Coffee with the Chef Pasquale Sarwar

12 Grapes Music & Wine Bar
12 N Division St, Peekskill
(914-737-6624)

Dish I Do the Best… Rib-eye steak. I often choose it for my weekend dinner specials, since the meat is so tender and juicy. I like to serve it with a cognac cream sauce.
Culinary Hero… My father. He cooked his whole life in our family hotel.
Favorite Kitchen Utensil… Tongs. They provide a lot of control in the kitchen—handling food, sautéing, and cooking in pots and pans, et cetera.
Last Book Read… Ming’s Master Recipes by Chef Ming Tsai.
I Never Cook with… pork fat. While it has its uses, I prefer to use either clarified butter or olive oil. I love how both butter and olive oil enhance the flavors of foods, even pork dishes. 
I Hate It When I’m Dining at a Restaurant and… the waiter doesn’t provide the proper service, especially when the food comes out cold. You know it’s been sitting in the kitchen too long.
The Toughest or Craziest Part of My Job…The toughest part is standing all day long, while dealing with the pressure of a busy restaurant kitchen. The craziest part is nights that we are serving pre-theater diners. We are one block from the Paramount Center for the Arts. Everyone comes in at the same time and wants to leave at the same time. We’re often serving a hundred dinners at once.
Favorite Late-Night Snack… Granola bars
Food Trend I Hate the Most… When a restaurant says it uses “all fresh ingredients.” I would expect that to be a given.
Chefs Tend to Use Too Much… butter, instead of relying on spices.
Most Famous Person I Ever Cooked For… I was once the personal chef to Leona Helmsley. She loved my pork crown with honey, jalapeños, and fresh apple-cider sauce.

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