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Q & A with Salinas Chef Luis Bollo

Posted on Mar 30, 2012 in Chef Q&A

It’s not easy to be a trailblazer in New York. Just ask Luis Bollo, the talented Basque chef who opened Meigas on Hudson Street over ten years ago. Bollo was the first chef to bring modernist Spanish cuisine, with its Ferran Adria-stamped foams and gels to Manhattan.  While reviewers were impressed by his innovative style, the mainstream audience wasn’t quite ready for molecular gastronomy and both Bolo and Meigas relocated to Connecticut after just two years. “When I opened Meigas, there were two radical ways of looking at Spanish cuisine: critics began to look at Spanish cooking as a novelty and an evolution, while the general public didn’t know more than old-fashioned tapas and paellas,” Bollo said.  But with the opening of Casa Mono, Boqueria and other tapas joints, New Yorkers have  come to embrace both traditional and modern Spanish cooking...

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Q&A with Empellon's Alex Stupak

Posted on Mar 23, 2012 in Chef Q&A

The thing about Alex Stupak is you never know what he’s going to do next. Which is why he’s one of the most exciting chefs in the country right now.  I mean who walks away from an acclaimed career in pastry at wd-50 to open a taqueria, nevermind that he’s not even from Mexico? And just a few weeks ago, he opened his second restaurant, Empellon Cocina, in under a year. Stupak has once again defied convention with his new, taco-less Mexican spot, where he dares to explores the possibilities of Mexican cooking with pairings, like sea urchin mousse and masa or scallops with huitlacoche (Mexican truffles) and rutabaga. Nowadays, Stupak leaves the desserts up to his wife, Lauren, who works alongside him at Empellon Cocina. But when asked if he misses being a pastry chef, he says, “I...

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Q&A with Bobo's Cedric Tovar

Posted on Mar 16, 2012 in Chef Q&A

If you haven’t heard, there’s been a major kitchen shuffle at Bobo, the stunning, West Village townhouse restaurant with its own garden and working fireplace. But that’s no longer the biggest draw. Enter chef Cedric Tovar, who’s cooked with everyone from Joel Robuchon to Geoffrey Zakarian at Town and even helmed the kitchen at Peacock Alley. Tovar grew up in Alsace, France where he dined on rabbit grilled on dried vine shoots and snacked on grapes that he and his friends would swipe from neighborhood vineyards. “I was surrounded by beautiful products,” Tovar said. “When my mom and grandma were cooking, I was always in the kitchen, so I was naturally drawn to cooking.” Though Tovar flirted with the idea of becoming a motorcycle racer, he decided to pursue cooking, leading him to New York. Now Cedric Tovar is using...

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Q&A with Chef Mathieu Palombino

Posted on Mar 7, 2012 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

What will Mathieu Palombino — the chef behind Motorino and the new Bowery Diner — be doing in ten years?  “Farming oysters in Long Island,” he tells us.  But for now, he’s busy building an eclectic restaurant empire and perfecting his reuben sandwich.   Palombino has some pretty strong opinions on all things food.  On the subject of molecular gastronomy, he says, “I mean, are they really serious about this? I just see all of this energy and passion channeled into unnatural food experiments.  It was an attempt to make the world more food-forward, but I don’t think it worked.  Also, people eating strange animal parts.  I just don’t get it.”   You have to admire this dogmatic, Belgium-born chef for following his passions.  It’s not often you see a chef who trained with Paul Bocuse, Thomas Keller and Laurent...

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Q&A with Catch's Pastry Chef Thiago Silva

Posted on Feb 28, 2012 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

Chefs aren’t exactly the most normal people in the world. Case in point: Thiago Silva who went from singing at the New York City Opera to baking cakes for the likes of Sofia Vergara and the Knicks’ Amare Stoudemire. Lately, he’s been impressing guests at Catch (myself included) with his creative riffs on classic childhood desserts, like his Peanut Butter Cup Soufflé or Chocolate Brownie Cake with Tres Leches Ice Cream and Bourbon Chocolate Sauce. But what most people aren’t familiar with is Silva’s gift for creating cakes so beautiful and extravagant they look more like art. In fact, he has aspirations to start his own cake design company someday. If I had to choose [between designing cakes and making plated desserts], I’d choose designing cakes,” said, Silva who added that his favorite creation is his rose wine bottle cake....

