Interview With Chef Michael Galata The Renaissance Man
ichael Galata was born in 1980 in New Jersey where he grew up in his family’s restaurant. This is where he was initially exposed to the business as a whole and where he discovered his love for food and his talent in cooking. He worked since the young age from the ground up. After graduating from high school, Michael took over kitchen and helped to manage the business. At the same time he attended Hudson County Community College culinary arts program and in 1999 earned Associate Degree. Michael went on to work at the Stage House Inn ( 3 star New York Times ) under Chef/owner David Drake. That’s where he was exposed to and learned all the practical foundations of fine dining as well as the determination and dedication that are involved in the process. After two years, Michael, 21 years old, inspired, was ready to move on. That’s when his journey with the Maccioni family and Le Cirque began and continues to this day. At Le Cirque 2000 Michael was working under chef Pierre Schaedelin. He worked his way from the bottom to the position of Sous Chef when he was 22. He was valued and appreciated by the Maccionis and was asked to join the new Le Cirque crew when it reopened in May 2006. During the time of constructing the new Le Cirque, Michael did kitchen consulting and worked as a personal chef for different clients including Martha Stewart and the Gold family of Gold Foods International. Upon the opening of the new Le Cirque, Michael worked with chef Pierre Schendlin and later during the chef changes, he worked one year for chef Christophe Bellanca and eventually one year for chef Craig Hopson when he exited as executive Sous Chef in January 2010. The Maccioni family asked him to take over the Executive Chef position in their other restaurant in NYC, Osteria Del Circo where he is blossoming and creating fabulous Italian dishes. Besides his love for cooking and the restaurant business, Michael lives in Brooklyn with his beautiful girlfriend. He has a passion and loves to travel and learn about the world, people, cultures, and incorporates that knowledge into his life. He is a student of the world. His expression of art – cooking. Michael as a chef has passion for learning and is always trying to improve his food and technique. He knows that being a chef also means to be a leader and part of a team; that skill he learned from his father years ago … “we can always grow and improve no matter how satisfied we are with the current result.”
Photography is the Chefs Hobby More at www.mikegalataphotography.com.
12 / Summer 2011
By: John Rizzo
hat is a “Renaissance Man?” We hear, all too often I think, that so-andso is a Renaissance Man. It is usually understood that such a person is multifaceted, in that he is a master of two or more decidedly different skills. If this is an acceptable definition of the term, then Michael Galata is for sure a Renaissance Man! Galata was referred to me because of his position as chief chef at Osteria del Circo, at 120 W. 55th St. in Manhattan. This restaurant is the Italian spinoff of the world-famous Le Cirque, the brainchild of yet another Italian immigrant who became fabulously wealthy realizing the American Dream, Sirio Maccioni. When I, who will probably never dine at Le Cirque, innocently asked Michael who Sirio Maccioni is, he answered “He is the god of fine dining.” After doing some research on the Internet, I understand what he means. Le Cirque is more than a French restaurant, where you might start off your meal with scrambled eggs and caviar, it is a New York institution, the capital of a dining empire that now extends to several continents. It is a tribute to Michael Galata’s culinary skills that he became the sous chef of Le Cirque in his early twenties. It is fitting that Galata, whose people come from Calabria, was tapped to be the head man in the kitchen of the Osteria when Sirio Maccioni decided to open an Italian version of his established palace of the pampered palate. “I was raised in my family’s Italian restaurant in Westfield, New Jersey,” says Michael. “After culinary school I honed my skill at French cuisine as a cook at Le Cirque.” The Osteria del Circo offers fare that one might not find at a typical Italian restaurant. For dinner you can order dishes like Hawaiian Sushi Tuna, Brandy Flambéed Shrimp with fried artichokes, pumpkin tortelli with an Amaretto crumble, pappardelle with duck ragu and Pecorino crusted rack of lamb. For dessert, try an apple raisin tart with gelato.
