YONKERS, N.Y. -- As one of 12 children, I still find it hard to believe people want to read what I have to say. But after more than 30 years of cooking professionally in the Hudson Valley, literally in the shadow of Manhattan, it seems as good a time as any to reflect back on where it began and how it all came to be.
With this new Daily Voice column, appearing weekly, I hope to bring you, the reader, into my world, warts, laughter and copious amounts of good food and all.
I have been working nearly full-time since I was 12-years- old, whether as a paperboy, snow shoveler, lawn mower or a stockboy. I guess growing up in a big Irish Catholic family means you learn to fend for yourself at an early age.
With that in mind, at the tender age of 23, I decided to open my first restaurant. Of course I had no training in the kitchen and no diploma from a culinary school so I decided I would also be the chef.
After having spent time in France making a culinary pilgrimage to the Michelin three-star temples of haute cuisine my hope was to bring this sort of level of perfection to my restaurant, which I called Xaviars at Garrison. The year was 1983 and over the next three decades, using the bounty of the Hudson Valley as a palette, I learned to cook for a clientele that was never shy to tell me just what they thought.
The successes have been many -- appearances on all the major networks, in-depth interviews and articles in national publications, the only "New York Times" four-star “extraordinary” review given to a restaurant outside of Manhattan in 40 years. Xaviars also garnered the Zagat guides highest possible rating of “29”, NY State Restaurateur of the year, as well as a nomination for a James Beard award for "Best Chef Northeast." I even gave the commencement address at the Culinary institute of America, hosted Anthony Bourdain and Bill Murray for an episode of "No Reservations" and beat Bobby Flay on an appearance of "Iron Chef America."
I hope you will join me each week as I share tips that I have found over a lifetime of food, wine, family and fun. Together, I think this new venture of mine as columnist will only feed my soul -- and hopefully yours -- in a way we can both chew on.
Next week: "Charity”
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