What is your role at Vivo?
Executive Chef. I’ve been with the hotel for going on six years. I had started as a Chef de Cuisine, during which time I oversaw Vivo under the Executive Chef.
What is it like working for a restaurant that is part of a hotel?
There's a lot of benefits – being with a hotel you do have somewhat of a built in "guest audience" during the week. Because we are in downtown Hartford, we have many corporate clients during the week. We are busiest on Sunday night and Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, instead of on the weekend. We also reap the benefits of the Convention Center next door. It’s also a much larger operation – we have banquet operations, concessions. There is food everywhere in the hotel and I have influence over anything that comes in.
What is a signature dish that defines you as a chef?
I have huge love for seafood – just because of the freshness of it. We bring it in daily in small amounts. I'd rather sell out of an item then serve day old fish. At the moment, our swordfish is a wonderful dish. It has a dry spice rub and a marinade of olive oil. It's cut in the afternoon, around two or three, for a dinner service which starts at five. It's basted in orange tarragon butter and presented with a simple spinach and parmesan risotto, with roasted artichokes.
Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert were recently at the Bushnell – Ripert spoke about the negative, stressful culture perpetuated by chefs like Gordon Ramsay on his show, Kitchen Nightmares. How do you handle and resolve verbal disputes in your kitchen?
I'd be lying if I said I'd never worked somewhere where people yelled. I think, in general, the professionalism is getting better. For us, it's a huge part of the Marriott corporate culture to have respect in and out of the kitchen. I assume Ramsay does most of the yelling for the ratings. Rarely do you see people who actually get away with yelling, cussing, and swearing in the kitchen. But I would agree that it’s a negative portrayal – it makes back of the house look chaotic and it's actually – for the most part - a well oiled machine.
Tell us about Mother’s Day preparations? What’s on the menu?
We have a great seafood bar – I just ordered fresh oysters, local Connecticut littleneck clams etc. There's smoked salmon and hot salmon. There will be a prime rib and roasted leg of lamb carving station, as well as ham, because everyone likes options. There will also be omelet and breakfast stations, as well as pasta stations. This is one of the largest buffets I've ever seen, and the desserts are outrageous. Mothers over the age of 62 eat free!