While we love showing you delicious food 24/7, we also think it's important that you know who is behind the food you're eating. So, our "Twelve Days of Chef-mas" series will introduce you to a dozen noteworthy chefs from across the state. That being said:
🎶 On the second day of "Chef-mas," CT Eats Out brings to you.... Chefs Craig Hutchinson and Alex Lishchynsky of the [oink] pop-up series 🎶
How You Got Started In The Kitchen:
Craig: I realized the best part of my day after working in sales was cooking for myself at home. People say to never make your hobby a job, but I felt it was more than that and it has become my number one passion. It wasn't an easy conversation to tell my parents I was going to wash dishes after graduating from Brown... sorry guys!
Alex: It's hard to think of a time that I wasn't in the kitchen. I pretty much grew up in a kitchen with a spoon in my mouth my whole life. My mom went to culinary school when I was a kid, and I looked up to her, so it was always in the back of my mind that I would grow up to be a chef. I started cooking with her at an early age and I remember her having me crush garlic in a wooden bowl for salad and chiffonade basil for tomato salad. Slowly she showed me the basics, but more importantly she taught me how to love food, and how it always brought our family together on Sunday for dinner. Eventually my mom and stepdad, Scott, also a chef, helped me get a job in the kitchen at the Country Club of North Carolina. I worked there for two years learning everything from what a hotel pan is to making salad dressings. When I was 18 I moved to Boston with my brother Mike. And yes, he's a chef too. In Boston I got a job at Radius, and that really opened my mind to food. Once that happened it was all history, I saw my dream and I was going to do anything for it.
Favorite Ingredient To Work With:
Craig: Pork... to quote Homer Simpson, "Right Lisa, some wonderful, magical animal!". As for vegetables - right now I'm really into Japanese Sweet Potato.... cooked in pork fat.
Alex: Fresh fennel seeds. They're really hard to find, I've only worked with them a few times. They are really sweet, and have a great anise flavor.
Favorite Menu Item:
Craig: My real answer is smoked broccoli with pig head, sun dried tomatoes, chia seed crackers and crispy pork skin. My answer that the public will like is dry aged meatball with house made spaghetti, marinara, and aged gouda; I could eat that dish for the rest of my life.
Alex: The raw beef & matsutake with juniper, cherry bomb yolk, bread and anchovy dish we did at our River Tavern pop-up dinner.
Funniest Kitchen Story:
Craig: Well, it didn't happen in the kitchen... but I definitely broke Alex's tooth with a bowling ball. In the kitchen, my food runner named Jenny told us her dad's name was Forrest (seriously), so my pasta cook ran over and screamed, "YOU GOTTA DADDY NAMED FORREST TOO!?"
Alex: It was about 12:30am, at the end of service at Il Buco Alimentari in NYC, and I was singing Teenage Dreams by Katy Perry while dancing and cooking the last dish of the night. In the middle of that I slipped, busted my ass on the ground and the food flew into the air and landed all over me. Luckily it wasn't hot!
Favorite Holiday Dish To Eat or Cook:
Craig: Christmas dinner - it's the one holiday where my sister, mom and dad get to sit down, eat, drink and laugh. I always start with a roasted chestnut soup with cured duck and cranberry jam.
Alex: Easy. Thanksgiving......Grandma's stuffing. And no, you cant know what's in it.
Restaurant in CT You're Dying To Try:
Craig: Dinner at Oyster Club or Community Table. I also need to check out Elm Restaurant after I had a great tasting menu cooked by Luke Venner at an event.
Alex: Dinner at Oyster Club, River Tavern and Community Table