STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Peter Botros has been selected to cook at James Beard House in Manhattan at a February dinner, a great honor in the professional food world. He is among the very few Staten Islanders invited over the years to present in the famed kitchen.
Botros says he was vetted by representatives of the Beard Foundation who sampled his cooking.
The decadent menu just in time for Mardis Gras
Combining sweet and savory elements with chocolate, the menu will start with three canapes, one of the roasted beets, dark chocolate-whipped goat cheese, and a cocoa powder dusting. Additionally, Botros will present Crispy Black Truffle Polenta with shaved white chocolate and Locatelli cheese plus Sriracha Duck Spring Rolls with tangerine and chocolate drizzles.
Shoestring Curley fries dusted in cocoa served over Cocoa Puff gelato, hot fudge and chocolate whipped cream. (Courtesy of the Stone House at Clove Lakes)
After the cocktail hour, guests can expect miniature cocoa croissants with chocolate-whipped butter before four courses come to the table. Burrata leads the food procession with dark chocolate-balsamic reduction, ancho chili oil, macadamia nuts, and toasted granola. The second course includes “Chocolate Ricotta Ravioli” with spicy Italian sausage and Parmesan cream. Next up are seared day boat scallops with chocolate-chestnut cream, potato crisps, and cocoa nibs.
The fourth course will focus on filet mignon, rubbed in espresso and presented with white chocolate-whipped potatoes plus chocolate-port wine demi-glace.
For dessert, there will be a “Banana Chocolate Empanada” offered with “Mexican Hot Chocolate Gelato” and “Horchata Creme Anglaise.”
The restaurant’s moniker, Violette’s, is a nod to Peter’s mother, the late Violette Botros, who succumbed to cancer. A percentage of the venture’s proceeds goes toward the soon-coming Comprehensive Cancer Center at Staten Island University Hospital, Seaview, an amount pledged at $250,000 over the next seven years.
Botros’ next restaurant project will be a barbecue eatery. Negotiations are in the works and, if all goes well, the new place will take root mid-Island within the next year.
Botros cooks for not-for-profits around the Island. This is Stone House’s ravioli entry for the 2017 Community Resources Pasta Bowl, Travis, which came stuffed with a meatball and topped with creamy ricotta cheese plus fried basil.
But the Beard House is a huge honor for Botros.
Botros will be one of only a handful of Staten Islanders who have cooked and presented for guests of the Beard Foundation.
In 1995, Chef Martin Mendoza of the former Biscotti restaurant, New Dorp, was the first Staten Island chef to be the main performer at the Greenwich Village townhouse. He orchestrated his menu with Italian food expert Anna Teresa Callan, who oversaw Italian food events at the house back then. Mendoza’s Staten Island counterpart at the dinner included Lisa Simon, co-owner of Biscotti.
Biscotti co-owner Fran Simon told the Advance at that time: “While the menu in our restaurant has some influences from Asia and Mediterranean countries in general, we concentrate on Italian.”
Mendoza’s Beard House feast saw items such as mushroom risotto cakes, polenta tartlets topped with portobello mushroom salsa and oven-roasted tomato, crostini topped with roasted peppers, arugula, sun-dried tomatoes, and mascarpone cheese, and miniature pastries filled with three sauces — eggplant, sweet pepper, and lobster mousse.
Carol Frazzetta with Bobby Flay (Staten Island Advance File Photo)
In October 2003, Carol Frazzetta of the former Carol’s Cuisine and Cooking School in Dongan Hills cooked at the Beard House.
She told the Advance’s Jane Milza at the time: “I learned to be eclectic in my style… “Getting all of the logistics in place is the most difficult part of the planning.”
The menu consisted of five appetizers, a salad, pasta course, two entrees, and an assortment of homemade desserts. Some items, according to the Advance, included, “Maple-Roasted Stuffed Bacon Rolls, followed by Spicy Italian Sausage-Stuffed Mushrooms, the chef’s prized Miniature Lump Crabcakes with a Sherry Wine Sauce, Sicilian Pizza with Caramelized Onions and Barbecued Duck with Ginger and Sesame Seeds.”
And those were just the starters.
Ms. Frazzetta added the Beard honor to her already impressive resume that includes work at La Varenne, the Cordon Bleu, and the Culinary Institute of America. She is retired after closing her restaurant and cooking school at the end of 2016.
Bill Lyons – Other Staten Islanders honored by the James Beard House
Rick Laakkonen, celebrated by the James Beard Foundation in the early 2000s, did a tour at the former Pasticceria Bruno, now called Bruno’s NYC Bakery and Restaurant, in Dongan Hills. The Finnish-born Culinary Institute of America grad worked over the years at l’Ecole Le Nôtre in France, Alain Ducasse’s Le Louis XV in Monte Carlo, and eventually in Manhattan’s Petrossian and Luxe. He also owned Ilo in the Bryant Park Hotel, where he earned enormous accolades.
In 2002, Patricia Reardon Radicevic, a Staten Islander from New Brighton who married restaurant owner Branco Radicevic, was bestowed with the “America’s Classic” Restaurant Award from the James Beard Foundation for the family’s eatery Three Brothers Serbian Restaurant in Milwaukee, Wisc.
Jacques Pepin with Jane Milza in 2006 (Staten Island Advance File Photo) Retired food editor Jane Milza