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Q & A With Park Avenue Chef Kevin Lasko

Posted on Feb 27, 2011 in Chef Q&A

Chef Kevin Lasko’s  career trajectory is proof that anything is possible in the kitchen.  Lasko has come a long way from working as a short order cook at the Jersey Shore to working for Jean-Georges Vongerichten at the Mercer Kitchen in just a few years.   “I didn’t even know who Jean-Georges was when I first started,” Lasko admits.  “But the food was just so much better than anything I had ever seen.” Lasko is now the executive chef at the uber-seasonal Park Avenue restaurant, planning a new, seasonally-driven menu four times a year. “That’s the biggest challenge,” Lasko said. “Trying to figure out the next season’s menu and developing new dishes when there are no products available from the next season.”  While it may be a bit of a challenge, Lasko will soon get to plan for his favorite incarnation:...

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Q & A with Porter House's & C-CAP Honoree Michael Lomonaco

Posted on Feb 16, 2011 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

Chef Michael Lomonaco, a veteran of the New York restaurant scene, helped pioneer New American cooking in this country.  He commanded the kitchen at the 21 Club and Windows on the World until 9/11.  Nowadays, Lomonaco is the chef/owner of Porter House, a classic American steakhouse, located in the Time Warner Center. More importantly, chef Lomonaco’s accomplishments aren’t confined to the kitchen.  He’s also been a mentor with the Careers Through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP), which awards culinary schools scholarships to high school students and helps them get jobs in the industry. This year, C-CAP is honoring Lomonaco for generous contributions to the program for the past twenty years.  The reception will take place at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers this Wednesday, February 16th, with appetizers prepared by some of New York’s best chefs, including Michael White, Marcus Samuelsson and Dan Barber. How...

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Q & A with Chef Alain Allegretti

Posted on Feb 1, 2011 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

Chef Alain Allegretti may have been named Eater’s sexiest chef, but he’s much more than just a pretty face. The French ex-pat debuted on the New York dining scene more than 10 years ago as the co-executive chef at Le Cirque and followed that gig up with his own eponymous restaurant, Allegretti.  It was there New Yorkers fell in love with his Provencal cooking, particularly his fish soup.  Sadly, the restaurant closed and Alain Allegretti was a chef without a kitchen.  He returns to the restaurant world at La Petite Maison, an offshoot of a famous restaurant in southern France. Seeing as Allegretti grew up in Nice, he was the perfect candidate to oversee the kitchen at their first, stateside outpost.  “I was essentially tailor-made for LPM,” Allegretti says.  Let’s hope they can break the curse of the 54th...

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Q & A With Turks & Frogs' Osman Cakir

Posted on Jan 25, 2011 in Chef Q&A

Osman Cakir had no intentions of becoming a restaurateur.  He began his career as an antique collector. One day, he decided to transform his West Village shop into what maybe believe was New York’s first wine bar, Turks & Frogs.  Cakir designed every inch of the Turks and Frogs in the West Village and Tribeca, as well as the interior of his newly opened cocktail bar, Orient Express.  This gorgeous spot in the West Village, outfitted with bronze luggage racks and wood paneling, is modeled after the European train of the same name. Cakir is currently developing a Turks & Frogs wine label, made with Turkish grapes, of course. He’s so passionate about bringing good Turkish wine to American that he calls it “a cultural mission.”  Until his wines debut, you can sample Turkish wines or cocktails called, The...

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Q & A with RBC NYC's Director Cora Lambert

Posted on Jan 19, 2011 in Chef Q&A

New York’s not typically late in the game to anything.  But places like Seattle and Portland were setting trends in coffee before us.  Finally, New Yorkers are taking their coffee more seriously than ever.   There’s options far beyond Starbuck’s  nowadays, like Stumptown, Intelligentsia and Cafe Grumpy.  But for hard-core coffee fanatics, none quite compare to RBC NYC in Tribeca, or more specifically, to its Slayer an$ 18,000 custom made espresso machine.   This high-tech piece of equipment needs a skilled operator, which is where Cora Lambert comes in. Lambert, the coffee director at RBC NYC, oversees the art of stellar coffee here.  She controls the brewing pressure of the Slayer to alter drinks’ flavor and body.  To coffee drinkers, that’s a big responsibility.  One of her most popular creations is the Vietnamese coffee, which is made with both sweetened...

