Courtesy of Troutbeck
By Anna Martucci
About growing up in Carmel, New York, Troutbeck’s executive chef Vincent Gilberti said he was fortunate to have a lot of family close by, and time together was always centered around food.
His grandparents in White Plains always made sure to have a supply of cured meats, olives, cheeses and crusty bread during their weekend visits. But it wasn’t until his family moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, when he was 16 that his passion for food really began. It was there that he joined the German Club, whose partnership with Johnson & Wales University first introduced him to cooking.
During high school, Gilberti also worked at a Greek restaurant as a host, dishwasher and line cook. The appeal, he said, was the sense of camaraderie with the fellow line cooks and the friends he made that he couldn’t have met in high school. He valued what it took for all these people to come together to create a meal.
“As a kid, you don’t think about all the moving parts,” Gilberti said. “As I got older and worked in the restaurant, I had a better understanding of the total experience the restaurant provides — it’s not just the food, it’s not just the atmosphere, it’s everything coming together to create a complete experience.”
After high school, Gilberti attended the French Culinary Institution in Manhattan. He chose the accelerated program because although he got a lot out of school, he knew the real learning took place on the job. After graduating, he worked at Keith McNally’s Pulino’s for three years until leaving to be a part of the opening team at Dover in Brooklyn, where he worked his way up from line cook to sous chef.
From there, Gilberti joined his mentor, Walker Stern, at the restaurant Battersby, for what Gilberti described as the highlight of his career so far: “It was a very special moment for me to work hand in hand with Walker. In most restaurants, you don’t have that direct relationship with the chef. It greatly expanded my horizons and really helped me push the limits with my skills.”
Next was Michelin-starred Clinton Hill restaurant The Finch, where Gilberti joined chef Gabe McMackin. McMackin was also establishing himself at Troutbeck and eventually invited Gilberti to make the join him there as the chef de cuisine.
“I respected and admired Gabe and his philosophy, so I obliged and came to Troutbeck,” said Gilberti. After a brief sojourn at contemporary Italian restaurant SPQR in San Francisco, Gilberti was invited back to Troutbeck to be its executive chef.
Anna Martucci: What, besides your working relationship with chef McMackin, attracted you to Troutbeck?
Vincent Gilberti: The property is extremely special and has a deep-rooted history, and I saw the opportunity that it held. I really admired and respected the owners and their mission and goals and what they wanted to accomplish. They are very much a part of and active in the community here. Not everyone chooses to run their business trying to support the businesses around them, but that is very important to Troutbeck. I also knew it was a great opportunity to learn I had never been a chef for a hotel before and had to quickly learn the ways of navigating weddings and banquets.
AM: In what ways do you use your role as chef to connect to the Hudson Valley community?
VG: In every possible way I can, I try to work with as many local farmers, purveyors and producers as possible. I can’t say that I’m sourcing everything from the Hudson Valley, because I do have to rely on outside sources, but as much as possible, that is the goal. The other goal, which is in the Troutbeck mission statement, is zero waste. I try to use every little thing that I can out of everything we acquire.
AM: Why is connecting to the community important to you?
VG: I’m always thinking about how I can meet other individuals, like-minded or not, in this community and how I can support them in ways that are beneficial for everyone. I want to see every business in this community succeed. We can all work together to make the Hudson Valley what it is. Together we can attract people to this area to experience what we have to offer. I want to help make people realize how special this community is and reflect on the people that are here and make them feel special.
AM: What would you say your specialty is?
VG: People always ask me that, but it’s not about one specific thing for me — I have a lot to bring to the table. I will say, however, that one thing that I’m very passionate about is pasta. It was a passion created at Pulino’s and finessed at Battersby with Walker Stern — he is a savant.
Here at Troutbeck, we will sometimes have three to four different pasta dishes on the menu depending what is happening that week. We are thinking about doing a community-night dinner of pasta dishes, in a way trying to create my Sundays at grandma’s with a beautiful salad, antipasto, housemade bread, and a few pasta options. We have the reputation of being expensive, and there is a cost associated with trying to use local businesses, but I also want to be accessible to people who don’t necessarily want to spend $50 on an entree. We want it to be high quality but still affordable, because the mission of Troutbeck is to be inclusive of the community.
AM: How has the Hudson Valley farm-to-table food scene grown and changed during your lifetime?
VG: Growing up, the farm-to-table establishment wasn’t a thing. In the ‘90s, people were more concerned with quantity over quality. I’ve seen a significant shift of people being more cognizant of what they are eating. They want to know where the steelhead trout is from — is it farmed or is it wild-caught? I see that as the biggest shift, but there is a high cost in that. I see my job as making farm-to-table food be inclusive because I want people in the community to feel comfortable coming here and enjoying what we have to offer.
