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The Art of Food

LOCAL CULINARY EXPERTS AT THE TOP OF THEIR GAME

Aerin Zavory

Chef & Owner of Zavory’s Catering

@zavorys

This or That with Chef Aerin:

Curly fries or waffle fries? Waffle fries

Fried egg or scrambled? Scrambled 

Bloody Mary or mimosa? Bloody Mary

Ketchup or mayonnaise? Mayonnaise

Pizza or pasta? Pizza

WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU WERE INTERESTED IN A CULINARY CAREER? 

My first job was when I was in high school at a little pizza place called Nico's. It was my first introduction to the restaurant business. I started there as a busser and made pizza occasionally. Since then, I have been in the food and beverage industry. I was lucky enough to always know what I wanted to do when I grew up: to be a chef. As a kid, I barged into the kitchen to try and help my mom cook family dinners. I eventually experimented with cookbook recipes and made up some of my own. I even created a recipe book for different juice concoctions in kindergarten.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COOKING STYLE?

I have a "keep it simple" attitude. I tend to gravitate toward using Italian and Mediterranean cooking techniques and try to use New England seasonal ingredients as much as possible. My background in fine dining includes a big chunk of time on the west coast, which has influenced my use of produce and vegetable cookery. I plan dishes around the produce and then think of a protein that would work well with it instead of the other way around. Cooking seasonally is important to me. The produce tastes better and keeps costs down too!

WHAT'S YOUR IDEAL FALL MENU?

When I create my fall menu, I typically think of what produce is readily available. I like to use lots of whole grains and legumes like farro and lentils and pair those earthy flavors with the sweet squashes and fruits ready to use in the fall. One of my favorite dishes on my fall menu is a farro salad with feta cheese, butternut squash, parsley, cranberries, and a maple mustard vinaigrette; it screams fall and is an excellent centerpiece for any buffet.

FUN FACT ABOUT YOU?

I won an episode of Chopped and Beat Bobby Flay!

Geoff Lazlo

Chef/Managing Partner

@the_country_table

This or That with Chef Geoff:

Curly fries or waffle fries? Curly

Fried egg or scrambled? Fried, but over easy for a runny yolk

Bloody Mary or mimosa? Bloody Mary

Ketchup or mayonnaise? Mayonnaise

Pizza or pasta? Pizza

WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU WERE INTERESTED IN A CULINARY CAREER?

I have always loved food. I traveled the world with my parents at a young age and experienced food and culture across Europe and Asia.  My first job was working for a catering company in San Francisco while I was attending college where I learned the basics of cooking.  After graduating, I moved back to Connecticut and enrolled in the CIA in Hyde Park, NY.  I wanted to complete my culinary training at the CIA where some of the best chefs in the country have studied.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COOKING STYLE?

I cook food dictated by seasonality.  I find inspiration from nature's beauty; growing a garden connects me directly to the ingredients, and allows me to cook using simple, unpretentious cooking techniques that highlight the inherent qualities of the ingredients. 

WHAT'S YOUR IDEAL FALL MENU?

One of the things I love about fall is that it is really two seasons.  First, the late-summer/early fall is unique because its overlap with summer offers corn, tomatoes, zucchini, peppers and eggplant.  Second, in the late fall, I use more iconic, classic fall ingredients like squash, apples, pears, chestnuts, cranberries and root vegetables.  

ONE DISH FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. WHAT WOULD IT BE?

The Breakfast Burrito from The Country Table.  I love it because of the interplay between the chorizo, fresh guac and pico.

CELEBRITY YOU WOULD LOVE TO COOK DINNER FOR. 

Bob Weir, (Guitarist), The Grateful Dead and Wolf Bros.

Keti Rogava

Recipe Developer

@ketiskitchen

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COOKING STYLE? 

Quick, healthy, with a variety of herbs and spices. Dinner inspiration normally strikes when I start to get hungry myself, around 5pm. I open the fridge and see what ingredients I have available. Then the recipe starts to form in my head. I try to go for dishes that take no more than 30 minutes to cook. If I make chili or Bolognese sauce, or when I bake Khachapuri (baked Georgian cheese bread), I double the portion so that I can freeze it for another day. 

WHAT'S YOUR IDEAL FALL MENU? 

When I think of fall, warm and vibrant colors of nature come to mind, especially in New England. I love to see those warm colors in food too. I cook a variety of seasonal vegetable soups, sheet-pan vegetable dinners, and fall is definitely a start of a cheese fondue season. 

WHAT'S A GREAT TRICK OR TECHNIQUE YOU USE IN THE KITCHEN? 

To make the perfect fluffy rice, first fry a cup of rice in a bit of oil, then add 2 cups of water and salt, bring to boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook with lid on for 13 minutes! 

