Classic Culinary Arts, 2007
Executive Chef, Grindhaus, Red Hook, Brooklyn
What were you doing before you attended culinary school?
“I was a biology major in college with the idea of going on to medical school, but as fate would have it, after graduating with no job, I decided to go to the ICC”. He credits his grandmother with spring-boarding him into the kitchen. “Happiness is creating,” he says, and you can actually hear the smile in his voice when he says it. “Once I toured the school and saw the students in their environment, I was hooked. When I attended, I worked hard; I came in early and left late, had perfect attendance, volunteered every week at the James Beard House. I met Lee Anne Wong at the ICC and she put me in touch with Harold Dieterle; that was the beginning of everything for me! I was at the right place, at the right time, and the stars were aligned…that never would have happened had I not been at the ICC.”
How did you arrive at your “culinary signature”?
“My signature comes back from the Harold days, when we would argue who had the better cuisine, the Italians or the French? Harold would say, ‘When we get our own place, let’s just make good food.’ What is most important to me is that I supply everyone who eats in my place with a good time. Every chef also develops his or her own personal technique; for instance, at Grindhaus, we always sun-proof our bread, which is all baked on the premises. I also like to make my own ajvar, which I think of as “Serbian ketchup,” and one night there was a guest in the dining room from Serbia, who loved my ajvar, and who just happened to be a good friend of Ted Allen. Ted came in to eat and gave me some social media love, then offered me a spot of Food Network’s Chopped. Did I mention we were voted one of the best burgers in NYC by Thrillist?
What do you see for Joe in the next 5 years?
“Well, hopefully a little more available and family time. I’m already looking at real estate in Pittsburgh for a new brick and mortar. The owners of Toro in NYC are good friends of mine and they are thinking of heading out there. Pittsburgh is really developing a food scene. I also want to give back…I’d love to do demos at the school, come in to grade finals, even hire externs.”