AM: What would you like to see more of in the agricultural community in this area?
VG: We already have an establishment of great local farms — I’d love to see more of them so we can continue to support the community. I have this opportunity to work with all these people who are just as excited about food as I am. Continuing to build relationships with local farms and the community and sharing it with the guests that come through the door — that is what I am most excited about.
AM: What do you love most about this area?
VG: I really like being away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It’s nice to be surrounded by nature, it’s nice to be able to go out on hikes. In my personal time, I love to forage and try to make something out of things I find that people wouldn’t normally eat. Come May, you will find morels and ramps all over the Troutbeck property. And I like to cook for my friends.
AM: What do you most appreciate about working at Troutbeck?
VG: The people. It takes an army to do what we are doing here. And I think, across the board in every department we have, everyone has a mutual respect for one another. At any given moment I can call on someone and they will be there for me. It has become a second family for me. I feel special to work with a group of individuals who support one another and have each other’s backs. This article is about Troutbeck and Vinny, but it is so much more than that. I couldn’t do this without the people in the kitchen who support me. There are so many people that it takes to make this happen for everyone and I really just admire them all and I can’t thank them enough. I’m grateful to have every single person on this property.
Keep ReadingShow less
Today it feels like all life won’t end tomorrow, but a week or so ago not so much. Man oh man it was cold. It. Was. Cold. Could see your breath freezing in the air when you tried to talk. Seemed like no one would hear what you said until the vapor cloud thawed out sometime next spring. Didn’t want to go out. Didn’t want to get up. Didn’t want to do much of anything but sit around with my blankie. Probably freeze to death just walking from the house to the car.
Which, inevitably, led to thoughts about mortality. I know plenty of people who think you might as well go ahead and eat as much bacon as you want before you go, at least you’ll die happy. If you’re one of them, this might help you check that one off your bucket list.
Linguine with Bacon, Mushrooms and Something Green
1 pound of linguine. I like linguine, use what you like. Buy Italian bronze die-cut pasta, available at every store I go to. So much better.
5 or 6 big Portobello mushroom caps, cleaned. These are easier to clean than small mushrooms, but you can use those instead. The gills on these big caps aren’t good to eat; scrape them out with a small spoon. Chop into generous chunks.
Half of a big red or yellow onion, chopped. You can also use green onions.
1 or 2 cloves of garlic, mashed
Butter and neutral olive oil. I use Berio.
Bacon, anywhere from 1/2 a pound up to a pound, up to you. Cut across the slices into pieces about 3/4-inch or so wide. Thick-cut or regular bacon, either is fine.
Salt — I use Maldon sea salt flakes, easily found. You’ll never go back.
Freshly ground black pepper and red pepper flakes
Baby arugula, which I had in the refrigerator. You could also use baby spinach leaves, endive cut crosswise, parsley, chives, etc. Anyway, something green, so when St. Peter says So, it was bacon that got you? you can point virtuously to the green stuff you threw in. I should warn you it’s possible he may have heard that one before.
One great thing about this is that you can have the work almost totally done way ahead of time. Serves six.
1. Put some butter and oil, a couple of tablespoons of each, into a skillet over low heat. Cook the onions until they are softened and fairly translucent. Tilt the pan, put in a bit more oil, add the garlic. Let the garlic bubble in the oil for a minute or so. Do not brown the garlic. Stir it into the onions. Remove this mix and its oil to a bowl.
2. Heat your pan so it’s medium hot, then add the same amount of butter and oil. Add the mushrooms and quickly stir to coat them. Put a lid on, and after a few minutes, take it off. The mushrooms will have exuded water. Turn the heat up to high to evaporate it, then continue cooking at a slightly lower temperature. Stand there and keep an eye out while you stir: They should brown nicely. Remove them to a bowl. Both of these steps can be done a day or two ahead. Keep the bowls, covered, in the refrigerator.
3. The morning of the day you’re having the pasta, cook the bacon. To keep bacon from shrinking, always start with cold bacon in a cold pan. This can be cooked at a low heat. Stir and separate the pieces; cook until nicely crisped. Don’t burn. Put the pieces on a plate on paper towels to drain, and keep on the counter until later. Wipe the bacon grease out of the pan and leave the covered pan on the stove. You can leave a small amount of grease in the pan; you needn’t wash it.
