Chefs’ Profiles

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Jeffrey Michael – Old Daley Catering
In a few words, tell us a little about you. When not running the kitchen at Old Daley Custom Catering, I’m drumming for three different bands—The Ruddy’s, Bandaoke and The Lustre Kings. When not drumming (at least during the summer) I’m working in my father’s vegetable garden. I really like that we can grow our own food and really like knowing it’s organic.
If you could travel around the world to eat what are the top destinations a you would pick?   After graduation in culinary arts, I traveled rather extensively including Ko Samui Island off the coast of Thailand where I enjoyed some of the freshest, most exotic food ever. I haven’t been to Italy yet and that’s definitely on my bucket list.”
With Fall here, what is your favorite soup and the ingredients? We’re looking forward to the harvest from this year’s garden. We have a special variety of pumpkins that should offer some new inspiration on traditional autumn dishes. One of my favorites, though, is an old standard; “Butternut Squash Soup.  Among our herbs, we grow cilantro and save a certain amount to go to seed. Did you ever have coriander seeds straight from the garden? When freshly ground, there’s just no comparison to what it does in almost any recipe.
If you are not accustomed to shopping at farmers’ markets, what is some advice? When scouting for favorite foods here at home, I go to the farmers’ market. Always take a little time to look around; things are always changing, so look to see what’s fresh. Look to see what’s new and never be afraid to ask questions or try something different.

Mike Cohen – Chez Mike
In a few words tell us a little about you. Born and raised on Long Island, I have worked in Atlanta, New York City, and Chatham (NY), among others. I’m the proud father of a six-year-old boy named Aiden. I still get excited about cooking every day and feel so lucky to have been able to parlay my passion into a successful business. I am so thankful to all of our customers over the six-plus years we have been open, and I look forward to many more.
With Fall here, what is your favorite soup and the ingredients? If I’m going to be honest, Matzah Ball Soup is still my favorite. I know it’s not a "cool" chef-inspired soup, but it still kicks.
If you could travel around the world to eat what are the top 3 destinations and restaurants you would pick? Pizzeria Bianco, Pheonix, AZ; L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges, France (Paul Bocuse); Sukiyabashi Jiro, Tokyo, Japan.
If you could choose any chef to work with who would it be and what would you cook? Joel Robuchon and his Squab and Foie Gras in Cabbage. I’ve had it. And yes, it’s awesome! How does he get both cooked so perfectly in the same "package"? It’s not easy, believe me; I’ve tried.
If you are not accustomed to shopping at farmers’ markets what is some advice? Don’t pay attention to price. Yes, it’s more expensive than the grocery store, but you’re not comparing "apples to apples." Excuse the pun.

Jason Evans – El Loco Mexican Cafe
In a few words, tell us a little about you.  I have lived and worked in Albany’s Center Square on and off for over 16 years. I enjoy a wide variety of music (often to annoyance of others), art, architecture, 40s-60s Kitsch, motorcycles, and technology.
With Fall here, what is your favorite soup and the ingredients? “Frijoles charros borracho” or drunken cowboy beans. Typically, this soup is made from pinto beans, pork (bacon, chorizo, pork shoulder), onion, cilantro, serrano or jalapeno peppers and beer or tequila. I tend to go a bit further and add tomato, oregano, olive oil and chicken stock.
If you could travel around the world to eat what are the top 3 destinations and restaurants you would pick?   I tend to do a LOT of research before I travel and a large part of that is where to eat and find watering holes where I will feel comfortable. I look for local favorites and back-street gems while avoiding high-brow cuisine.  With that established, there are, of course, times you want go out and have a nice sit-down meal while traveling and dress it up a bit.
• Pujol in Mexico City, Mexico – Widely regarded as Mexico’s top restaurant.  Yes, please!
• Kasbah Tamadot, Sir Richard Branson’s retreat outside of Marrakech. Of course, dinner in the resort would probably be quite the experience, but I would also be out and about exploring the local food and customs as well.
• La Mariana Sailing Club, Honolulu, HI, an old-school tiki restaurant still in operation since 1956. I’m excited to be going there soon as I love tiki culture and this is one off my bucket list.
If you could pick a chef to work with who would it be and what would you cook? Chef Pilar Cabrera from Casa de los Sabores and La Olla, both in Oaxaca, Mexico. Chef Pilar promotes Oaxacan native foods and I would want to learn her version of Oaxacan mole. Mole’ is one of the most complex and laborious recipes and I feel you are never done with it; it always gets tweaked a little here and there, and each batch becomes its own identity.
If you are not accustomed to shopping at farmers’ markets, what is some advice? Planning ahead is one of the most crucial lessons to avoid not overspending and wasting food. Having a pretty good idea of what you are looking for will ensure you come away with something usable.