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Q & A with Locanda Verde's Josh Nadel

Posted on Nov 30, 2010 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

Locanda Verde is a lovable restaurant for many reasons, like lamb meatball sliders, fire-roasted garlic chicken, outstanding desserts and a terrific and extremely affordable wine list. While most people associate Locanda Verde with chef Andrew Carmellini, Beverage Director Josh Nadel also has a lot to do with the restaurant’s success. Though he may not look it, Nadel’s practically a veteran in the New York restaurant scene.  He earned praise as a sommelier at both Cru and Veritas before joining Andrew Carmellini at Locanda Verde in the Greenwich Hotel.  To think, he had no formal training whatsoever.  Instead, he taught himself traveling through Italy and on the job, quickly becoming one of the best sommeliers in the country.  (I’ve personally discovered some of my new favorites at dinner at Locanda, like the Rivolta Falanghina 2008.  The menu also features some...

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Bar 44's Martha Washington's Rum Punch

Posted on Nov 5, 2010 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

Ingredients 15 oz Fresh Lemon Juice 15 oz Fresh Orange Juice 15 oz Spiced Simple Syrup 15 oz Flor de Cana 4yr Rum 20 oz Appleton 12yr Extra Rum 10 oz Orange Curacao Nutmeg Preparation Present punch bowl with ice to the guest. Add all ingredients to Parisian shakers with two small tins worth of crushed ice. Shake till ice dissipates. Then deliver to table and pour. Finish with full lemon and half orange wheels and fresh grated nutmeg. Address: The Royalton Hotel, 44 West 44th St., btwn 5th & 6th Aves. Phone:...

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Q & A with Chef Seamus Mullen

Posted on Oct 21, 2010 in Chef Q&A

Chef Seamus Mullen played a crucial role in the tapas trend that hit New York, back in 2006. After all, it was Mullen who ran the kitchen at Boqueria, where he served classic Spanish tapas with a distinctly seasonal twist.  Having recently left his executive chef post at Boqueria, Mullen is now a free agent, and this may just be his break out moment. While he’s well known for flare for Spanish food, he’s also well versed in cuisines from all over the map, including Indian.  In fact, he spent time in Tabla’s kitchen with Floyd Cardoz and he’s  crafted a Mediterranean-inspired menu for Crudo.  This Thursday, October 21st through the 23rd, Mullen will be cooking at The Feast, a 1920s-inspired pop-up restaurant. “I am really intrigued by the 1920s,” Mullen explains. “I think of it as a golden...

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Q&A with Po's Steven Crane

Posted on Oct 18, 2010 in Chef Q&A

It’s not easy to open a restaurant in New York, and it’s even harder to keep it open after the newness has worn off.  But Po has managed to not only survive the New York dining scene, but also thrive and even get better with age.  After two decades, Po is still going strong, which has a lot to do with its owner, Steven Crane.  When Po first opened, Crane was partnered with chef Mario Batali, who also helmed the kitchen.  Though Batali’s no longer in the picture, the restaurant is still going strong.   Crane has managed to keep Po relevant with its phenomenally fresh pastas, seasonal menu and commitment to neighborhood  purveyors. But Crane started out as a dish washer in the Jersey Shore in the 1970’s.  He worked in California waiting tables for several years, then moved...

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Q & A with Aquavit's Marcus Jenmark

Posted on Sep 29, 2010 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

Aquavit Chef Marcus Jenmark says he wants to be, “the ambassador of Scandinavian food in New York.”  He’s already off to a great start.  After traveling the world showcasing Swedish ingredients and cooking techniques as part of a venture called Culinary Sweden, the former hockey player got a job as a chef for the Swedish Consulate in Manhattan. And now he’s on an even bigger stage, Aquavit, where Chef Marcus Samuelsson first broke out on the city’s culinary scene. Since taking over as head chef this year, Chef Jenmark has reinvented Aquavit’s menu by introducing more traditional Scandinavian fare.  His cooking his classic, yet imaginative, like bone marrow-crusted lobster, Berkshire pork loin with sweet corn creme, summer succotash and poached fig in a foie gras broth.    Single/Married/Divorced?
Married, and we’re expecting a little one any day now!What did you...

