Chef | Profiles

0

Jaime Ortiz
677 Prime
677 Broadway, Albany
518.477.7463; 677prime.com
Did you grow up in a family with big dinners?  If yes, what would be served?
Typically on big holiday dinners and special occasions, my mother will always make some traditional dishes from Puerto Rico with our own spin. Always present would be the Pernil (roast garlicky pork picnic shoulder) Arroz con Gandules (rice and pigeon peas) along with my mother’s potato salad and of all things, cranberry sauce.
What is the last recipe that you were wowed by and what was it?
I recently thought of making pancakes with 50% of the batter being made up of yellow cake mix. I don’t know why I had not thought of it before; they are a hit with all the kids! What kitchen tool can you not live without?  Home?  Professional? Aside from knives, at home probably just a rubber spatula. Professionally, my plating and working spoons.
What country have you or will you travel to for the food culture?
Colombia, India, Thailand, and Spain. What is the one dish that you never tire of making? In Spanish, we call it a Calentado, or at home, we call it Eggie Fried Rice. Pretty much leftover rice and beans (like the rice and pigeon peas) veggies, plantains, meat and pretty much any leftovers all diced up and stirfried with scrambled eggs mixed in. I never tire of making it.

 

Ric Orlando
New World Bistro Bar
300 Delaware Avenue, Albany
518.694.0520; newworldbistrobar.com
Did you grow up in a family with big dinners?  If yes, what would be served?
I did. My parents split when I was in grade school, so I was lucky enough to have two very big, very food-focused families. My parents are both Southern Italian; Mom is Neapolitan/Calabrese and Dad is 100% Sicilian. My mother got remarried to a man from Puerto Rico–Imagine a Christmas Eve/Christmas at my mother’s small house in New Haven. It was a Neapolitan/Puerto Rican extravaganza! Christmas Eve dinner of strictly seafood rolled into Christmas dinner as a friendly battle of Southern Italian and Latino holiday dishes.
What kitchen tool can you not live without?  Home?  Professional?
Actually, at home, it is a good box grater. I use it for cheeses of course but also for potatoes, onions, ginger, carrots, beets, etc. At the restaurant, it is a Vita-Mix blender for soups, dressings, sauces and more. It’s a super tool.
What country have you or will you travel to for the food culture?
I have traveled to Puglia in Italy for the Slow Food Adventure, Puerto Rico for the “Lechon,” Guatemala for the tortillas and ceviches, Canada for Foie Gras.
What is the one dish that you never tire of making?
I never tire of making South East Asian curries in all of their beauty. I grew lots of lemongrass and chiles this year strictly for making batches of Thai green curry paste. The house smells magical when making the paste AND cooking the dish.

 

Roberto and Cesar Bermejo
El Mariachi Mexican Restaurant
289 Hamilton Street, Albany
518.432.7580; Elmariachirestaurant.com
El Mariachi Spanish & Mexican Tapas
271 Lark Street, Albany
518.465.2568; Elmariachitapas.com
Did you grow up in a family with big dinners?  If yes, what would be served?
Yes, we definitely grew up in a family with big dinners. Growing up in a house with six children, Mom and dad you kind of have to cook big dinners. Our dinners were always special & delicious because Mom would make everything freshly made. Dinners served would include Tamales filled with chicken or cheese, Pozole (a Mexican hominy soup) & Tostadas, and of course, tacos were always our favorite.
What kitchen tool can you not live without? Home? Professional?
A good set of pots and pans is the kitchen tool we cannot live without. You have to have the perfect set at home and at the restaurant.
What country have you or will you travel to for the food culture?
We would definitely travel to Mexico. The Mexican culture is vibrant. From the heartfelt greetings to music, diversity, and of course the food, Mexico is the place that we would always visit.
What is the one dish that you never tire of making?
One of the most favorite dishes in the restaurant is Pollo Al Chipotle. Our families love it so much we cook it at home for our family get-togethers. We would never get tired of cooking this dish since it is one of Mom’s recipes.

 

Mike Cohen
Chez Mike
596 Columbia Turnpike, East Greenbush
518.479.4730; chezmikerestaurant.com
Did you grow up in a family with big dinners?  If yes, what would be served?
Not big dinners…..big brunches. I can remember about every 3rd Sunday or so, my Great–Grandmother, Grandmother, and other relatives would come over to the house for Brunch, which was the best! Smoked fish including, Herring, Lox, and Whitefish. Bagels, still warm from “Bagelicious”. Noodle pudding, salad, all the garnishes. It must have had an impact on me because it is still my absolute favorite meal.
What kitchen tool can you not live without?  Home?  Professional?
My smartphone is a great tool in the kitchen. For example, if we are not sure about something, we can look it up right there in real time. We might try to recall something we ate or saw. Not to mention, it has a calculator, flashlight, timer, and notebook as well. As long as you don’t use it as a crutch all the time, it can be a great tool.
What country have you or will you travel to for the food culture?
I traveled to France about 15 years ago. Before going, I planned out just about every place I would eat, and nothing disappointed. They have so much respect for eating and food in general.
What is the one dish that you never tire of making?
There are a few. One of them being our country pork pate. There is something so satisfying about lining the mold with overlapping bacon, putting in the forcemeat, and covering it with remaining bacon. Then there’s the anticipation of slicing into it the next day to see what you got. I’ve been making the same one for years now, and it always tastes just slightly different, but always delicious.