ONE DISH FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. WHAT WOULD IT BE? 

Perfectly crispy pan-fried potatoes. It always brings back wonderful childhood memories. Fried potatoes would be my favorite side to any meal. Cheese would be a close second. It’s hard to imagine life without cheese.

CELEBRITY YOU WOULD LOVE TO COOK DINNER FOR.  

Demna Gvasalia, creative director of Balenciaga. He’s incredibly talented, a true trailblazer, reimagining the fashion world completely, and is also originally from Georgia, like myself. I think he would be a fantastic dinner guest and would probably enjoy some of the Georgian cooking too.

Photography by: Brook Road Photography

This or That with Chef Keti:

Curly fries or waffle fries? Waffle fries

Fried egg or scrambled? Fried egg, or poached egg even better!

Bloody Mary or mimosa? Mimosa

Ketchup or mayonnaise? Mayonnaise

Pizza or pasta? Pasta

Gerardo Guarino

Private Chef

@chefgerardoguarino

WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU WERE INTERESTED IN A CULINARY CAREER? 

From the age of 7, being in the kitchens of my Mom and Grandmothers I knew that I had a passion for the culinary arts.  It wasn’t until I was about 28 that I started it professionally.  I worked my way up through the food industry in New Jersey and New York.  I worked with pastry as well and found myself drawn to that part of the culinary world. I worked as a Pastry Chef and Chef and at one point found a passion for making gelato.  After so many years working in restaurants, I decided I would start getting into the private sector.  I found a break and through a great Chef friend of mine I landed a Private Chef job with a well-known actor on Long Island.  I was grateful, and working for the family was a great experience.  

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COOKING STYLE?  

I had many describe my cooking as clean. I always continue to learn new styles and cuisines. I find that I am drawn more towards southern Italian cuisine and pastry as well.  Authentic dishes are more inspiring to me because of the history behind them.  

WHAT'S A GREAT TRICK OR TECHNIQUE YOU USE IN THE KITCHEN?

I find that being organized and keeping your area clean and clear is what sets cooks apart.  When I worked in restaurants, I would be hard on the kitchen staff about keeping their area organized and clean.  Your kitchen reflects your work as a Chef. Consistency is the key for any Chef in executing dishes whether it’s in a restaurant or working as a Private Chef. 

IF YOU COULD ONLY EAT ONE DISH FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

I always notice that people in general always resort back to childhood with food. Neapolitan Ragu (Pasta with a tomato and meat ragu) will always hold a special place in my heart. 

This or That Chef Gerardo:

Curly fries or waffle fries? Fresh Cut 

Fried egg or scrambled? Scrambled (French Style) 

Bloody Mary or mimosa? Neither…Campari and Soda

Ketchup or mayonnaise? Ketchup

Pizza or pasta? Pasta

Robin Selden

Executive Chef & Managing Partner Marcia Selden Catering & Events

@robinselden/@marciaseldencatering         

This or That with Chef Robin:

Curly fries or waffle fries? Waffle

Fried egg or scrambled? Scrambled

Bloody Mary or mimosa? Mimosa

Ketchup or mayonnaise? Ketchup

Pizza or pasta? Pizza

WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU WERE INTERESTED IN A CULINARY CAREER?

Hospitality is in our blood. My brother Jeffrey and I grew up in this business and were working for our mother, Marcia, when we were teenagers. While we both went off to do our own things there was no doubt that one day, we would be back working with her. Catering is infectious, especially if you are passionate about food and partying. Our mom was a trailblazer and a massive inspiration to us. How many people can say that they party for a living?

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COOKING STYLE?

Personally, my food has a Mediterranean feel. Lots of lemon, herbs, garlic, and great olive oil. And I love to grill everything!! As a company though we custom design our menus to reflect our clients. This is what makes our job so exciting as we get to do something different and creative with each event that we do, and every menu and every week is unique. Our clients dream it and we execute it. Everything from Retro American classics and BBQ to French, Asian and Indian. Our culinary team is a melting pot and are from all over the world.

WHAT'S YOUR IDEAL FALL MENU?

I love warm flavors of brown butter, sage and butternut squash. I make a butternut squash crumble that makes you weak at the knees. Pureed squash with brown butter and topped with a savory cheddar crumb topping!

WHAT'S A GREAT TRICK OR TECHNIQUE YOU USE IN THE KITCHEN?

At the end of summer when I’ve got a surplus of herbs in my garden, I make big batches of pesto and chimichurri and freeze them in ice cube trays. Once frozen I pop them out and throw them in freezer Ziplocs. It’s a great way to always have them on hand and they freeze beautifully.

Photography by: Dennis Kwan Photography

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