Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Accademia di Vino

August 14

I had a nice chat with Kevin Garcia today. He has been the executive chef at ’Cesca on the Upper West Side since it opened. Before that he was at Del Posto, and he also was in Las Vegas for quite awhile at Prime, Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s steakhouse there. He worked at Lupa, too.
Now he’s teaming up with ’Cesca owner Anthony Mazzola to open a new restaurant and enotica called Accademia di Vino. Kevin will be executive chef at both restaurants. He says he has a good team in place at ’Cesca, led by Ghanaian sous chef Mattey Orfori. Running day-to-day operations at Accademia will be Sond Ponrahono, a Malaysian. The place is supposed to open tomorrow.
Each restaurant has two additional sous chefs in place, too.
I had a feeling Kevin was maybe feeling just slightly defensive about being a chef with more than one restaurant, but it’s not something I have a problem with. Executive chefs are managers. If they’ve done their jobs right, they can manage more than one place.
The food at the new restaurant will be less appetizer-entrée-dessert and more come-and-do-what-you-like, according to the general manager, John Fanning, who was previously GM at i Truli, and before that at Beppe. Before that he had a restaurant and wine bar in Rome.
The culinary focus will be Italian regional, with special attention being paid to local, seasonal ingredients, as is appropriate or Italian food. Kevin even named a particular farmer, Rick Bishop of Mountain Sweet Berry Farm in Roscoe, N.Y., as an important influence on how the food would taste.
Accademia di Vino also will feature grilled pizza, a specialty of Al Forno in Providence. Where Kevin worked while he was a student at Johnson & Wales.
You just never know what experience is going to come in handy.

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