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Q & A with Tiella's Peppe Castellano

Posted on Sep 22, 2010 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

If you’re from the Boston area, you’re probably familiar with Gran Gusto’s terrifically thin-crusted pizzas.  Peppe Castellano not only made a name for himself with his pizzas, but also his flair for seafood.  But if you come to New York peddling pizzas, they better be exceptional.  “In New York, it’s the war of the pizza,” says Chef Pepe Castellano.  Instead of pizza, Castellano is focusing on Neopolitan cooking, minus the trademark pizzas, at Tiella, his new restaurant located on the Upper East Side.  Instead of pizza, you’ll find stracciatella with truffles, spinach flan with a sweet gorgonzola sauce, and butternut squash risotto with shrimp and mint.  While most chefs are buying local Castellano imports 80% of his ingredients from Italy. Single/Married/Divorced Engaged. What did you want to be when you grew up? I always wanted to be a chef. ...

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Q & A With Lure's Josh Capon

Posted on Sep 7, 2010 in Chef Q&A

How many great seafood restaurants have bragging rights to a terrific burger?   Lure Fishbar does and Chef Josh Capon has a lot to do it.  His burger won the people’s choice award at last year’s New York Wine and Food Festival.   In fact, this fall, restaurateur John McDonald and Josh Capon are teaming up again to open a burger bar called Burger and Barrel in Soho, which will serve small steaks and chicken paillard.  Pretty impressive for a guy who used to cook chicken parm for his fraternity brothers at University of Maryland.   Capon has proved himself a versatile chef, as talented with seafood as he is with meat.  Capon trained under Charlie Palmer at Aureole and David Burke, who he credits as his mentor.  “David Burke taught me how to have fun with food,” he explains.  His...

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Q & A with Four and Twenty Blackbirds’ Melissa and Emily Elsen

Posted on Aug 31, 2010 in Chef Q&A

The sisters behind Brooklyn’s favorite pie shop, Four and Twenty Blackbirds, have baking in their genes.   While growing up in South Dakota, Melissa and Emily Elsen learned the craft from their Grandma Liz, who baked all the pies for their family’s restaurant in South Dakota.  She taught the Elsen sisters the importance of using seasonal, fresh fruit and the secrets to a phenomenal crust.  Our favorites are the caramel apple pie with a thick, sea-salt studded crust and pear ginger pie.  Brooklyn may be thousands of miles from South Dakota, but the Elsen sisters kept their grandmother’s lessons close when they began running a pie business out of their Crown Heights apartment. They opened their shop this past year and got immediate praise from the New York Times for their take on this classic American dessert.  Melissa and Emily’s pies feature the freshest fruits of each season...

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Q & A with Annisa's Anita Lo

Posted on Aug 24, 2010 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

Opening your own restaurant is a daunting task in and of itself, but Anita Lo had to open Annisa twice.  Last year, a fire destroyed her thriving West Village eatery.  And just a few months earlier, she closed Bar-Q, another one of her restaurants.  Instead of calling it a day, she started over again and rebuilt Annisa from the ground up.  She and her partner even hired a feng shui consultant to clear the “bad energy” in the space.  Second time around, Annisa’s just as successful and beloved by New Yorkers.  She’s revived her now-classic, foie gras soup dumplings and miso-marinated sable in a bonito broth and added seasonal newcomers, like softshell crabs with summer squash, lardo and sea urchin.  Following her appearance on Top Chef Masters, she says she’s still suffering from “Post-Traumatic Top Chef disorder” and next...

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Q & A with The Local Store's Richele Benway

Posted on Aug 3, 2010 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

How often do you stumble upon a local store in the middle of midtown Manhattan?   This just might be the first.  Chef-owner Richele Benway has brought a quaint sensibility to midtown east with The Local Store, a new restaurant & wine bar, that serves creative sandwiches and small plates made from locally sourced, farm-fresh ingredients.  The menu changes three times a day, and features simple, but elegant dishes, like roasted tomatoes with garlic scape and goat cheese, corn chowder and gazpacho.   Benway earned her culinary chops working for some of New York’s best chefs, including Gotham Bar & Grill’s Alfred Portale, whom she credits as one of her mentors.  So why open a local store in New York City?  “I knew there would be no other place like it,” she says.  You can’t argue with that, and the neighborhood...

