Living the American dream
Chef Dean Waziry started his cooking career in a French restaurant in New York – as a dishwasher.Immigrating from Egypt to New York, Waziry was eager to learn all he could to make a living in the United States. A French chef appreciated his hard work, took him under his wing and taught him how to cook classically French. After carving a culinary niche for himself in New York, as well as racking up the accolades, Waziry moved to Vail to take on the challenge of executive chef at the Marriott Mountain Grille.”Cooking needs to be as simple as possible,” Waziry said. “It is not about how many ingredients you use, it is about balance.”Waziry started the evening with his signature salad ($5.95), a perfect example of how the chef balances flavors. Raspberry vinaigrette is drizzled on top mixed baby greens, sun-dried cherries, pistachio nuts, fresh raspberries and crumbled blue cheese. Paired with a Chateau St. Michelle Riesling, the salad is light and refreshing.
“The cheese is strong on the salad, so I pair fruit with it to balance out its strength and add the nuts for crunch,” Waziry said.Waziry doesn’t want his cooking to be a guessing game. He wants you to taste all the flavors.”I want to keep the integrity of the flavors,” Waziry said.Next, Waziry sent out his sunset-colored open faced lobster ravioli ($12.95). The dish is extremely rich and buttery, which makes it a great choice to share as an appetizer. Chunks of lobster meat, wild mushrooms, asparagus, diced tomatoes, shallots and tarragon are served on top of fresh pasta. The plate is finished with a lobster claw. A buttery chardonnay compliments the mushrooms and shallots nicely. The dish is an eye-pleaser too, as is all Waziry’s concoctions. His skillful presentations belie his simple style of cooking, but it’s no surprise because the Egyptian chef was first inspired by art.
“Art is my passion,” Waziry said. “So, I thought, why couldn’t I make cooking into an art. So I did.”Waziry carves chocolate, and he’s quite good at it too. For his sweet statues he has won the Society Culinaire Philanthropique Grand Prize, American Culinary Federation Medal of Recognition and 15 gold medals from various states across the East Coast. Photographs of his winning chocolate pieces reveal yet another passion – women. Almost all of his carvings are of nudes. The playful chef just smiled coyly when asked how he feels about women.Waziry’s porcini crusted filet mignon ($29.95) is the signature item on the menu. It is served with truffled potato puree, dressed with fresh spinach and a port wine sauce that tastes sweet and fruity. Adam Aron requests it when Waziry caters for his private parties.Waziry’s hosted many dining parties himself, as well as served as a private chef for parties with famous guests like the Iranian president and the Prime Minister of Israel.
“Al Gore was my favorite,” Waziry said. “He was very down to earth and very friendly. He actually came into the kitchen for some time, hung out and asked questions.”Cooking in his home or for private parties gives Waziry an opportunity to teach. Waziry loves to teach people to cook. He likes to reveal to his guests his techniques and simplicity.”I like to be part of the joy on their face when they taste something that they made themselves that they had originally thought was so complicated,” Waziry said.Vail Daily Arts and Entertainment Editor, Cassie Pence can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail Colorado