Chef Armando Monterroso

by Mari on July 30, 2014

 

Armando Monterroso is the executive chef of one of the most famous hotels in the world, the New York Marriott Marquis. His first taste of the New York restaurant experience began over 10 years ago, when he worked under top New York City chefs, including Laurent Gras, Marcus Samuelsson, and Rocco DiSpirito.

What made you want to be a chef?
It’s funny, I always thought of being a ‘cook,’ I don’t think I ever thought of being a chef. I really just enjoyed the idea of cooking for pleasure and giving that same satisfaction to other people. There was always something very exciting for me about cooking and having everyone enjoy it. As my time as a cook grew, the idea of becoming a chef became more interesting to me. Now that I’m a chef, it is a bit different. I also get to design menus and do different things to create a great experience.

Do you have a mentor or a chef who particularly inspired you?
I was somebody who jumped around a little bit. I was very fortunate to work with some great chefs, but I wouldn’t say that there was one in particular since I learned a lot from each one. I also think we learn a lot from our cooks. It’s very interesting to watch the people who do the same task over and over again, because they always find creative ways to do their job.

What is the most important aspect of cooking to you?
For me it’s the basics- perfect execution, great well-seasoned ingredients, and finding the right dish for the right moment. You can easily become a chef that goes through the motions, but if you truly love what you do, you’re continually looking to inspire and reinvent. To create an experience and to really find that right dish, you need an understanding of who you’re cooking for and why you’re cooking. I always say it’s like music- finding the right song for the right moment, finding the right dish for that right occasion.

What do you think of the importance of having cooking experience in foreign countries?
Being in foreign countries is important, but I think it’s more about the exposure. We are very fortunate because we live in the United States. You can work with great Japanese chefs, French chefs, and American chefs all in one city. I was fortunate enough to work with a French chef, an American chef, and Marcus Samuelsson who has a Swedish Ethiopian background, all who taught very different techniques. I also think it’s important to leave the country because you’re exposed to different things- products that you will never see here. You are also exposed to other people, styles, and techniques. I think being a good chef today is about managing people. We are very lucky because we have a lot different ethnicities in our kitchen, but to be successful you need to understand how to manage different types of people.

What do you think of the Japanese food and knives?
Japanese food brings together a whole lot of different elements. If you think of things like umami and how it works, you see that the Japanese bring out different elements in food. As much as there are a lot of big flavors, there is a lot of restraint and subtlety in the food, which a lot of people can learn from. It’s not just about these big flavors, there are a lot of beautiful subtleties in Japanese cuisine.

Japanese knives for me, they’re just great knives. There is phenomenal craftsmanship- a strong cultural and traditional background. Assuming you know how to maintain them, they are the best knives you can buy by far. But they are only as good as the time you dedicate to them. If you want something easy and simple, it might not be for you. As much passion and care someone took to make it, is what you have to do to maintain and manage it. If you are committed to the process, you will understand why we enjoy them so much.

One of the things that Japanese culture and knives bring that others do not is is specificity- there is a knife for every task. And a mistake that a lot of chefs make is not using the correct knife depending on the function of the task you are about to do.

What is your goal for your profession?
When I left high school, I was going to be an engineer, but I discovered that it didn’t motivate or excite me. So I started in the kitchen at the bottom, as I think most people should, and I continued to grow. I want to continue to put myself in areas that push me to grow. I want to be in in an environment where I am pushed and I can work with people to affect, teach, and learn from them. If you’re inspired and you do all of these things, the financial pieces will fall into place.

What is your advice for aspiring chefs?
Learn the basics. They are so often overlooked. We interview chefs all of the time and they are doing foam and they are doing all of these neat things with their tweezers, which I think is fantastic… but you still need to serve hot food hot and cold food cold. All of that work and how beautiful the dish is means nothing to me if it is served cold. If you do the basic things perfectly, then you can start to add technique and elements to your cuisine.

As an aspiring chef it is also important to be very disciplined. You have to be the example. Everybody is watching how you work, how organized you are, and how meticulous you are being.

What is your philosophy towards hospitality?
It is about giving great service and anticipating people’s needs. So many times we are so self-consumed, I think it’s about really looking at what is happening and understanding what our customers are looking for. We are a hospitality industry. At the end of the day we want to create concepts and dishes that people want. It is not necessarily what I want to cook. But, if there is a dish that I want to make and no one wants to eat it, then there is a gap and no hospitality aspect. It’s about the whole experience and the basic hospitality concept that so many people to forget, but we want to strive for everyday.