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Q & A with Perbacco's Chef Simone Boneli

Posted on Jul 27, 2010 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

Most chefs dream of becoming a chef in New York, but not Simone Bonelli who grew up in Modena, Italy.   “I had never been to New York City, and I never really wanted to come either. I always thought it was too noisy and crowded for me to like living there,” Bonelli says.   But when the owners of Perbacco asked him to head up the ktichen at their East Village enoteca, Bonelli couldn’t pass up the opportunity to strut his culinary talents abroad.  And it’s a good thing he made the move, considering the rave reviews he’s received for his progressive take on homestyle Italian cooking there. Perbacco’s original menu showcases dishes from all over Italy in a modern light, but Bonelli’s favorite regional cooking is Sicilian.  “They have all the extremely traditional ingredients that I love,...

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Q & A With Kelvin Slushies

Posted on Jul 21, 2010 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

Alex Rein has always secretly loved slushies, but the former lawyer thought the 7-11-style drink wasn’t quite sophisticated enough to bring back to the office.  “It’s hard to be taken seriously as an adult if you are walking down the street and drinking a bright blue slushie,” he explains.  So Rein left law and started Kelvin Natural Slush Co., a Manhattan-based truck that sells gourmet versions of his favorite frozen snack.  His slushies incorporate real fruit purees and let customers mix-and-match to create unique concoctions, like blood orange with ginger and white peach with tea. Rein didn’t have much experience in the food business, but that didn’t stop him from experimenting with new flavors and a one-of-a-kind business.  Not only is selling real fruit slushees, but he’s also taken to the roads to do it.  When he’s not working...

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Q & A With Saveur's James Oseland

Posted on Jul 5, 2010 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

James Oseland took an unconventional route to becoming the editor-in-chief of Saveur Magazine.   A high school dropout, he eventually enrolled in art school and went on to act in movies and write in Hollywood for several years.   But a job as a proofreader at L.A. Weekly sparked his interest in magazine writing and led him to his current career at one of the premier food magazines. James Oseland, who also judges on Top Chef Masters, has a taste for the exotic. He lived in Asia for years and even released some Malaysian cookbooks.  Home in New York, he gets his Malaysian fix at Taste Good in Queens and shops for Malaysian ingredients at McCarren Park Farmer’s Market. Single/Married/Divorced?Married–unofficially yet spiritually–to my partner, Daniel.What did you want to be when you grew up?When I was a little kid, I wanted...

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Q & A with Motorino's Mathieu Palombino

Posted on Jun 28, 2010 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

Mathieu Palombino isn’t your typical pizza chef, or as they say in Italy, pizzaiolo.  He was born in Belgium and trained in classical French cooking, the last guy you’d expect to find manning a pizza oven.  But Palombino’s pizzerias have been earning rave reviews since Motorino first opened in Brooklyn, followed a year later by the equally as popular Motorino in the East Village.  He got his feet wet at Bouley and BLT Fish before traveling to Napoli & California to study the art of the pie.  “I wanted to cook something wholesome, tasty & inexpensive,” he explains, so he opened a pizzeria. “Pizzerias are almost as vital in America as they are in Italy, so the artisanal pie craze had to happen,” he says.  But what distinguishes his pies is the fresh buffalo mozzarella imported from Italy weekly,...

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Q & A with Bice's Jose Liriano

Posted on Jun 22, 2010 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

We don’t often get to meet the chefs who feed midtown’s power lunch crowd.  Ever since Bice opened in 2002,  it’s been packed with suits, luminaries & Italians nostalgic for a taste of home.  The flagship restaurant is located in Milan, but the one in midtown was designed by Adam Tihany, whose resume also includes Per Se and Daniel.  Unlike other power lunch destinations, the food at Bice is excellent.  The chef is Jose Liriano who’s not from Italy, but rather the Dominican Republic which explains the Latin influence in some of the dishes.  Liriano started as a line cook at Bice and quickly rose to executive chef of the same kitchen.  Liriano’s homemade taglioni with lobster and osso bucco alongside parmesan risotto are both pretty hard to beat. Single/married/divorced? I am getting married!  So, right now I have...

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