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Q&A with The Man Behind Kutsher's Tribeca

Posted on Feb 21, 2012 in Chef Q&A

Sure, Jewish deli food is suddenly in fashion with places, like Mile End, smoking their own meats and baking their own breads.  But Zach Kutsher decided to take it to a whole new level when he opened an upscale Jewish bistro of sorts called Kutsher’s in Tribeca. How many restaurateurs would dare add caviar to potato pancakes or use wild halibut to make gefilte fish?  Kutsher turned nostalgia for his family’s Jewish country club in the Catskills (a real-life version of Dirty Dancing’s Kellerman’s) into a pioneering Jewish-American bistro in Tribeca. New Yorkers can’t get enough of his updated Kutsher’s, which adds wild mushrooms to knishes, makes their own syrups in house, and transforms chocolate babka into bread pudding. ‘ But other than running the Children’s Dining Room as a youngster at his parents’ Kutsher’s Country Club, Zach is a relative newcomer...

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Q & A With Anne Burrell

Posted on Jan 10, 2012 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

With her spiky blonde hair and signature cowgirl skirt, chef Anne Burrell doesn’t quite fit the part of supporting character.  Yet, until 2007, that’s what she played as Mario Batali’s sous chef on Iron Chef America.  Before that, she trained in Tuscany, then returning to New York, worked under Lidia Bastianich at Felidiaand taught at I.C.E. for three years.But 2007 has been a very good year for Burrell: She not only made an impressive debut at Centro Vinoteca, but also inherited Gusto’s kitchen.  Amidst a new wave of Italian trattorias, Anne distinguished herself with her  “piccolini,” featuring truffled devil eggs, fried cauliflower wedges and eggplant cakes dabbed with ricotta.  She also delivers an excellent fennel pollen-crusted pork chop and rabbit involtino. Status: Single/Married/Divorced Very single What did you want to be when you grew up? Julia Child What was...

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Q & A With Jonathan Waxman

Posted on Sep 26, 2011 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

How do you keep your reservation book full for over a decade? Ask Jonathan Waxman.  He’s managed to turn his West Village restaurant, Barbuto, into a vibrant New York staple.  An outstanding roast chicken might have a lot to do with all of the success.  Ironically, that’s the one dish he’d like to take off the menu, but it’s just too popular.  The California-raised chef worked in the illustrious kitchens of Chez Panisse and Michael’s in California before moving to New York to revolutionize the food scene with his seasonal American cooking. Waxman’s written two cookbooks and was also a contestant on Top Chef Masters season two. Not bad for a former busboy who dreamed of hitting it big as a funk-rock musician.  More importantly, he’s one of the few chefs that’s managed to do it all.  When you...

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Q & A with Chef Marcus Samuelsson

Posted on Jul 22, 2011 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

Marcus Samuelsson has always been a trailblazer.  He first made a name for himself at Aquavit with his innovative approach to Scandinavian cuisine, then left to the midtown restaurant to open Manhattan’s first pan-African spot, Merkato 55.  But Red Rooster is his biggest accomplishment to date. Just this past year, Samuelsson brought American comfort food and its many traditions to Harlem, and with it put this uptown neighborhood on the culinary map.   “The most gratifying thing about the restaurant is the impact Red Rooster Harlem is having on the community and how it’s changed the footprint of the New York City dining scene,” Samuelsson says. This week, Samuelsson is heading upstate for Chefs & Champagne, an annual tasting event sponsored by the James Beard Foundation. “It’s such a great tradition and a very fun event,” Samuelsson said. “I...

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Q & A with Hill Country's Elizabeth Karmel

Posted on Jul 20, 2011 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

Elizabeth Karmel is on a mission. The North Carolina born chef has spent much of her career encouraging women to barbecue, founding a website called “Girls at the Grill,” writing cookbooks, and of course, running the kitchen at Hill Country — one of New York’s best barbecue joints.  Hill Country is famous for its Texas meat market-style atmosphere and Karmel’s exceptional brisket, chicken and ribs. So it’s not surprising that Karmel has her fair share of male fans as well. “Forty percent of my Girls at the Grill readers are men,” Karmel says. “Underneath the girl-centric speak, men realized there was a lot of great outdoor cooking information, tips and recipes on the site.” Grilling enthusiasts can also sample her southern cooking at this week’s Chefs and Champagne, a James Beard Foundation tasting event, which will be held this,...

