NY Sun: From Dishwasher to Pasta Expert

2833_largeA Voce Restaurant serves about 100 pounds of fresh pasta each week. But as with most Italian restaurants in New York City, the penne, spaghetti, and ravioli are not made by Italian grandmothers or celebrity chefs. They are made by a little-known force of dishwashers and porters turned pastamasters.

At A Voce, the much-lauded pasta is made in-house by Jose Guermos, a prep cook who has become an expert in handmade pasta under the watchful eye of chef Andrew Carmellini. "There are prepguy dynasties in the city," Mr. Carmellini said, while sipping an espresso on the terrace of A Voce. He recalled the Vargas dynasty in the 1980s and '90s, when 10 family members worked at Lespinasse, Le Cirque, and Aureole. "Chefs keep them a secret, because you don't want someone to find out about them and steal them."

In 1999, Mr. Guermos was dishwasher at Café Boulud, where Mr. Carmellini was chef de cuisine. Pasta became increasingly popular on the menu, and Mr. Carmellini asked if Mr. Guermos wanted to learn to make it. "I had no cooking experience before," Mr. Guermos said. "But I said ‘I'll try.'"

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The New York Sun: Archives

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Jennifer Leuzzi Archive at NY Sun 

Introducing the African Brasserie
February 6, 2008, Food and Drink section

Chefs' Christmas Menus
December 19, 2007, Food and Drink section

Chefs' Last Suppers
October 31, 2007, Food and Drink section

Where Food Is on the Marquee
September 19, 2007, Food and Drink section

Cordial Invitations
September 5, 2007, Food and Drink section

A Steak in the Family Business
August 22, 2007, Food and Drink section

When Mercury Is on the Menu
July 25, 2007, Food and Drink section

From Dishwasher to Pasta Expert
June 13, 2007, Food and Drink section

TV Dinners
June 6, 2007, Food and Drink section

A Bubbly Treat
May 30, 2007, Food and Drink section

Best in Chow
April 25, 2007, Food and Drink section

Central Park's New Chef
March 28, 2007, Food and Drink section

Pastry Chefs Prepare for the Main Course
February 14, 2007, Food and Drink section

The Taste Of the West
January 17, 2007, Food and Drink section

Restaurant Openings For 2007
January 10, 2007, Food and Drink section

The Year in Eats
December 27, 2006, Food and Drink section

Gordon Ramsay Lands in New York
November 15, 2006, Food and Drink section

November Restaurant Openings
November 1, 2006, Food and Drink section

A Well-Timed Spa Vacation Just Before Boarding
October 30, 2006, Travel section

Michelin Makes Its List
October 25, 2006, Food and Drink section

Chefs, Exhale: Zagat Makes Its Appearance Today (But the Michelin Guide Looms)
October 11, 2006, Food and Drink section

New York's King of Hospitality
October 4, 2006, Arts+ section

October Restaurant Openings
October 4, 2006, Food and Drink section

The City's Next Flavors
September 20, 2006, Food and Drink section

Opening in September
September 20, 2006, Food and Drink section

The City's Mecca for Epicureans
August 30, 2006, Food and Drink section

When Salt Dresses Up
August 23, 2006, Food and Drink section

A Top Chef Arrives in New York (Finally)
August 9, 2006, Food and Drink section

A 4-Star Farm
July 24, 2006, Travel section

A Taste of the Future (Maybe)
July 12, 2006, Food and Drink section

In Las Vegas, the Stars Are Out
June 28, 2006, Food and Drink section

The Pitmaster Parade
June 9, 2006, Food and Drink section

Le Cirque's Incarnation Is About To Be Tested
May 17, 2006, Food and Drink section

The New Chef in Town
May 10, 2006, Food and Drink section

Ian Schrager Finds 'an Antidote to Living in a Busy City'
May 4, 2006, Real Estate+ section

May 4, 2006, Real Estate+ section

A Feast For the Eyes
April 19, 2006, Arts+ section

King of the E.U.
April 5, 2006, Food and Drink section

Restaurant Forecast (Plus New Spring Drinks)
March 22, 2006, Food and Drink section

Crowds Swamp Trader Joe's as It Opens in City
March 20, 2006, New York section

Al Fresco at A Voce
March 1, 2006, Food and Drink section

The First Serving at Morimoto
January 25, 2006, Food and Drink section

Third Time's a Charm
January 4, 2006, Food and Drink section

Next Wave Italian
December 28, 2005, Food and Drink section


Epicurious: Coconut Cake Recipe

DownloadedFileCoconut Cake by Jennifer Leuzzi

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100%would make it again



95saved to recipe box


Yield: Makes 8 to 10 servings

This recipe's a family favorite from my Auntie Delores. It's actually a version of bibingka, a Pilipino dessert. I call it coconut cake, because I don't know how to translate "bibingka" into French, and Laurent and I mostly speak French. At home we simply cut it into squares. For a fancy restaurant-style presentation, you can cut it into various shapes using cookie cutters. If you want to cut out shapes, lining the cake pan with parchment paper will make it easier to unmold the cake. Packages of coconut are usually 14 ounces, but an ounce or two more or less won't make a difference.

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Epicurious: Roast Chicken Recipe


Roast Chicken by Jennifer Leuzzi

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95%would make
it again

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recipe box


Yield: Makes 2 to 4 servings

Now that I'm married to a chef (Laurent Gras), the inevitable question from friends is, "What do you cook for your husband when he's such a whiz in the kitchen?" Well, I always joke that I'm the Sunday sous-chef, as I'm the one making supper on the day of rest. Here's a roast chicken recipe of mine that seems to meet with his approval.

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