Chef Profiles

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Executive Chef Jon Espinola, Barnsider Restaurants

My name is Jonathan Espinola and I currently reside in Beverly, Massachusetts with my wife, Jenifer. In our spare time we enjoy boating, traveling, and of course, dinning out whenever we can. I knew early in my teen years that I wanted to work in the restaurant industry and probably because of my Portuguese roots I was predisposed to having a passion for flavorful foods and great wines. After high school I enrolled in the Johnson and Wales Culinary Program where I eventually became a teaching assistant. I worked hard during my years there and obtained an Associate Degree in Culinary Arts and a Bachelors Degree in Food Service Management. 

After graduation, I accepted a position with Barnsider Management Corporation, who own and operate four fine dining establishments – one in New York and three in Massachusetts. Several years later an opportunity arose for me to fill the vacant position of Executive Chef. Naturally, I jumped at the opportunity and I am having a wonderful ride creating new products to add to our ever-changing menu. My real passion lies in the wines we select and in the food products I submit to our research and development department for implementation onto our menu. 

For the most part, our clientele consists of repeat customers, so we must be doing something right! We pride ourselves on the product we offer, the atmosphere we provide and the professionalism we display in serving our guests. Our beef is carefully aged a minimum of 28 days in a temperature and humidity controlled environment. Each steak is cut and trimmed to our rigid specifications. Our fresh fish program ensures unsurpassed quality on a daily basis. We reach this goal by purchasing our fish exclusively from a carefully selected supplier who must adhere to our high standards. 

So, please come dine with us at any of our four locations, Beverly, Danvers and Burlington, Massachusetts or right here in Albany! We guarantee our guests satisfaction and a great dining experience!

 

Executive Chef John LaPosta, Maestros Restaurant 

Chef John LaPosta has had a long and exciting career path which has landed him in Saratoga Springs. Along with his partner, Tina Kruger, he has created a wonderful Fine American Bistro full of great energy, fine hospitality, and of course, outstanding food. Recently the N.Y. Times stated that on a day trip to Saratoga "head back up to Broadway for lunch at Maestro’s. The pumpkin-colored walls, jazz pulsing in the background and diners enjoying a crisp glass of wine with lunch give the place the feel of a Parisian café."

It is his passion for excellence, beaming hospitality and tireless work that have been the hallmarks of John’s 20+ years as one of the Capital Region’s most popular chef’s. He is known for his outstanding food that he serves for "real" people in a fun and unassuming style. His simple philosophy has always been "put the love on plate." In doing this, people feel comfortable when reading his menus and do not feel as if they need be a chef themselves to understand it. 

John spent four years as the Executive Chef at the legendary Jack’s Oyster House in Albany and attributes much of his "just say yes to the customer" attitude to that experience. He was the creative and culinary force behind the highly successful Conservatory Grille in Clifton Park, which was voted the "Best New Restaurant" by both The New York State Restaurant Association and Metroland Magazine. 

Before opening Maestro’s he spent almost five years as the Executive Chef and Innkeeper at the Cambridge Hotel, a hidden jewel in Washington County. He is focused and driven to grow the highly successful Maestro’s into a culinary experience by which all others will be judged. 

Maestro’s is located at 371 Broadway, Saratoga Springs. For more information call 580.0312 or visit www.saratogamaestros.com.

 

Chef Ric Orlando, New World Bistro

"Global flavor, local pride." Guided by these words, Chef Ric Orlando brings an inspired blend of lust for life, passion for "clean food" and nationally-renowned cooking prowess to his roles as chef, lecturer, author and media source. 

Ric is the Chef Consultant at New World Bistro Bar in Albany, which opened in March 2009. In its first year, the Gastro-Pub was recognized as “Best Bistro” in Capital Region Living Magazine, “Best American Food” and “Best International Food” in the 2010 Metroland Readers’ Poll. Ric is also Chef/Owner of New World Home Cooking Co. in Saugerties – a Hudson Valley landmark since 1993. 

Ric describes his cuisine as “Global Soul Food” – celebrating flavors and styles from around the world while featuring local, sustainable ingredients. He is known for his love of all things spicy. His “Ric-Ter Scale” rates the spice level of dishes from 0 – 10, ranging from mild ginger or black pepper (0 – 2) to the intense heat of Scotch Bonnet, Habanero and Thai Bird Chile peppers (9 – 10). 

This summer, Ric appeared on the Food Network’s competition show “Chopped”. His creativity and bold flavors beat out three other challengers and earned him the title of Chopped Champion. No stranger to television, Ric produced and starred in Ric Orlando’s TV Kitchen on WMHT TV-PBS from 2003 to 2004. His recipe book, We Want Clean Food, was published in conjunction with the show. 