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Q & A With Xi'an Famous Foods' Jason Wang

Posted on Jun 28, 2011 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

Jason Wang has big plans for his family business, Xi’an Famous Foods. In fact, what began as a basement food stall in Flushing, Queens has quickly become a city-wide chain and now he’s determined to make expand across the country.  The 23-year-old business school graduate is the brains behind this unique, Chinese food empire, specializing in home-style dishes from the city of Xi’an.  Thanks to Wang, there are now four outposts to get their famous, cumin-rich lamb dishes and hand-pulled noodles.  There’s even a Brooklyn wholesale market in the works, where restaurants will be able to purchase frozen versions of their signature dishes.   “I think Xi’an Famous Foods is making a difference in the world of Chinese cuisine,” Wang says. “When I joined my father right out of college, I did not see it as what it was...

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Q & A with Imperial No 9's Sam Talbot

Posted on Jun 1, 2011 in Chef Q&A

It’s nearly impossible not to notice Sam Talbot.  He first got our attention competing on Top Chef and has been making waves in New York ever since.  A bit of a beach bum, Talbot headed Montauk to open The Surf Lodge, where he gave us a preview of his ocean-to-table cooking.  But with Imperial No. 9, he proves he has staying power, and more importantly, a talent for cooking globally-inspired seafood.   As for his critics, Talbot says, “My mother thinks I’m a good cook. If she’s stoked, the rest can…”  (Enough said.) If running two kitchens weren’t enough, Talbot also has a cookbook coming out this October with a focus on eco-responsibility and heart healthy cooking.  Would he ever consider doing television again?   “Hell, yes,” he answers. Single/Married/Divorced I am happily engaged to two beauts: The Surf Lodge and...

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A Talk With Taste Of The Nation's Chefs Dan Kluger & Amanda Cohen

Posted on May 22, 2011 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

Tonight, May 23rd, is a very big night for the food world.  It’s not often you can drag 45 of the city’s best chefs out of their kitchens, never mind get them all in the same room to demonstrate their culinary talents. But this is a great cause: It’s Share Our Strength’s Taste of The Nation, which raises money to end childhood hunger across the country.  If you can’t get a reservation at ABC Kitchen, Blue Hill, Eleven Madison Park, Roberta’s, Kin Shop, Tia Pol, Dirt Candy ,and the list goes on and on, you might want to grab a ticket to this momentous tasting event.  We got a chance to talk with ABC Kitchen’s chef Dan Kluger, who’s still celebrating with Jean-Georges and the rest of the staff, this year’s James Beard award for Best New Restaurant. (I...

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Q & A With 10 Downing's Chef Jonnathan Leiva

Posted on May 10, 2011 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

If you haven’t eaten dinner at 10 Downing in the past few months, you might want to revisit.  Jonnatan Leiva earned three stars cooking at Jack Falstaff in San Francisco, which shuttered last May.  But San Francisco’s loss is New York’s gain because Leiva moved East to head up the kitchen at 10 Downing.  While this restaurant has seen more than its fair share of chefs, including Jason Neroni, this may be its best hire yet.   Jonnatan describes his cooking as “Californian with global inspirations” with dishes like striped bass ceviche, Argentine-style grilled short rib with romanesco & chimichurri sauce, and a coconut curry pot pie. Single/Married/Divorced I am very happily engaged.What’s your go-to farmers market in the city? I like to go the Union Square GreenMarket, but Brooklyn has some great ones as well. How would you...

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Q & A With Ciano's Shea Gallante

Posted on May 3, 2011 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

Chef Shea Gallante got a pretty early start in the restaurant business. In fact, he opened his first restaurant -a pizzeria named Augustino’s in his hometown in upstate New York -at the age of nineteen.  “I thought that I was going to be the big shot,” Gallante says. “But I realized how little I actually knew and how much I wanted to learn.”  That same year, he was accepted in the Culinary Institute of America, so he made the tough decision to close his pizzeria. After graduating from culinary school, he went on to work in some of the top Italian kitchens in the country, including Lidia Bastianich’s Felidia.  Being named Chef de Cuisine at Bouley in 2001 was a real turning point in his career and Gallante went on to helm the kitchen at Cru, a Michelin-starred eatery that closed...

