Chef Manzre at Taste of Vail |

Chef Manzre at Taste of Vail

Daily Staff Report
Vail CO, Colorado
Special to the DailyJoseph Manzare will be visiting the Vail Valley as part of the Taste of Vail culinary festival in Vail.

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” Bronx native Joseph Manzare says he learned everything he knows about cooking from Wolfgang Puck.

Manzare got his big break at the original Spago in West Hollywood, Calif., where he cooked on the line with Puck. Today, both chefs head restaurant empires. Puck’s domain includes Spago in the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch in Beaver Creek.

Manzare has launched Globe restaurants in San Francisco and Venice Beach, along with Zuppa in San Francisco. And he isn’t done colonizing the cooking world yet. Next stop: Japan.

Manzare will serve his food at tonight’s Taste of Vail Grand Tasting. He answered these questions from the Vail Daily:

Vail Daily: What’s your process like for recipe development ” where do you start, what do you consider?

Joseph Manzare: I always start a recipe with quality ingredients. I use all local produce, meats and poultry raised with no hormones or antibiotics and wild fish as opposed to farmed fish. Sometimes while traveling or reading or dining out, I will be inspired by a certain dish or style of cooking, then I will see what’s around locally and make my interpretation of that. It’s a luxury to have access to professional kitchens and an audience to feed.

VD: For you, is cooking at home completely different than cooking on the line? How so?

JM: I love to cook at home ” you don’t have the constant nagging of the everyday business situations goin’ on around you. I keep some good tequila near my stove along with good olive oil, Mexican sea salt and various other pantry Items but always start off with the tequila.

VD: If you had the power to ban a food from American supermarkets, what would it be?

JM: Anything produced with hormones or antibiotics

VD: You got your big break while working for free at Spago (in Beverly Hills, I believe), where you came to the attention of Wolfgang Puck, and he gave you a full-time job. How would you compare your cooking style to his? What was it like working with him?

JM: I hate to date myself but I worked at the original Spago in West Hollywood when Wofgang only had one other restaurant and Wolf worked on the line with us every day. Wolf is an amazing guy, extremely hardworking. I have learned everything I know from Wolf, not just cooking but about the business and what makes a successful restaurant. From design, to what art you put on the walls, where you seat certain people, what wines to serve with what, starting out with a good product, etc.

My cooking style reflects that of the original Spago days when it was all about the wood oven and mesquite grill and homemade pastas.

VD: When you opened your first restaurant, Globe, what did you do to distinguish the restaurant from the rest of the San Francisco dining scene?

JM: I opened Globe on a shoe string, sold my car, maxed out my credit card and scraped together every penny I could find. Yet I followed Wolf’s formula by hiring an architect to get good design, found some local artist to hang some cool s—, piped in good music. I had my wife, Mary Klingbiel, to take care of the front of the house and put together an awesome wine list and bar program.

Most important of all, coming originally from NYC where people dine much later, I decided to stay open late. So we served until 2 a.m. and developed a loyal following of chefs and restaurant industry people.

VD: If you were limited to eating one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

JM: Spaghetti

VD: The public is getting more and more educated about authentic cuisine, techniques and ingredients. Does this give you as a chef more freedom or less?

JM: I like authentic cuisine; Zuppa is southern Italian, Pescheria is Italian seafood, Tres Agaves is authentic Mexican from the state of Jalisco where the tequila is produced.

My new place called Joey and Eddies is what I call Bronx Italian. It’s the food me and my partner grew up eating, both being Italian from the Bronx.

So yes, I think authentic is good because it gives guidelines to keep the food and concept focused yet you still have flexibility to be creative with your translations.

VD: What ingredient or technique are you all fired up about?

JM: I love making things in my mortar and pestle

VD: What ingredient or technique are you just plain tired of?

JM: Fusion food: It’s very difficult to do this style and I think too many cooks and chefs lose focus by putting too many thing in one dish.

VD: You have since opened Globe in Venice Beach and Zuppa in San Francisco. Any plans for more restaurants on the horizon?

JM: Pescheria Italian seafood, Joey and Eddies, I just spoke of and I took several trips to Japan in the last two months and am planning a sushi bar and some small ramen places.

VD: What’s the best perk about being a chef?

JM: Traveling, eating and drinking Tequila.

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