Family Table with Danny Meyer and Carmen Quagliata: Foods Meets Family

Have you ever wondered what chefs eat when they are hungry? How do they have time to eat before or after a busy night in the kitchen of their famous restaurants? Pleasing each guest is an art form, so what’s left at the end of the night?

Danny Meyer was under 30 when he opened Union Square Café in New York City. He is joined by Carmen Quagliata, who is now the executive chef of Union Square Café today. The Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival brought the two legends together for a master class on genuine hospitality. They also talked about the ethos of what has driven them for years that always allows guests to feel like family.

Carmen and Danny shared with us their special “family table” traditions where they gather up their hard-working staff, scour the kitchen and throw something together for the whole crew to eat. Oftentimes, someone will bring in family recipe or two. The next thing you know, sacred inspiration for a new dish is born! The special menu is easily prepared with leftovers from even your own kitchen. They called it “Pork Roast Pasta” and it paired with Sandhi Wines and Wind Gap Wines.

They literally took some leftover pork roast, warmed it on the skillet and tossed with pasta and sauce. This adds a good mix of protein and carbs, but makes for a very quick and easy meal.

Danny reminded the class that peanuts are actually legumes so they will mix well with any other beans, “if it grows together, it goes together”, said Danny. Since peas and mint both grow the same way, they also go well together in a dish.

The banter between them was very entertaining and light-hearted. Danny gave Carmen a hard time when he accidentally grated his finger and called him “MacGyver of the kitchen”. A woman in the audience came forward with a bandaid and Carmen quipped “FEMA would be proud”. When they were searching for Romano cheese, Meyer cracked a joke about “the big cheese was MIA” as his longtime friend, Michael Romano, was preparing for another meal.

Food, fun and ….a family meal.


Photos: Patrick Tregenza

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