Friday - December 21, 2011 Share Del.icio.us | Podcast | WineAndDineHawaii.com
Occupation: Chef de Cuisine, Bali Steak and Seafood at Hilton Hawaiian Village
Where were you born and raised? In different suburbs of Cleveland.
Was it family influences that started your passion for cooking? Definitely. It was the big kitchen thing with Mom and Dad from an early age. We’re an Italian family, and my grandma was a huge influence. She passed things down to Dad, and he passed them on to me.
Are there still things you love your grandma to make? Yes! Every time I go home I beg her to make a beef dish that’s stuffed with Italian bread crumbs and herbs, and then braised. It’s incredible.
Any of those kind of home-style dishes going to make it to the menu at Bali Steak and Seafood? (laughs) Well, maybe. Right now, though, we’ve been doing tasting menus and finding out what it is people really want ... a new direction. We’re rolling out a new menu in early 2012.
What’s the style? My style is simplistic elegance. I’ve always been a farmtotable chef because it was the way I grew up, not because it’s fashionable. So local produce, fish, seasonal stuff, you’re going to see it all on the menu.
It’s hard to keep prices low and quality high, especially when you’re in a fine-dining restaurant. Yeah, but I’ve spent a lot of time in the dining room talking to our local guests, and they don’t mind paying a higher price as long as they get the best produce and ample portions. I’m a big fan of that myself.
Do you cook at home? Yes, but not as much as I’d like to. It’s tempting to go surfing after a day in the kitchen.
What’s always in your fridge? Farmers market produce and red wine. One of the big treats of eating at home is having a glass of wine while you cook.
With whom would you most like to have dinner at Bali Steak and Seafood? I’m a huge music fan, but it would really have to be my family. My dad has never been able to physically travel to enjoy some of the amazing places I’ve worked, so for that reason alone it would be great to have dinner with him, my mom and my brother.
Anything about you that might surprise us? I like to write. I write poetry, songs, short stories ...
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