Best New Chef 2011: George Mendes
Best New Chef 2011: George Mendes

George Mendes

 Video Best New Chef George Mendes.  Video George Mendes describes what it means to be named a Best New Chef. Born 1972; Danbury, CT. Education The Culinary Institute of America; Hyde Park, NY. Experience Stonehenge Inn, Ridgefield, CT; Tropica, Bouley and Le Zoo, New York City; Lespinasse, Washington, DC; Wallse and Toqueville, New York City. Stages: L'Arpège, Paris; Roger Vergé's Moulin de Mougins, Mougins, France; El Bulli, Roses, Spain; Restaurante Martín Berasategui, Lasarte-Oria, Spain. How he got into food "My mom and dad were farmers in Portugal; they immigrated to the US in 1969. I had a childhood full of home-cooked meals: There was always salt cod soaking in the garage; I still remember that smell. On weekdays we'd have rice dishes. On Sundays we'd have more elaborate meals—roast turkey or pork. The holidays were the biggie; they were crazy, off the hook with food." Pet peeve Cooks who work over garbage cans. "It's so sloppy. And people who feel like they are too good to pick up a broom, they're nothing to me. A kitchen is like an operating room, it should be spotless. On top of that, Aldea is an open kitchen." What keeps him going Water and Gatorade. "I drink a lot of water; Gatorade is a big thirst quencher for me." Favorite piece of cooking equipment His Bonnet stove. "I bought it before I opened Aldea; it sat in storage. When I was still looking for restaurant spaces, I'd sit there and look at a picture of that stove." Memorable Meal A tie between a 1998 meal on the terrace at Le Louis XV, Alain Ducasse's restaurant in Monaco, and a 1994 dinner at the original Daniel on 76th Street in New York City. Fantasy splurge "I'd go to Tokyo in 2021. I think it would be impeccable sushi and really cutting-edge Japanese cuisine, taken to a new level." Favorite wine 1986 Louis Jadot Corton-Charlemagne white Burgundy. Dream restaurant "I'd push a sardine-filled wheelbarrow outfitted with a charcoal grill around Union Square. I'd wear an old man's beret. And I'd do it every day, not just when the farmers' market was on." Food trend he dislikes Burgers. "I love them, but enough already." Favorite cookbook La Riviera d'Alain Ducasse. "It sits on my shelf forever, it's the soul of the Mediterranean and it reminds me of my upbringing. Ducasse took the rusticity and authenticity and somehow refined it." Twitter dream "I wish Ferran Adrià were on Twitter."
Arroz de Galinha
Rating: Unrated
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As the child of Portuguese immigrants, 2011 Food & Wine Best New Chef George Mendes grew up eating all sorts of rice dishes at home. "There was simple tomato rice served with fried fish and then rabbit rice on special occasions and holidays," he says. This cozy chicken and rice recipe draws on those memories. In it, shredded rotisserie chicken, olives, sautéed onions and bell pepper, and crispy rendered soppressata are topped with cooked saffron rice and baked until the rice gets crispy on top to make a comforting dinner.
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NYC chef George Mendes of Aldea and Lupulo restaurants likes using nut milks to flavor all sorts of things, including this creamy and rich-tasting vinaigrette. Slideshow: More Salad Recipes 
New York chef George Mendes of Aldea and Lupulo marinates chicken cutlets in olive oil, smoky paprika and white wine, then quickly pan-fries them so they’re perfectly tender and juicy. Slideshow: More Chicken Breast Recipes 
At Bica, his daytime cafe and takeout window in New York City, chef George Mendes serves this Portuguese take on the classic egg and cheese sandwich. In place of breakfast sausage, he uses a smoky pork variety called Linguiça. If you can't find it, look for a smoky sausage like fresh chorizo. Slideshow: More Great Breakfast Recipes 
Whole Smoked Onions
Rating: Unrated
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Whole-smoking onions in your spent coals yields a silky, deep-golden interior. The smoky puree is incredibly versatile and can be folded into dips, smeared on steaks or whisked into vinaigrettes. Slideshow:  More Onion Recipes 
This is chef George Mendes’s version of the simple tomato salads common in the Algarve region of southern Portugal. For a shortcut, use best-quality, olive oil–packed canned tuna. Slideshow:  Tomato Recipes 
Instead of using salt cod, a classic Portuguese ingredient that takes days to soak, New York City chef George Mendes of Aldea quick-cures fresh cod by standing it in kosher salt for only 10 minutes. He says cod is naturally soft and flaky ("as well as bland," he adds), so salting gives it a firmer texture and a more pronounced flavor. Best New Chef 2011: George Mendes
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Smoky Chorizo Stuffing
Rating: Unrated
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Rather than traditional sausage stuffing, chef George Mendes of NYC's Aldea serves a smoky version using chorizo and hot pimentón de la Vera (smoked paprika). Slideshow: More Holiday Stuffings and Dressings Plus: Ultimate Thanksgiving Guide 
George Mendes's signature dish includes poached duck breast and homemade duck confit. Buy the confit instead, and forgo the breast. More Excellent Rice Dishes More Duck Recipes
Instead of using salt cod, a classic Portuguese ingredient that takes days to soak, New York City chef George Mendes of Aldea quick-cures fresh cod by standing it in kosher salt for only 10 minutes. He says cod is naturally soft and flaky ("as well as bland," he adds), so salting gives it a firmer texture and a more pronounced flavor. Best New Chef 2011: George Mendes
Smoky Chorizo Stuffing
Rating: Unrated
1
Rather than traditional sausage stuffing, chef George Mendes of NYC's Aldea serves a smoky version using chorizo and hot pimentón de la Vera (smoked paprika). Slideshow: More Holiday Stuffings and Dressings Plus: Ultimate Thanksgiving Guide 
George Mendes's signature dish includes poached duck breast and homemade duck confit. Buy the confit instead, and forgo the breast. More Excellent Rice Dishes More Duck Recipes
Garlic-and-Paprika Shrimp
Rating: Unrated
New!
George Mendes creates a rich sauce with shrimp heads, then thickens it with xanthan gum. The alternative here is flavored with shrimp shells and thickened with strained vegetables. More Delicious Shrimp Dishes
Braised Pork with Clams
Rating: Unrated
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George Mendes updates this classic Iberian combination by adding pickled vegetables. At Aldea, he makes his own pickles a day in advance; the version here calls for giardiniera, the jarred pickled-vegetable mix. More Braising Dishes
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Beet-and-Apple Salad
Rating: Unrated
New!
For his salad, George Mendes uses fresh horseradish and Gegenbauer cider vinegar, a rare Austrian import. This version calls for jarred horseradish and supermarket apple-cider vinegar. More Substantial Salads