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Executive Chef Sam DeMarco

First Food & Bar

    Dining with Chefs: Executive Chef Sam DeMarco
First Food & Bar

Because it was obvious that Chef DeMarco was excited about opening FIRST, we asked him how the whole thing came about. “Tommy [Nally from VV Ventures] contacted me and said, ‘If you want to come, we have this casual fun restaurant that you’d be perfect for,” he explained. “The stars lined up; I looked at the space and it was perfect. I feel very comfortable with the team; I have a great team here. This is a perfect match and we had history. We knew each other and have eaten at each other’s restaurants. Stephen Billings, my partner from the original FIRST, is my general manager here. We have a lot of history. All around me are a lot of people who have been part of my life, so I have the best team out here. They are all excited all have been at FIRST and helped develop it initially. It’s all about the team. I think later in life you realize that it’s the whole team around you that makes you successful. We share a vision, goals and have a standard that we’re looking to achieve. There are four team members here from New York and all of them have been my team partners for between 10 and 20 years. That’s pretty great. History helps you find your strike zone -- where you hit the ball the best -- and here they are, trying to put the ball over the plate for me. We’re hoping for a good hit here.”

Having imbibed so much history about the restaurant, we couldn’t wait for our tour. Although there was a hard-hat tour of the restaurant prior to our arrival, we were able to participate in a second tour that was even more special because it was private!

“We can see and feel the restaurant now,” Chef DeMarco said. “The room has a lot of flavor. There are nods to industrial things. If you remember the old ball that was in the middle of FIRST, this is the new version of that ball. There will be enough clever little things laced in for people to say, ‘Wow, I remember this.’ In every aspect of life, it always seems better when you look back at it; you never realize when you’re in it! Nostalgic stuff is really fun and it actually makes you measure time. I’m trying to capture things in history from when I had good times and pull them together here.”

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