The following interview is with Chef Edwin Bellanco from Morrell Wine Bar & Cafe.
Was being an exec Chef something youâ€™ve always wanted to? Did you find something sexy about it?
I became a Chef by default. Iâ€™ve always had to support myself and started cooking when I was 14 and in college I decided to make the leap.
As far as the sexy side of it, Iâ€™ve always had the realistic expectations that it was hard work. There is however something sexy about it, something about the process, about the way a kitchen feels and sounds. It is something that Iâ€™ve always loved and been drowned to.
It is not so recently that these Superstar Chefs started coming out and it was the hot industry to get into. It really wasnâ€™t for a long time.
It was more of an apprenticeship when you worked with good chefs for a long time to learn their craft and trade.
What chef has influenced you the most and why?
There are so many incredible Chefs Iâ€™ve worked with that I hate to narrow it down but if I had to pick one it would be David Bouley as my most inspirational one.
Iâ€™ve never seen anybody who is in constant pursuit of what is next. He could rest on his laurels but he is always trying to do the next hottest restaurant.
He is really a chef concerned about the audience he is cooking for. He is always looking forward to keeping his customers excited, to making them want to come back to his restaurants.
What is the biggest difference between working in a fine dining restaurant and Morrel Wine Bar and CafÃ©?
The biggest difference is that at Morrell it is an all electric-kitchen. It is all induction and it is a very small kitchen. This is however thee biggest differences stopped. I am trying to buy the freshest ingredients with the best techniques.
You also try to keep the cooking approachable because we have a very touristy crowd. We cannot be too adventurous.
What is the greatest rewarding moment as a Chef?
First itâ€™s always instant gratification when you come up with a new dish, a new menu. The most rewarding moment however is when you walk into the dining room and see clean plates, people dipping their bread in the plate because they cannot get enough. I also love seeing young cooks embracing what weâ€™re doing here and seeing them to try to improve the dishes, making them their own.
Do you have cheese or dessert when you go out?
I usually have both! I love dessert and cheese so you might have both when you go out!
If you had to make a cheese what type of milk would it be made of?
I donâ€™t know what it would taste like but I would choose sheepâ€™s milk.
What is your favorite cheese?
Any nice blue cheese. Right now I like the Gorgonzola Cremificato with some pears. I am a big blue cheese fan.
What amazes you in cheese in general?
The variety, the difference of flavors you can get from different milks, aging the cheese or not, the difference of textures are what amazes the most.
At Morrell, you have a large number of wines by the glass. Does your cheese plate work hand in hand with your wine program?
I donâ€™t like to pigeon hole anybody or to tell anybody what wine to drink with what cheese. First it would be hard with 100+ by the glass. Second, thank to Toni Amira, my cheese plate is quite versatile!
Do you consider your cheese program a success?
This is our most sold item so I think it is.
Has the diversity and quality of cheese evolved in the US?
Certainly! Peopleâ€™s palate has evolved. Iâ€™m from Clevland, OH and at the time when you had Brie you were blown away! Now my kids have a total different experience.
How do you manage to cook with induction with such a high pace in the dining room? Are there any dishes you had to drop because of the circumstances?
Yes. But I always start out seasonal. What the circumstances force me to do is instead of multiple ingredients I actually put some off! In a sense I donâ€™t see it as a minus, itâ€™s a way to cook in simple ways.
What do you have to say to our readers?
There are only few matches that are perfect in life.
Cheese and wine are just perfect so come over and join us at Morrell for some cheese from Artisanal Premium Cheese at Morrell!
Posted by Nicholas Scipione