4. At suppertime, put the mushrooms and onions in the pan and heat them.
5. Boil the pasta.
6. Quickly drain the pasta and mix it with the mushroom mix.
7. Mix in the bacon.
8. Mix in a few big spoonfuls of parmesan.
9. Mix in your fresh greens, as much or as little as you’d like, and toss. I put in a couple of good-sized handfuls.
Serve this in heated bowls or plates with additional cheese, salt and the two peppers on the table. Bread on the side. Heaven. Well, close enough.
Pamela Osborne lives in Salisbury.
Keep ReadingShow less
EGREMONT, Mass. — Resolved to offer his alternative candidacy for the office of U.S. president in 2024, Copake, New York, resident Mark Warren Moody began his unorthodox campaign in earnest with an announcement Saturday, Feb. 17, at the Egremont Barn.
During a pause in a sold-out Wanda Houston concert featuring the singer and her back-up band, the Rejuvenators, Moody took the stage to make his planned announcement, beginning with a brief vocal rendition of “Amazing Grace.” The idea of a song and the choice, he noted, borrowed from the playbook of former U.S. President Barack Obama.
“I want this job; that’s why I should have it. We need something new,” Moody said, naming his first of three reasons for running, and noting that the name of the evening’s band was appropriate: Moody wants to “rejuvenate” the country.
He added that he fully meets the eligibility requirements for the presidency. He was born in New York City in 1970. Despite spending his school years in England, he still meets the requirements of the presidency.
Moody’s professional life is that of a practicing attorney whose office is in Manhattan, although he now makes his home in Copake, in a residence that had been purchased by his parents.
“I’m willing to die for my country,” Moody said, describing the depth of his fervor. This was provided as his second reason for running.
“I believe in the promise of America,” he said, naming the third reason that compels him to be a candidate. He recalled the words of the Declaration of Independence, saying that they were appropriate to the present day, and pointed to Thomas Paine’s 18th-century pamphlet, “Common Sense.”
“I am incorruptible,” he concluded, adding that he has “nothing more than a bunch of ideas.”
His ideas are presented in an essay on his website. Moody indicated that he has no organization or campaign committee structure.
In explaining the “betabilitarian” origins and applications on his website, Moody writes that secrets of the universe are unknowable. Avid information-gathering is all that’s possible in a search for truth.
It is not important what a person thinks, only that the person does think for themselves, Moody argues.
More information about Moody’s political philosophy is available on the website that also describes his new political party: www.betabilitarian.com
Keep ReadingShow less
SHARON — An effort to understand more about organizations included in the town’s annual expense budget led the Sharon Board of Finance to invite representatives of the Sharon Playhouse to attend its regular meeting Tuesday, Feb. 20.
Representing the playhouse at the meeting were Rod Christensen, managing director, and Michael Baldwin, associate artistic director and director of education, who reviewed the ongoing programs that positively impact the community, introduced the 2024 season, and spoke of capital projects being planned.
“We want the Sharon Playhouse to be a place of community,” said Baldwin, adding, “The buzz is strong; our programming is strong.” He emphasized the robust program that involves youth of all ages who participate in the educational wing.
Reviewing the YouthStage program, Baldwin reported growth to six productions, with eight weeks of programming to reach over 150 young people.
“Our demand is high,” Baldwin said, noting that the playhouse has hired over 220 theater professionals and entertained over 16,000 patrons. More than 1,000 students were served by playhouse programs in the past year, Baldwin said, describing outreach programs to area schools.
“The Sharon Playhouse stands at the intersection of arts and community,” Baldwin said, adding that the support of the town is appreciated.
Outlining capital expense projects to be accomplished in the coming years, Christensen described planning to expand and pave the parking lot to accommodate growing audiences, estimated to cost $250,000.
Another essential project will replace the septic arrangement, estimated at $60,000-$75,000. And a third would reimagine and reconfigure the lobby area to include an accessible patron restroom, at a projected cost of $150,000.
Finance board member Jessica Fowler asked about the playhouse’s donor base. Christensen replied that half of income is from donations and the other half comes from generated revenue.
The Town of Sharon has allocated $5,000 annually to the Playhouse for some years.
Tom Bartram, Finance Board chairman, noted the value of the educational program to the children enrolled in Sharon Day Care.
Representing the Sharon Environment and Energy Commission, member Doug Rick provided a report on estimated energy cost savings of $1.3 million to be realized by the solar array project at Sharon Center School.
Continuing consideration of the removal of capital expenditures from the Board of Education (BOE) budget to include those expenses within the selectmen’s budget, Bartram reported that Doug Cahill, BOE chairman, had indicated that capital expense costs will not be a significant entry in the proposed budget for the coming year.
Removal of the capital expense line is an effort on the part of the town to reduce the state’s mandated minimum budget requirement that annually impacts the town’s education budget.
Keep ReadingShow less