A man with a colorful past, Ric’s cultural roots stem from the underground music and art scene in the late 1970s and ‘80s in New York, New Haven and Boston. Orlando gathered culinary experience at the beginning of the American food revolution in the 1980s at groundbreaking restaurants such as the Elm City Diner in New Haven, (the original) Harvest in Cambridge, The Wild Goose in Boston, Sugar Reef in Manhattan and Yates Street and Justin’s in Albany. For over 20 years, Ric has remained true to his passion for preparing and promoting local food, while honoring down-to-earth global flavors.

 New World Bistro Bar is located at 300 Delaware Avenue, Albany. For more information call 694.0520 or visit newworldbistrobar.com.

 

Chef Eric Milks. Terminal Tavern

Chef Eric Milks graduated from SCCC in 1993 with a degree in culinary arts. His career, which spans over 23 years, had him working for Chef George Helms at the Troy Country Club in the mid-1980s (his first kitchen job) to Tosca in downtown Troy. He spent 12 years in Manhattan, working in upper management and executive chef jobs at The Hudson River Club, Tavern on the Green, Henry’s West side, Louie’s Cafe and The Water’s Edge-Summerstein Catering. He is currently running the operations at The Terminal Tavern in Troy’s East Side.

He enjoys grilling and spicy foods, mostly Thai food and has developed different philosophies and cooking styles over the years, from using local produce and specialty ingredients to wild and crazy game meats. He likes to use a variety of cooking ingredients from around the globe and incorporate them into regional cooking.

Chef Milks also likes to implement multiple cooking techniques in his dishes, as well as the entire menu he develops. But one thing has remained the same no matter where he is – he loves to cook. Though the economy sometimes makes it hard to cook everything you would like to, Chef Milks prides himself on putting the time, effort and love into making even the simplest things taste good. 

Terminal Tavern is located at 77 Pawling Avenue, Troy. For more information call 283.8376.

 

Chefs Roberto Bermejo and Cesar Bermejo, El Mariachi

Roberto Bermejo and Cesar Bermejo are the chef brothers of the owner that run both El Mariachi Mexican Restaurant I and II. They grew up in Mexico and New York City and have more than 20 years of restaurant experience. Raised in a family of eight, they both learned their basic cooking skills from their mother and enjoyed her and their grandmother’s Mexican food; everything from fresh tamales to spicy tomato salsa. Many recipes on the menu and specials come from home. But often they make recipes that are identical to those made in their home State of Puebla, Mexico. One of the main dishes, The Mole Poblano, is their mother’s secret recipe. This is also one of the main dishes of our home town Puebla. Other typical dishes on the menu also include, chile reyenos, pozole, cochinita pibil and the traditional tacos. 

Cesar and Roberto are both dedicated to making sure everything runs smoothly at the two El Mariachi locations. While Roberto’s expertise is Spanish cuisine (paella valenciana and seafood zarzuelas, two of Spain’s famous dishes), Cesar specializes in Mexican cuisine. 

They both feel very proud when the job they do is reflected in the customer’s satisfaction. 

During their free time, Cesar enjoys spending time with his family, while Roberto enjoys traveling back home to improve and bring back new ideas of traditional Mexican cuisine.

El Mariachi has two locations in Albany: 144 Washington Avenue 465.25689 and 289 Hamilton Street 432.7580.

 

Chef Rob Rivers, The Jonesville Store

Cooking was something that I did for fun while growing up at home. I never thought that it would become my career. After high school I went to college, and after a year I decided to attend New England Culinary Institute. I saw this as an opportunity to try something I liked to do. My only previous cooking experience was in a pizzeria, so I was going into the industry blind. Once I started school I realized this is what I wanted to do. I was very fortunate to work with exceptional chefs early in my career who allowed my passion and my skills to improve, which helped me to move up quickly. 

By constantly paying attention to my surroundings and different styles of food, I was able to come up with my own variations on classical themes. At the Jonesville Store, I am able to use fresh, local ingredients that allow weekly menu and daily changes. Yes, this industry is a constant struggle, but to cook for a living and to see the happy and satisfied customers enjoying my creations makes my knowledge and my efforts all worthwhile.

The Jonesville Store is located at 989 Main Street, Clifton Park. For more information visit www.thejonesvillestore.com. or EatGoodFood@TheJonesvilleStore.com.

 

Chef Jim Schultz, 2 Shea Catering

Chef Jim Schultz knows his way around the kitchen – and will be cooking up specialty dishes and creating culinary displays for 2Shea Catering in Glenmont. 

For the past 13 years, Jim has been the chef at Shea’s Restaurant in Albany. Ed Shea, the owner of Shea’s, recently sold the restaurant and is now focusing on catering banquets, weddings, corporate events and private parties from the Cyprus Shrine Center. Chef Jim will continue as head chef, serving his delicious creations from the new venue. “This opportunity allows me more leeway in presenting dishes in a whole new way,” he said. 

Jim, a native of Albany, began his career learning prep work at The Bleeker in Albany and was fortunate to have Chef Paul Mason take him under his wing. 