Ingridients 1500 Grams Durum Flour 30 Grams Pumpkin Seed Oil 3 Whole Eggs 45 Gram Salt 1 Large pumpkin (q uartered and seeded) 8 oz. finely choppe d mustard fruit 12 oz Parmigiano ½ oz Ground Nutm eg 2oz Salt Pumpkin Tortelli Do ugh Mix all the dry ing redients in a mixer with dough hook an d add all the wet ing redients. Let the do for 24 hours. ugh sit Pumpkin Puree Recip e Roast pumpkin in 40 0F convection oven for 2 hours until so Mash through the fo ft. od a refrigerator for 12 mill and hang in a sieve over a bowl in -14 remaining ingredien hours. Discard the liquid. Mix all the ts. Tortellis are served
Polpo alla Brace
with brown butter sa
Grilled Octopus wi th Roasted Pear Tom Chorizo, Chickpeas, atoes, Charred Sc allions and Black Kale, Se rves 2 Ingredients 2 baby octopi (poa ch carrots, onions an ed in white wine and d celery for 2 hour s until soft) 1 chorizo sausage (grilled and sliced into ¼ inch circles) 8oz cooked chick peas (cooked till soft with onions and garlic) Nevertheless Michael believes that Italian is the dominant ethnic cuisine, 4 scallions (grilled “because of its simple ingredients and purity.” (By the way, at the Osteria with olive oil, salt pepper until char and you can get pizza or pasta with Bolognese sauce if you want something more red) 10 grape tomatoes “simple.’) Galata works hard at his restaurant: “I spend exactly 12 hours per (roasted whole at 40 4 oz black kale bl day there.” His dedication and skill have earned him the attention of a previanched and shocke 0F for 16 min) d 2oz fresh bread cr ous subject of Amici Journal, Nick Stellino, probably the King of Italian TV outons 1 Tbsp of sherry chefs. “I’ve done a show with Stellino and will be featured in another on vinegar 1oz extra virgin ol TBS” in a couple of months. Many of his recipes “come from Mrs. [Egidiana] ive oil freshly ground bl Maccioni,” Sirio’s wife. His own creations “are seasonally driven, but certain ack pepper to taste staples work year round.” Not surprisingly, given all the time he puts in cookCut the tentacles off ing for a living, he rarely cooks for himself at home. “I go out for dinner at per. Grill them un the octopus and toss them in oliv e til crispy and rese least one or two times a week.” rve. Heat olive oi oil, salt and pepchorizo, grape to l m in ato a sauté pan, add es an d roast for 2 With all Michael Galata has going as the chef of an upscale mid-town back of the spoon, add 8oz of cooked min.Crush the tomatoes with the Manhattan eatery you’d think that was enough for anyone, right? Wrong! cooking broth. Ad d scallions, black chickpeas and 2oz of the chickpea With his extensive experience in gourmet cooking, I figured that he’d alkale, a boil for 1 min. Re move from the he sherry wine vinegar and bring to ready have written a book on the subject or be coming out with one soon. So pepper. In a bowl at, add croutons an place chickpea m d cracked black I was taken aback when Michael told me, “Not right now, but I’d like to do ixture with the br octopus. Garnish oth and top with wi th fresh basil and a book of my photography,” which he described as his “hobby.” I personally the olive oil. think it’s more than that. He has quite a few samples of his work online at www.mikegalataphotography.com. Browsing through his web site it is not hard to appreciate Galata’s artistry, when it comes to photography. The man is fascinated by bright colors and honest emotion. He obviously has traveled extensively to some very exotic places and has made a vital and creative photographic record of the both the scenery and the people he has encountered. He also has a very enjoyable batch of interesting photos of the often surreal environment of New York City. It’s easy to imagine the publication of a book of Michael Galata’s photography.
So Michael is a “Renaissance Man” in his dual appeal to the visual and gastronomic senses. It is rare that one man can please his diners and his viewers in so many ways. It won’t be long before his accomplishments as both a chef and a photographer will be celebrated in a big way!
Summer 2011 / 13
Published on May 24, 2011