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By Alicia Kellogg Photography by Julien McRoberts


t’s dinnertime at the home of Tom White, professional chef and co-owner of Il Vicino restaurants. Tom is in the kitchen, deftly moving between the six-burner Wolf range and the wood-topped prep area, where chopped thyme waits for tonight’s bruschetta appetizer. A bowlful of corn kernels and a ripe red pepper stand by for the fresh vegetable succotash that will accompany a generous fillet of salmon. With his materials close at hand, space to spread out, and a high-performance stove ready to bring the heat, Tom is in his element. “I’ve tried to set up the kitchen how I like to work in a restaurant,” he explains. Here his menu often favors rustic, down-to-earth Italian, his favorite cuisine. “It’s in my DNA at this point,” notes this founding owner of Scalo Northern Italian Grill and current co-owner of Two Fools Tavern and the new Il Vicino Brewing Company & Canteen in Albuquerque. After work on any given evening, you’re likely to find Tom in his home kitchen, preparing one of his family’s regular pasta nights or homemade rotisserie chicken with a green salad, another of their go-to meals. “It’s always kind of on the fly,” he says. “But we cook here almost every night.” Tom, his wife, Deanne Zirker, and their seven-year-old son, Connor, actually manage to share two meals together on most days, with Deanne preparing breakfast and Tom doing dinner. The key to making it possible, given their variety of busy schedules, is preparation. Tom recommends keeping a lot of quality ingredients on hand, which at his place means organic extra–virgin olive oil, delicious balsamic and sherry vinegars, a nice selection of pastas, good meat rubs, and fresh vegetables. More unusual gourmet supplies—such as truffle paste—find their way into this chef ’s kitchen too. Even so, Tom describes his home cooking as fairly basic. “What I’ve learned to appreciate is how to do good food simply,” he says. As the week winds down and gives way to a more relaxed pace, Tom takes the opportunity to “turn up the volume” and make something a bit more elaborate. Like tonight, when he and Deanne are hosting dinner for friends who live nearby: Jason and Lauren Greene, owners of The Grove Cafe & Market in Albuquerque’s East Downtown neighborhood, and their daughter, Avery. These neighbors know food. Jason, who’s executive chef at The Grove, brought over the kale salad with toasted almonds, apples, and aged cheddar that sits on the bar—a



Su Casa Summer 2011  

Su Casa Summer 2011