James Rhoads – Chef’s Deli & More
In a few words, tell us a little about you. My wife, Linda, and I own and operate Chef’s Deli & More at 689 Hoosick Road in Troy. For over 40 years, I’ve been working in hotels, restaurants and private clubs, as well as teaching culinary arts. I’m a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, a Certified Executive Chef and have memberships in the American Academy of Chefs and the American Culinary Federation, and life-time membership of the elite Honorable Society of the Golden Toque.
With Fall here, what is your favorite soup and the ingredients? My Fall favorite is Pumpkin Squash Soup made with pumpkin, acorn squash, chicken broth, butter, cinnamon, thyme, nutmeg, pistachios, and half & half.
If you could travel around the world to eat what are the top 3 destinations and restaurants you would pick?   With so many places to visit and so many excellent restaurants, it’s hard to select just three but here are my choices: Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, a restaurant in London England; L’Auberge Du Pont De collonges, in Lyon, France; and Vendôme, in Cologne, Germany.
If you could pick a chef to work with who would it be and what would you cook? I would choose to work with Thomas Keller, chef, restaurateur, cookbook writer and owner of the landmark Napa Valley restaurant The French Laundry, located in Yountville, California. I would very much enjoy the opportunity to learn his signature “Oysters & Pearls,” a Sabayon of Pearl Tapioca with Malpeque Oysters and Osetra Caviar.
If you are not accustomed to shopping at farmers’ markets, what is some advice? When shopping farmers’ markets, there are a few easy things to remember:  Get there early, get to know the farmers and ask questions, and don’t complain about the prices (which might be more than the local supermarket). Remember, you are getting the best and freshest food available. 

 Scott LaRose – Lakeview
In a few words, tell us a little about you. I have a wonderful wife and two beautiful girls. I have worked here at Lakeview almost 15 years and enjoy living in town and cooking for its residents. Although I’d rather be fishing!
With Fall around the corner what is your favorite soup and the ingredients? Roasted Butternut Squash Bisque. Squash, carrots, onions, cream, fresh sage and real maple syrup.
If you could travel around the world to eat what are the top 3 destinations and restaurants you would pick?  There are great restaurants in Las Vegas, Nevada, New Orleans and Vancouver.
If you could choose any chef to work with who would it be and what would you cook? Bobby Flay – I would like to slowdown and BBQ with a high-paced person like him and enjoy one of his cocktails.
If you are not accustomed to shopping at farmers’ markets what is some advice? Get to know the growers and try new things.

Dan Smith – John Andrews Farmhouse Restaurant
In a few words tell us a little about you. I have been the chef-owner of John Andrews Farmhouse Restaurant in South Egremont, MA, since 1990, creating regional cuisine for close to 25 years, long before farm-to-table was a trend.  My cooking philosophy is rooted in the region’s agricultural history with changing menus that highlight locally sourced, seasonal ingredients. I also have my own garden on the property.
I enjoy participating in the Berkshire chef collective, presenting locally sourced Berkshire Cure-All Dinners at the James Beard Foundation every winter. On April 21, 2015, I will present my first solo dinner at the James Beard House. I also teach culinary courses for the Railroad Street Youth Project.
With Fall here, what is your favorite soup and the ingredients? A favorite? Maybe not. My approach to making soup follows the progression of the Fall season and the produce with a long farewell to summer: the last fresh tomato soup—roasting the tomatoes to accommodate the cooler nights and to deepen the flavor; collecting the last of the sweet corn to make a late-season corn chowder; then, onto heartier soups like winter squash and root vegetables topped with shredded duck.
If you could travel around the world to eat what are the top 3 destinations and restaurants you would pick? My favorite dining experiences have always involved an element of surprise. Traveling to interesting destinations with no agenda is the best way to go.
If you could choose any chef to work with who would it be and what would you cook? There are many great chefs around the world who I would like to have a chance to cook with for a day. But, ultimately, I’d love to work with some of the cooks who have worked in my kitchen in the past and have now moved on to fulfill their own dreams and aspirations. I would help cook what they put on the menu for that day. 
If you are not accustomed to shopping at farmers’ markets what is some advice? I would recommend visiting a few different farmers’ markets in your region to see what foods are available. Try going early, before the crowds come in, so you have a chance to check out all the vendors and have a conversation with the farmers to learn more about their produce, growing methods and what is happening on their farms this season.

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