Chef Spotlight: Chef Sampogna of FREVO in Greenwich Village
Born in Brazil, Chef Sampogna first discovered his passion for food when he arrived in the South of France 11 years ago. Post-graduation and barely 20 years old, Sampogna's culinary star was already beginning to rise on the French Riviera. He was invited to work at Chef Fabrice Vulin's La Chèvre d'Or ("the Golden Goat"), a widely respected two-Michelin star restaurant located in the charming hilltop village of Eze.
Soon thereafter, Sampogna accepted a coveted position at Chef Guy Savoy's eponymous three-Michelin star restaurant in Paris (2011). From there, he jumped to the Dorchester Collection's Hôtel Plaza Athénée, where he joined Chef Alain Ducasse at his three-Michelin star restaurant on Avenue Montaigne.
Sampogna was part of Ducasse's team both before and after the Hôtel Plaza Athénée closed for renovations in 2013. When the hotel re-opened in 2014, he aided Ducasse in rebooting the restaurant's concept and menu, emphasizing local ingredients and fresh produce.a??In 2015, Chef Sampogna won second place in the San Pellegrino Young Chef Challenge at just 24 years of age; he was entered into the competition alongside nine other French chefs, out of some 3,621 candidates who applied.
In 2016, Sampogna made the brave choice to depart from France in order to expand his culinary horizons. He took up a role as a chef aboard a private yacht, traveling to countries including the United States, Europe, and Caribbean, from which he drew fresh culinary inspiration. Later that same year, Sampogna relocated to New York to launch Jema, a Newsday 3.5-star award winning restaurant in Huntington, Long Island. Jema marked Sampogna's first opportunity to run his own kitchen and culinary team. The restaurant won multiple honors, including four stars from Long Island Pulse Magazine; and recognition from the legendary James Beard House, which invited the Chef to host his own special event.a??After this successful run, Sampogna settled in Manhattan where he has opened his first venture in ownership, FREVO, where he serves both as Chef and co-owner.
Broadwayworld.com had the pleasure of interviewing Chef Sampogna about his career and FREVO for our "Chef Spotlight."
What was your earliest interest in cooking?
My earliest interest in cooking began when I moved to France at age 17. There is a very strong food culture there and I instantly fell in love with it.
Who were some of your career mentors?
My career mentors were the chefs I have had the pleasure of working with in the past, including the likes of Fabrice Vulin, Guy Savoy and Alain Ducasse at the Hotel Plaza Athénée in Paris. My cooking has a strong influence from them.
What culinary styles have influenced your career?
French, Japanese, and now increasingly Brazilian products and cuisines have influenced my career. They're also products that are increasingly present and featured in what Frevo offers now.
What do you consider the most distinguishing features of your work as a chef?
There aren't a lot of Brazilians who are making French food, while also trying to incorporate Brazilian products in the process. I think this is quite a distinguishing feature and we are managing to produce quite an elegant result.
What is your favorite meal?
I think it would be White Truffle Risotto.
Tell me a little bit about your restaurant for our readers.
Frevo is a contemporary restaurant serving French cuisine, hidden behind an art gallery in Greenwich Village serving only 18 guests at the time. The restaurant is set up on an intimate counter where guests can have a dining experience overlooking our work.
We serve a unique five-course menu focused on the quality of our ingredients with an emphasis on simplicity and seasonality. As a result, the tasting menu also changes seasonally.
The first thing you see at Frevo is the paintings. These paintings are made exclusively by French artist, Toma L., with whom we have a very close relationship with.
FREVO is located at 48 West 8th Street, New York NY 10011. For more information and menus, please visit http://frevonyc.com/ or call 646.455.0804.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Chef Sampogna