By Vincenza Di Maggio
“We have an opportunity to do something really special here, and things that are special take time,” says Chef Alex Stratta as he casually raises his hot cup of coffee and motions towards his surroundings.
He’s sitting at a table inside of his latest culinary endeavor, his newly opened New York City restaurant, Bigoli — http://bigolirestaurant.com/. It’s only 2pm and the restaurant has not yet opened for dinner. It’s quiet… peaceful – well, except for the occasional sounds of clinking plates and running water emanating from the kitchen as the staff prepares for the dinner crowd. The chairs still sit on top of the wooden tables. Light floods into the dining room through the enormous skylight above, and the brick oven has just been turned on, the fire slowly warming up the room. The relaxing atmosphere suits him.
He’s right, things that are special do take time. And who would know it better than him? For over 30 years the renowned chef has worked and succeeded in developing an exciting career; the majority of which was spent working in the kitchens of Michelin two-star restaurants. Stratta’s name has become synonymous with “fine dining” and often evokes images of white tablecloths, elegantly folded napkins, mahogany coffered ceilings, crystal chandeliers, and tiny food portions. But with the opening of Bigoli, a casual neighborhood Italian restaurant located in Greenwich Village, he has decided to leave the luxurious dining experience behind. In fact, he’s stepping away from heat of the stove entirely and exploring a different aspect of the culinary industry – restaurant consulting. He says, “After 30 years of experience I’m doing something completely new which is what’s exciting about the restaurant business.”
It’s a business that’s in his blood. Stratta’s roots in the hospitality industry reach back to his great great grandfather who once owned a hotel in Piemonte, a Northern region of Italy bordering France and Switzerland. Generations later, across the Atlantic Ocean, Stratta’s father continued the family tradition by running a hotel company that required Stratta to make frequent trips from New York to Connecticut. As a fifth generation hotelier Stratta says, “I grew up surrounded by good food and good service. It became a part of who I was. I naturally gravitated towards the kitchen.”
Stratta started working his first kitchen job at the age of 15 at Manero’s Steakhouse in Greenwich, Connecticut. He slowly worked his way from dishwasher, to line cook, and 20 years later to executive chef at Mary Elaine’s restaurant at the Phoenician resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. Years later he was invited by Steve Wynn to the Wynn Las Vegas Resort where he worked as executive chef of his two namesake restaurants, Alex and Stratta. It was in the kitchen of these fine dining restaurants that he really established himself as one of Las Vegas’ most notable chefs.
Stratta, who has become somewhat of a celebrity, thinks back to the beginning of his career and recalls, “When I was a cook and becoming a chef it wasn’t such an admirable position as it is now. The biggest challenge for me is finding the balance between
Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »