Chef Spotlight: Vincenzo Garofalo of SENSO UNICO in Sunnyside, Queens NY
Chef/Owner Vincenzo Garofalo is an under-the-radar culinary force from Avellino, Italy, who has cooked for numerous celebrities throughout his career including Andrea Bocelli, high profile political dignitaries and the late legendary Chef Gualtiero Marchesi. He began mastering the artistry of cooking in his homeland of Italy, honing his skills at Michelin-starred Antica Osteria Nonna Rosa and Il Pellicano. Upon arriving in the U.S. with Laura, Chef Garofalo went on to further develop his talents with the Maccione family at Sirio Ristorante in The Pierre Hotel and Le Cirque. As a creative visionary, he personally selects ingredients locally and makes everything in-house including the pasta and the sauces, using rice flour and panko, making the menu gluten-free friendly. His dishes are inspired by his mother and grandmother's classic Italian recipes prepared with surgical precision and transports guests to Italy for an authentic culinary experience.
Broadwayworld.com had the pleasure of interviewing Chef Vincenzo Garofalo about his career and Senso Unico.
What was your earliest interest in cooking?
I grew up in Italy in my grandfather's bakery. That's where I learned the art of making bread, cookies, and pizza. My mother isn't the best cook so I learned a lot from my grandmother. She taught me how to make fresh pastas, sauces, olive oil, wine, and pickled vegetables. As I got older, I started to experiment in the kitchen on my own.
Who were some of your career mentors?
My very first mentors were my grandparents. During my journey in the professional kitchen I met many talented chefs. The first chef I worked with in New York was Chef Massimo Bebber, he taught me a lot about running a kitchen.
What culinary styles have influenced your career?
There are three styles that influence my career; classic Italian, French, and Japanese.
What do you consider the most distinguishing features of your work as a chef?
In my kitchen I always play with different ingredients. The beauty of New York is we have access to products from all over the world. I like to play on classical recipes, for example my Beer Tiramisu
What is your favorite meal or meals?
One of my favorites is sushi, I love raw fish. However, I can't live without pasta and bread.
Tell me a little bit about your restaurant for our readers.
Senso Unico is family owned neighborhood restaurant, in Sunnyside, Queens. We offer traditional and modern preparations of Southern Italian specialties.
Senso Unico is located in Queens at 4304 47th Ave, Sunnyside, NY 11104. Visit their web site at http://www.sensounicorestaurant.com/ or call 347.662.6101.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Vincenzo Garofalo