Occupation: Chef, Forepaugh’s (276 S. Exchange St., St. Paul; 651-224-5606,
How did you wind up in the restaurant business? I grew up on a lot of different
foods. I have British and Mexican grandmothers, and my step-dad’s mom is Puerto
Rican. They taught me how to cook. I’ve worked in several kitchens, including Lulu in
San Francisco; French Laundry in Napa Valley, Calif.; and Waldorf Astoria in New York.
My wife is from here, so we moved to Minnesota a few years ago to raise our children. I
was opening sous chef at Tria in North Oaks and, most recently, Chambers Kitchen in
What’s the dish you are most proud of? The lamb three ways – shank, loin and
housemade sausage on top of spinach and polenta.
What’s the dish you hate to cook? I really don’t hate to cook anything. I’ll take
anything and make it fun.
Any “off the menu” dishes we should know about? We just opened in July (under
new ownership) and are focusing on the menu and doing that well. Every once in a
while, I’ll run a special.
What’s the weirdest food you’ve ever eaten? When I was cooking at Waldorf
Astoria in New York, we cooked fried tarantula for the Explorers Club. I killed 500
tarantulas that day, so I just had to try it. I didn’t like it. When I was at the French
Laundry, I tried the pancreas from a monkfish. I didn’t like that, either.
What would you want your last meal to be? Three things from the cultures I grew
up around – Mexican chile verde, Puerto Rican rice and Belgian beer.
What’s next on the horizon? To just keep doing what I’m doing. Things are going
really well here. The next step is to make more of our own products. We’re already
house-curing meats, including pastrami and sausage. Now, we’re looking at possibly
making our own bread.
– Nancy Ngo