Stay-at-home mom to 8-year-old Isabel and an active local volunteer, Wendy Pregiato of Eastchester re-discovered the joys of cooking when her husband’s career took them to London and she wasn’t able to obtain a work visa.
First dish prepared: When she was 12, an egg-and-corn soufflé covered with cheddar cheese. When did she start cooking in earnest? Twelve years ago in London she had a lot of time on her hands. “I found some local cookbooks and decided to try to create these really complicated meals for my husband.” How’d she develop her skills? Classes in London including some at Vama, a well-known Indian restaurant, one on sushi with a Japanese cookbook author, and another on Middle-Eastern cuisine, plus a stay at a farm in Ireland where she learned to cook roasts. Signature flavors: Indian spices such as cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and fenugreek. Signature dish: Grilled Delmonico rib-eye steaks with a marinade including lots of rosemary, garlic, salt, onion, and Worcestershire. Most unusual dish: A cold corn-and-blueberry salad. “It’s an unexpected combination—flavored with diced jalapeño and honey and lots of fresh cilantro.” Most unusual ingredient: Rose water. “I make a Middle Eastern-inspired dessert with farro grain, cashews, and raisins that’s seasoned with honey and rose water.” Most flavorful dish: A Sicilian cauliflower dish that uses roasted cauliflower, garlic, capers, pine nuts, and raisins. Always in her fridge: Eggs—for their nutritional benefits, consistency, and ability to hold a dish together. Biggest cooking triumph: A perfect humongous prime-rib roast for Christmas plus six sides and three desserts. Biggest lesson learned from that triumph: Limit the amount of side dishes. “It is better to have three great things for people to eat than ten things that can overwhelm them.” Biggest cooking fiasco: An early crème brûlée “that tasted okay but had the consistency of scrambled eggs.”
Her cooking idol: Her mother. “She put wonderful meals together on a tight budget in a teeny kitchen.” Recommended local cooking class: Nancy Contessa’s classes through the Bronxville Adult School.
Local Shopping & Dining Guide
Favorite supermarket: Fairway Market in Pelham Manor. Favorite gourmet shop: Larchmont Meateria. “It’s a little family market with the best cheeses, some fabulous bakery items, beautiful breads, and many delicious prepared foods.” Most inspiring restaurant: Polpettina in Eastchester. “They are wizards in using locally sourced combinations of foods to create the most delicious dishes like thin and crispy eggplant slices with wildflower honey.”
For Pregiato’s recipe for sesame ginger salmon over lemon slices, visit westchestermagazine.com/webexclusives.
Our Chefs’ Top Tips for Newbie Cooks
“Be patient. It took many, many tries to get the perfect consistency on a crème brûlée, but I was determined to get it right.” Also, start with small goals such as making the most perfect and tasty baked potato. “You can learn a lot from that and then apply it to the next dish.”
Gina M. Larson-Stoller, Cortlandt Manor
Brian Murdock, Mohegan Lake
Elly Kelly, Tarrytown
Susan C. Beer, Bedford/Pound Ridge
Lisa Ocasio, Cortlandt Manor
Mike Zollner, Port Chester
Todd A. Stankiewicz, Tarrytown
Tips, Hints & Ideas