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Q & A With Porsena's Sara Jenkins

Posted on Apr 25, 2011 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

Chef Sara Jenkins has successfully pulled off a hat trick in the East Village.  She runs three wildly popular restaurants, all located within just a few block radius  Veloce, Porchetta, and Porsena, her newest, pasta-centric venture, which opened in November.  Each of her eateries specializes in a different Italian staple  pizza, roast suckling pig sandwiches, and noodles.  The single concept focus has paid off for the chef: “It wasn’t a conscious decision to do these types of restaurants, but the advantage is that you can really concentrate on doing one thing well,” Jenkins says.   Jenkins has three hit restaurants and is looking to open more Porchetta outposts around the city. This from a woman who grew up in Tuscany, surrounded by farmers with no electricity and no running water. She may even write a memoir: “I would really like to...

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Q & A with Chef Masaharu Morimoto

Posted on Apr 22, 2011 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

It’s fair to say that no one in America (and perhaps the world) can cook Japanese food quite like Chef Masaharu Morimoto. The original Iron Chef & former Nobu chef is just as skilled at turning out traditional sushi and kaiseki meals as he is at Asian fusion.  (And it takes a lot for a chef to convince me of the merits of fusion.)  And yet, somehow whimsical creations, such as sashimi with burrata or a foie gras croissant with a soft duck egg and red miso achieve a level of brilliance. The Hiroshima-born culinary superstar went from being a bad boy, who used to sneak out a window to go downtown when he was an apprentice in Japan, to owning restaurants all over the world, everywhere from New York to New Delhi. While he no longer returns to...

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Q & A with Veritas's Chef Sam Hazen

Posted on Apr 7, 2011 in Chef Q&A

Chef Sam Hazen has a history of proving people wrong. When he was first starting out at  Le Gavroche in London, the French chefs dubbed him “Chef McDonald” because they didn’t think the lone American in the kitchen could cook. Six months later, he was their boss.  And twenty years later, Hazen proved naysayers wrong again by successfully transitioning from the trendy, super-sized Tao in midtown to the intimate setting of Veritas in Gramercy.  “People were skeptical in the beginning,” Hazen said. “But nothing is impossible and Veritas is testimony to that.” Hazen re-opened and revitalized the 11-year-old Veritas this year, creating a new menu of indulgent dishes, like brioche-crusted lobster with roasted bone marrow and the newly acclaimed roast chicken. But just like the Veritas that rose to prominence under Chef Scott Bryan, Hazen’s restaurant focuses on pairing...

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Q&A With 15-Year-Old Chef Greg Grossman

Posted on Mar 13, 2011 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

Greg Grossman isn’t your typical teenager. He’s a culinary prodigy with a career that some seasoned professional chefs might envy.  At the age of fifteen, he’s already headed up a catering company in the Hamptons,  launched a culinary research group, and recently returned from Spain where he attended Madrid Fusion with Gerry Dawes and ate at Ferran Adria’s elBulli just a few months before it officially became the elBulli foundation.  Oh, and he’s still in high school. This weekend, Grossman showcased his cooking skills at The Feast’s Pop Art Pop-Up dinner in the Sanctuary Hotel.  You may remember that Seamus Mullen, who was the opening chef at Boqueria, cooked at their first pop up dinner.  So Grossman’s in impressive company. The menu for Grossman’s restaurant, which ran from March 10th to Saturday, March 12th, was inspired by artists, like Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons. This was an...

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Q & A With SHO's Shaun Hergatt

Posted on Mar 7, 2011 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

Shaun Hergatt is either brave or crazy.  This Australian chef dared open SHO amidst the economic recession, in the heart of Wall Street nonetheless. While critics were busy declaring fine dining dead, he defied the odds, receiving a Michelin star and two stars from the New York Times.  Hergatt’s Financial District eatery is still going strong, due in large part to his, innovative French-Asian cooking. “When you fuse the techniques and creaminess found in French cooking to the Asian flavor profile, you get a fusion that just works on the palette,” Hergatt explains. But he readily admits a soft spot for comfort food.  When he’s craving Southeast Asian on his night off, Hergatt dines out at Nha Trang (one of our favorites, too) located in Chinatown. Single/Married/Divorced? Married What was your first job in food and what did you learn? When I was 17, I did a four-year apprenticeship at a...

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