 

Dan Casey
Twisted Vine Wine and Tap
384 Kenwood Avenue, Delmar
518.439.3241; Twistedvinedelmar.com
Did you grow up in a family with big dinners?  If yes, what would be served?
Yes, we couldn’t get up til the plate was clean. Having three brothers and a sister, and mom babysitting for five, Moms go–to was beef stew, she could get all the veggies in there that nobody liked. Dinner was always followed up with homemade dessert.
What is the last recipe that you were wowed by and what was it?
Homemade cider donut bread pudding. Regular and gluten free.
What kitchen tool can you not live without?  Home?  Professional?
Home, would have to be my cast iron skillet. It’s a tool that you can make anything you want in it, breakfast, lunch or dinner. Seasoned for life. Professional, I would have to say, my hands. Being in the cooking and baking industry, these hands of mine are my “BREAD and BUTTER!”
What is the one dish that you never tire of making?
The dishes I will never get tired of making come in a pie dish. I love and will never get tired of making freshly baked pies. One of my favorites being homemade apple pie with apples coming from Indian Ladder Farms.

 

Elliott Vogel
Daley’s on Yates
10 Yates Street, Schenectady
518.687.3561; olddaley.com
Did you grow up in a family with big dinners?  If yes, what would be served?
I grew up in a small family so big dinners happened mostly for holidays and birthdays. We cooked Italian food….almost always.
What kitchen tool can you not live without?  Home?  Professional?
As simple as it is….the spoon. It stirs the sauce, allows me to taste the sauce and then serve the sauce…..and sauces can make or break a dish.
What country have you or will you travel to for the food culture?
I would like to go to Spain for their culture supporting heightened cuisine and seafood-centric diets. For two years now I have been very interested and passionate about seafood cookery. Living 250 miles from the Atlantic Ocean I often dream about types of fish and what techniques would be best used.
What is the one dish that you never tire of making?
On Sunday mornings I make Eggs in a Basket with dill, grated parmesan, Kosher salt, and cracked pepper – simple and delicious. It brings me back to my early cooking challenges as a chef.

 

Fabrice Vittoz
Chez Nous
707 Union Street, Schenectady
518.344.6393; cheznousschenectady.com
Did you grow up in a family with big dinners?  If yes, what would be served?
I was born and raised in Brittany (France) in a family of six. My maternal grandparents were from Spain, and my paternal grandparents from Italy, so big dinners were always on the menu. I remember them being delicious, but they also needed to fit into a tight family budget. Chicken soup, fish soup, roast pork, and of course beef stew. Paella and couscous were a must when my grandparents visited, and a good crepes dinner – oh yes! But the best of all was our favorite meal each Wednesday (no exception): oven-roasted whole chicken with french fries. Finger-Lickin’ good!
What is the last recipe that you were wowed by and what was it?
Being from Brittany, seafood is really our thing. The one dish I really go for is pan-seared Chilean sea bass with caviar beurre blanc. It’s so special to me. I always serve it on my New Year’s Eve menu – a special dish for a special night.
What country have you or will you travel to for the food culture?
India or China, both for their ability to marry all their wonderful herbs and spices to make an exquisite broth for any dish you are making.
What is the one dish that you never tire of making?
I do love braised meat (shank, Osso Bucco) slowly cooked in an oven for 2-3 hours in red wine, before adding veal stock, onion, carrots, and fresh thyme. I cook it until the meat falls off the bone – it’s that tender.

