TRENDER: Chef Matt Gennuso
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Chez Pascal in Providence, and the insanely popular Hewtin’s Dogs food truck.
Local cred: Attended URI, then the Culinary Institute of America, lives in Pawtucket.
What do you like about being a chef in Rhode Island?
I like having direct access and personal relationships with the folks that make our menus possible. From all the farms who work so hard year long to provide us with fantastic inspirational produce to the fisherman and livestock farmers, it is such a great community. Also the people in our industry around here are very supportive of one another.
What are your three favorite locally-sourced ingredients? What do you make with them?
I love the act of harvesting potatoes. It is like a treasure hunt; you get your hands in the dirt and pull up these amazing versatile vegetables. It can be quite addictive. With them we make all kinds of things, potato gratin, simple whipped potatoes to potato waffles. I also like shelling beans because you can cook them instantly without soaking them and the flavor is creamy—truly represents the bean. We make lots of fresh bean ragout. Finally, a truly seasonal item—corn. Nothing beats the freshness and sweetness of local corn. We like to make things sweet and savory with it. Such as sweet corn crème brûlée and, a favorite, corn and clam chowder.
Who or what inspired you to cook? Who on the local food scene— farmer, chef, fisherman—do you follow and why?
My grandmother definitely had a hand in my vocation without realizing it. She had great cookbooks and recipes and would make things all the time. I paid attention and didn’t even realize it myself when I started cooking things because I wanted to and enjoyed it. Otherwise I don’t really ‘follow’ anyone in particular.
What is your favorite food memory from your childhood? Is there anything from back then (Spaghetti Os, Spam) that you still indulge on occasion?
My dad making pancakes for dinner, breakfast for dinner was/is always a treat. I continue to indulge in canned tuna fish— Bumble Bee, fancy albacore in water, made with Helmann’s mayonnaise (no substitutions), blended with no lumps, on Ritz crackers.
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