Hotel Roanoke names new chef
The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center today announced the hiring of a new executive chef, Stephen DeMarco.
DeMarco replaces former executive chef Billie Raper, who left last year to take a position in Florida.
According to a press release from the hotel, DeMarco has 28 years of experience in culinary arts, including 10 years in New York.
DeMarco said in the release that he is an advocate for local businesses and purveyors and wants to use local products as often as possible. He comes to Roanoke in search of a slower pace of life for himself, his wife and their twin girls.
The hotel sent along a lengthy Q&A with DeMarco, with lots of information about his career and some interesting personal thoughts. I especially like the “last supper” question. I’ll share it here:
Q: Where did you grow up?
Chef: I was born in Toronto, Ontario Canada. I was raised and grew up in Sparta, New Jersey and Clearwater Florida.
Q: When did you know you wanted to be a chef?
Chef: I have always been in the kitchen since I was a kid and a professional kitchen since the age of 14. It really wasn?t until I was around 22 or 23 when I really thought I could make a living at doing what I loved to do. It was actually a chef/owner that I worked with that told me that I should get a formal culinary education at his alma mater ? Johnson & Wales in Providence, Rhode Island.
Q: What is your favorite food/culinary memory?
Chef: It would have to be working at the James Beard House in NYC side by side with Alain Ducasse, Jean Georges, Marcus Samuelsson, Daniel Boulud and more.
Q: Where were you trained and how difficult was your training?
Chef: The most influential training was my time spent at The Hilton Short Hills under the guidance of Chef Luis Spost. This was a real kitchen with several outlets, 5 diamond property. He was and still is a great leader, teacher and disciplinarian. My first day on the job I cleaned 15 cases of Spinach, 20 cases of mushrooms and 50 tenderloins. I think it was a test of my patience and my attitude. I just put my head down, did it and kept my mouth shut. It is never difficult if you love what you do.
Q: Where do you find your inspiration?
Chef: Tough question ? my grandmother and mother were my first inspirations ? I would see them just grab leftovers out of the fridge and throw a meal together and have it taste and look great. My first chef inspiration was Alfred Portale of Gotham Bar and Grill in Manhattan. My inspiration now are my fellow team mates and their energy level and seeing them be as eager as I was at their age. Being a little longer in the tooth, I have to be inspired to keep up with them, mentor them, teach and just talk food.
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