 

W. Terry O’Callaghan
Crossroads Brewing Company
21 Second Street, Athens; 518.945.BEER (2337)
201 water street, catskill; 518.444.TAPS (8277)
crossroadsbrewingco.com
Did you grow up in a family with big dinners?  If yes, what would be served?
Yes, I definitely grew up in a family where dinner was very important. I had six siblings, and my mother thought it was very important for everybody to sit down at the table together. My mother was an excellent cook and a person who strived to put amazing meals on the table.
What is the last recipe that you were wowed by and what was it?
The last recipe that I had out for dinner and then tried to replicate was Emeril Lagasse’s Worcestershire pork. Worcestershire sauce is something that I only used sparingly during my cooking career but making it the centerpiece of a dish was something I was very surprised at how well it worked. My own version also came out surprisingly rich and delicious and is now one of my favorite things to make.
What kitchen tool can you not live without?  Home?  Professional?
The piece of kitchen equipment I can’t live without is my food processor. Until about a decade ago I rarely used one. Now it is the tool I use most in the kitchen.
What country have you or will you travel to for the food culture?
I have traveled pretty extensively in my life. New Orleans was probably my favorite culinary experience. I don’t think I had a bad meal while I was down there.
What is the one dish that you never tire of making?
The one dish I never tire of making is not one specific dish, but I do love to make soup. I like the process of developing flavors with properly adding vegetables at the right time, separately cooking the protein, combining all the ingredients into a new dish and adding fresh herbs to put the soup over the top.

 

Nathan Houle
The Waters Edge Lighthouse
2 Freemans Bridge Road, Glenville
518.370.5300; thewatersedgelighthouse.com
Did you grow up in a family with big dinners?  If yes, what would be served?
When I was growing up, my Aunt Nancy would have a spaghetti and meatball dinner once a week at my parent’s house. She would walk through the door carrying her favorite saucepan full of marinara, meatballs and sometimes even chicken and sausage too. Those memories with her is a huge inspiration to my career path.
What is the last recipe that you were wowed by and what was it?
My “Espresso Crème Brûlée” is one of my most prized recipes. It took me a long time to perfect the technique of making Crème Brûlée and to get the ingredient measurements just right to include a coffee twist to it but when I did, it wowed not only myself but everyone who’s had it.
What kitchen tool can you not live without?  Home?  Professional?
My favorite kitchen tool at home and at work is undoubtedly my chef’s knife. In any kitchen, your number one most important tool is a knife. It’s got to have the right fit to your hand, the right length, made from good quality steel, and of course, be razor sharp.
What is the one dish that you never tire of making?
Cioppino! When I came up with our “Seafood Crushed Pomodoro” sauce, it took this dish to the next level and probably the dish that took me to the next level as well. I love seafood and this dish is an absolute knockout, packed with flavor, packed with seafood and the display is always picture perfect.

 

Brad Holub
Rivers Casino and Resort Schenectady
1 Rush Street, Schenectady
518.579.8840; riverscasinoandresort.com
Did you grow up in a family with big dinners?  If yes, what would be served?
I grew up in a family of five, so every dinner was big. Our family favorites were fried chicken and goulash.
What is the last recipe that you were wowed by and what was it?
Pan seared seabass with white bean ragout, braised escarole, and tomato vinaigrette.
What kitchen tool can you not live without?  Home?  Professional?
My go-to tool at home are my multi-use tongs. I use them for grilling and opening my favorite cold beverages. My knives are my go-to tools at work; they have a multitude of uses and are a necessity in the kitchen.
What country have you or will you travel to for the food culture?
Italy, hands down.
What is the one dish that you never tire of making?
Short rib mac & cheese with a caramelized onion cheese sauce.

 

Harry Chavarria
Jackson’s Old Chatham House
646 Albany Turnpike, Old Chatham
518.794.7373; jacksonsoldchathamhouse.com
Did you grow up in a family with big dinners?  If yes, what would be served?
Yes. It was always different, but my mom loved to make pot roast with mashed potatoes and gravy.
What is the last recipe that you were wowed by and what was it?
An avocado, cilantro, chipotle, cucumber sauce that we use for blackened scallops.
What kitchen tool can you not live without?  Home?  Professional?
At both home and professionally, it is a knife.
What country have you or will you travel to for the food culture?
Costa Rica What is the one dish that you never tire of making? Seafood risotto

 

Ian O’Leary
C.H. Evans Brewing Company at the Albany Pump Station
19 Quackenbush Square, Albany
518.447.9000; EvansAle.com
What is the last recipe that you were wowed by and what was it?
The molé at Casa Enriqué in Long Island City, Queens. The molé was out of this world amazing. I could feel the chefs passion in the sauce. It reminded me of my veal demiglace.
What kitchen tool can you not live without?  Home?  Professional?
It is hard to pick just one. The knife is the most important. I carry them with me wherever I go. My tasting spoons are also important. I taste everything to make sure I’ve made a perfectly seasoned, balanced dish.
What country have you or will you travel to for the food culture?
Being a fan of French cuisine, I would say France. However, Thailand would be my food destination. If given an opportunity to work in Thailand, I would be on the next plane.
What is the one dish that you never tire of making?
This would be eggs. We have nothing in food culture without eggs. When interviewing new employees, I always have the interviewee make an egg.

Share.

Leave A Reply