“Chef Paul taught me classical French cuisine and from that point on, I was hooked on cooking.” 

Spending five years with Mason prepared Schultz to venture out and serve as restaurant chef at various locations, including Glen Sanders Mansion, before he found his niche at Shea’s. In 1995, Schultz was the recipient of the Grand Award at the Chef’s Cornucopia competition with his unique presentation of rabbit with banana catsup and balsamic vinaigrette ice cream for dessert. 

When asked if he has a favorite dish, Chef Jim said he likes to prepare all kinds of food and loves to try new things. When given a choice, however, his three children prefer that he just cook chicken.

 His faithful followers are never disappointed when dinner is served. Chef Jim’s talents range from presenting elegant haute cuisine to everyone’s favorite home-cooked meal. All appetites are sure to be satisfied when Jim is in the kitchen. 

2 Shea is located at 27 Hannay Lane, Glenmont. For more information call 573.5020.

 

Chef Tardio, Angelo’s Tavolo at Glen Sanders

Chef Tardio’s passion for cooking began at a young age. Working in the restaurant industry to make ends meet while pursuing a career in music, he found a way to bring his artistic style to his cuisine. After working as Sous Chef at the highly-acclaimed Starr’s Restaurant in Albany, Chef Tardio has been with Mazzone Management Group for over 12 years. He is the proud recipient of many awards, and also led the Glen Sanders Mansion team of chefs to victory at two Culinary Cornucopia competitions, placing in all seven categories winning five gold medals and two silver, including the overall “Grand Award”. 

For several years, Chef Tardio’s creativity and innovative menus were well-known in the summer months where he was found at the Patron’s Club Restaurant in the Hall of Springs, and for the remainder of the year as the Executive Chef at the Glen Sanders Mansion Restaurant. After its $1 million renovation in 2009, Chef Tardio was able to bring his style and vast knowledge of modern Italian cuisine to Angelo’s Tavolo – the newly named restaurant at Glen Sanders Mansion. His imaginative cuisine and sophisticated menu building makes him one of our most sought after chefs.

Angelo’s Tavolo at Glen Sanders Mansion 1 Glen Ave, Scotia. For more information call 374.7262 or visit www.angelostavolo.com.

 

Chef/Owner Scott Ringwood, Lake Ridge Restaurant

Chef Scott’s passion for food and cooking began at home with his love and interest for his Mom’s cooking and one of his first jobs of picking produce at a nearby farm. From there, Scott went on to own his first restaurant at age 22. It was an experience that gave him the direction he would take in his culinary career. 

He spent the next years working at only a few restaurants, but making sure it was alongside many of the area’s most talented chefs, where he had the opportunity to collaborate with, learn and experience many different styles of cooking, unique cuisines and business structures that are still a part of our regional dining experience today.

Chef Scott’s passion has only grown throughout the years. His creativeness and expertise shines through in his sauces and his ability to create the most delicious dishes with them. He prides himself in using only the best ingredients, the highest quality meats, poultry, seafood and vegetables available. His desire is to share his zeal for culinary delights in the surroundings that he felt would enhance the guest’s dining experience. 

Once again, Chef Scott returned to his desire to own his own restaurant. And today, he and his partner Bob McKenna are in their ninth year as the proprietors of the Lake Ridge Restaurant. 

Lake Ridge is located at 35 Burlington Avenue, Round Lake. For more information call 899.6000 or visit www.lake-ridge.com.

 

Chef Gerry Fleck, Albany Pump Station

Chef Gerry Fleck’s love of cooking began at a very young age. As a member of a large family, he often enjoyed helping prepare holiday feasts and special event parties. His passion for culinary arts grew to such proportions that he decided to formalize his education. He earned a degree in hotel restaurant management at Oregon State University and the renowned Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park.

In the span of his 35-year career, Gerry has worked on the east and west coasts, bringing his talent to both fine dining restaurants, as well as prestigious country clubs. He also has donated his time and talent over the years to many Capital District fund raisers such, as the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, and American Lung Association to name a few. 

In 2002, Gerry accepted the executive chef position at the C.H. Evans Brewing Company. One of his first assignments was to put together a strong culinary team with the ability to produce quality fare at the fast pace and volume for which the Pump Station is known for.

He then created a moderately priced menu with emphasis on comfort foods/pub fare, as well as high end cuisine. The restaurant does its part to support the community by buying as much local product as possible. Some of these items are visible on the menu, such as locally raised grass fed beef from the town of Berne. The restaurant has also participated in several community events such as Restaurant Week, Hundred Mile Diet and Farms to Restaurant Week. They have also won the People’s Choice Best Chowder award at Troy’s Chowderfest and the Best and Most Unique Macaroni and Cheese award at the Regional Food Bank’s Table Hopping Mac n’ Cheese Bowl.

The quality of food, the dramatic historic atmosphere of the building and the award-winning beers have insured the growth of the Albany Pump Station over the past several years.

 

 

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