grill, Alfred Portale has successfully managed to build a 24-year old East Village institution with exemplary modern American fare.  Portale has earned numerous high accolades, including two
James Beard Awards and multiple 3-star reviews in the
New York Times.  This Wednesday, February 27th, the Careers through the
Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) is honoring him at their 10th
annual benefit dinner.  Not only a leader in the restaurant industry, but Portale also generously donates time to underserved high school students with culinary aspirations.

Portale produces some of the city’s finest “vertically-inclined”
dishes, including a roast squab with potato puree, sweet corn, snap
peas, pine nuts and a smoked ancho chile sauce as well as juniper-spiced
muscovy duck breast with sour cherries, butternut squash puree, foie
gras and an apple cider jus.

Status: Single/Married/Divorced

What did you want to be when you grew up?
Rock Star

How did you get into food?
Girls.  I started cooking in high school when I found it was
a good way to get girls to the house.

What was your first job in food?
At an Italian restaurant, in Buffalo.

What was the inspiration behind Gotham Bar and Grill and its modern American

It was in response to the formal fine dining that was in New York at the time.  I wanted to create a less formal, American version of the French 3-star Michelin restaurants where I trained in France.

Open for 24 years now, Gotham has become a timeless classic, an
achievement in and of itself in New York City.  How do you manage to keep the food so consistent and inspired?

It certainly isn’t only me.  Gotham is a team effort and it is a seven-day-a-week job to keep it fresh, innovative and consistent.  That’s it.  It is our job.

You’ve been praised for your “vertical cooking”.  What’s your
process behind creating so much depth in each dish? 

Respect for the
ingredients and the purity of flavor.

How do you feel about being honored at this year’s annual C-CAP Event?
C-CAP is a great organization, I’ve been involved with for 10 years and
being the honoree this year was a surprise and in fact an honor.

What’s your favorite dish on the menu right now?
Juniper Spiced Muscovy Duck

What’s your least favorite dish (and yes, you must pick one)?
The California Estate Caviar, I prefer our Osetra Caviar.

What is your junk food of choice? 
Lays Potato Chips

Other than your own, what’s your favorite restaurant in NYC?

What culinary trend do you most embrace?
Artisanal Cocktails….or just cocktails.

What trend do you wish would die already?
Molecular Cuisine

What’s next on the horizon for you?  Any new ventures or restaurants in
the works?  Spill the beans…

Sorry!  Nothing to spill!

Address: 12 E. 12th St. Btwn. 5th Ave. & Univ.

Until we eat again,
Restaurant Girl
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