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Staff #FavKnife Feature – KORIN x MASAMOTO COLLABORATION KNIVES. The red kanji stamp on the blade of the knife, kizuna, is the Japanese word for ‘bond’ or ‘connection’. The Kizuna represents the bond between the knife craftsmen and the chefs who use these knives. We hope that you feel this kizuna when you use these truly special knives from Masamoto, forged from Shiro-ichi, the purest form of carbon and one of the most difficult types of steel to work with. To ensure perfection, each blade is hand inspected, checked and sharpened by Japan’s number one Grand Master Sharpener, Shozo Mizuyama.

MAKE IT YOURS:
http://korin.com/Knives/Kizuna-Knives_4

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Staff #FavKnife Feature – TOGIHARU 440 PRO. Mr. Mizuyama, Korin and Misono has decided to develop a new knife with the brand-new method that Misono has never tried. Misono created the Togiharu 440, which is sharper, easy to sharpen, and also slides through ingredients with ease. The material used is similar to the Misono 440, the edge retention of the Togiharu PRO is between the Misono 440 and the UX10, due to how the the Togiharu PRO is hand finished using a better steel than the Misono 440. We could not have been more honored to coproduce the Togiharu PRO with one of the most distinguished knife company, Misono.

MAKE IT YOURS:
http://korin.com/Knives/Togiharu-Pro 

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Chef Carlo Mirarchi

July 23, 2014

Carlo Mirarchi is the co-owner and executive chef of Blanca and Roberta’s in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Mirarchi is a self-taught chef and his culinary prowess has won the acclaim of publications including New York Times and Bon Appétit, as well as earning him a Michelin Star and a place as one of Food & Wine’s Best [...]

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Staff #FavKnife Feature – SUISIN WA SUJIHIKI (SLICER)

July 21, 2014

Staff #FavKnife Feature – SUISIN WA SUJIHIKI (SLICER). If you mostly cut delicate ingredients and precision is of utmost importance, this knife is a must have. The blade is as close to a single-edge blade without being a Traditional Japanese knife, it is much sharper than your average Western style knife. The Suisin Wa-Series is [...]

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PLATING WITH KORIN

July 18, 2014

Ariake Green Square Plate Ariake Green Square Sauce Dish Flag / Gun Shaped Bamboo Skewers (Teppo Gushi) Courtesy of Bâoli Miami - Asian Cuisine Tessa Black Serving Plate Courtesy of Bâoli Miami - Asian Cuisine Light Gray Soy Sauce Pot Tessa Black Soy Sauce Pot Ariake Green Square Sauce Dish Courtesy of Bâoli Miami -  Asian Cuisine Green Rectangular Plate (PLL-926) - Special Import [...]

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Annie likes the Nenohi Mizu-Honyaki Round Takobiki with Ebony Handle

July 18, 2014

Friday Staff Pick Day – Annie likes the Nenohi Mizu-Honyaki Round Takobiki with Ebony Handle. “The Nenohi Mizu-Honyaki Round Takobiki looks like a sword. With it’s beautiful smooth, long and thin ebony handle, a perfect match with it’s long and sharp edge!” MAKE IT YOURS: http://korin.com/Nenohi-Mizu-Honyaki-Round-Takobiki-Ebon

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“Inventory Count”

July 17, 2014

Show us your #favknife collection! Re-sharing photo from Chef Chris “Inventory Count”.

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Staff #FavKnife Feature – TOGIHARU HAMMERED DAMASCUS SANTOKU

July 16, 2014

Staff #FavKnife Feature – TOGIHARU HAMMERED DAMASCUS SANTOKU, great brand with great quality at an affordable price. The santoku style is a great knife for those with smaller kitchen space. The Togiharu Hammered Texture Damascus Santoku is made out of layered and hammered steel, which makes it an attractive gift and works for the left [...]

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Have you checkout our new glassware collection?

July 15, 2014

Have you checkout our new glassware collection? Our crystal glasses are light and elegant, but don’t be fooled by appearances! They are lead-free, dishwasher safe, break-resistant, scratch resistant and shatter-proof. Make them yours and see them for yourself! See demonstration video here: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10152552030584304  

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