24 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10011
StarChefs: How old are you?
Shea Gallante: 31
SC: What inspired you
to start working in a pizzeria at age 14?
SG: It was one of three
jobs available in small town USA for a kid under the age of
SC: Why did you attend
CIA? Would you recommend culinary school to aspiring chefs
SG: It was a no-brainer
for me. I figured I’d look around a bit, but I grew
up in Dutchess County. Yes, I recommend culinary school. But,
the right intentions make a world of difference.
SC: You’ve worked
with Pino Luongo, Lidia Bastianich, Fortunato Nicotra and
David Bouley. Who do you consider your most influential mentor?
Why? What did they teach you?
SG: I learned from each.
Pino was a multi-unit operator, but he had small company values.
I learned about management and consistent numbers from him.
From David I learned finesse, technique. I learned how to
operate on a higher level, honing my palate. He taught me
that everything is a component on a plate, whereas at Felidia,
we braised and did many one-pot meals. Lidia is a great businesswoman;
a smart employer. And, from Fortunato Nicotra I learned a
lot about creativity, ingredients.
SC: We read in your bio that while working in Bouley’s
kitchen, you “explored the avant-garde techniques of
the Spanish masters.” Which in particular? Have you
spent any time in Spain working with them?
SG: I learned many techniques
from David when he came back from his trips in 2000-2003.
SC: Which chefs do
you consider to be your peers?
SG: Any young chef. Neal
Gallagher, Johnny Iuzzini, Brad Thompson, Wylie Dufresne,
SC: Are there any secret
ingredients that you especially like? Why?
SG: I try to exploit
every possible seasonal ingredient. Black winter truffles,
fresh fish, mushrooms.
SC: What is your most
indispensable kitchen tool? Why?
My combi-oven. Nothing can replace it. Best tool any kitchen
SC: Is there a culinary
technique that you have either created or use in an unusual
way? Please describe.
SG: I more try to focus energy on making my food taste better.
I’m very meticulous in execution. But, I operate in
a spontaneous way; I like to put things together on the spot.
SC: What emerging trends
do you see in the industry?
SG: It’s getting
more technical; more molecular cooking. There’s a focus
on commercial grade products applied to an entrepreneurial
level: gums, stabilizers.
SC: What is your favorite
question to ask during an interview for a potential new line
SG: What are your goals?
What stage do you think you’re at in your career? What
are you going to accomplish working for me? If somebody asks
how much the job pays- I don’t want that person.
SC: What tips would
you offer young chefs just getting started?
SG: Moving around a
lot is a bad thing. One year isn’t enough to learn from
any good chef. I’ve been in New York for nine years
and have had three jobs. You need time to learn.
SC: What are your favorite
SG: I have hundreds
of them. Some of the latest I’ve acquired are pastry
books: Iginio Massari. I just bought Marino Cedrini’s
SC: Where do you go
for culinary travel?
of the purest places to eat simple food.
SC: What are your favorite
restaurants in NYC – not necessarily fine dining?
SG: Masa, 66, Omen,
Sushi Yasuda, Oceana, I don’t get out much.
SC: Where do you see
yourself in 5 years? In 10 years?
SG: Working for my unborn
child! In five years I hope to have a few restaurants.