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Home > NOTEWORTHY DINING > New York City Noteworthy Dining > Fireside > Conversations with Chefs
Sam DeMarco
NOTE: SAM DEMARCO IS NOW EXECUTIVE CHEF AT FIRST FOOD & BAR IN LAS VEGAS. CLICK HERE FOR OUR LATEST DISCUSSION WITH HIM ON THE MAKING OF FIRST.
TravelsinTaste.com recently enjoyed a fabulous meal at Fireside in New York City, where Executive Chef Sam DeMarco told us about his background, the ideas behind his menu and all of the hidden secrets that make Fireside so special. Plus, we learned how he became the fabulous chef he is. To learn about Chef DeMarco's surprising path to culinary success, read on for our exclusive interview with him. Or, click here to read about our meal with him, or here to read more about Fireside. Both of which will be coming soon, stay tuned. In the mean time here is a recipe to try at home, Frozen Grand Marnier Souffle.

    
   
Our conversation with Chef DeMarco started when we asked him how he knew that he was going to become a chef. "When Ms. Greene [DeMarco's home economics teacher in high school] took the time to take me to the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in upstate New York," he told us straightforwardly. "She told me that she had no idea why I played around so much when I had so much talent." We're glad that Ms. Greene took such an interest, because soon after his visit to the CIA, Chef DeMarco filled out an application to enroll there. The result: Today we can enjoy his great cuisine.

After his schooling at the CIA, Chef DeMarco apprenticed under such notable chefs as Gray Kunz and David Burke, both of whom have restaurants -- Cafe Gray, DavidBurke and Donatella, and David Burke in Las Vegas -- that are featured on TravelsinTaste.com. He gained a great deal of culinary knowledge from those masters, but has since gained his own insights and created his own specialties building upon the techniques that they taught him. "I think that [apprenticeships] are very important," Chef DeMarco said. "The biggest misinterpretation is that once you graduate from culinary school, you will be a chef when you're done." Instead, most chefs must continue learning for some time in other people's restaurants -- just like he did.

Despite the importance of apprenticeships, Chef DeMarco continued, culinary schools have plenty to offer young chefs in the way of formal training. "I think that they are great in offering a starting foundation in the industry," he said. "I think that the better the school, the more you learn. However, you must apply yourself."

   
     
    
Lucky for his customers, Chef DeMarco has taken his own advice, applying himself time and again over the years in pursuit of delicious culinary achievements. Perhaps the greatest of those has been his unique American style, which he describes as "nostalgic" thanks to its diversity. "It's what I am," he told us. "American cultural cuisine is the melting pot of different ethnic cultures and influences."

Chef DeMarco's first restaurant -- aptly named First -- was located in New York's East Village; as its name implies, it was a stepping stone to future success. For Chef DeMarco, that future has meant bigger and better things. For his industry, though, he argues that it means a return to its roots. "The [next big trend in cuisines] would be restaurants evolving back to Mom and Pop establishments," he said, "and driving away from the corporate setting. Why? Because that is the way it should be."

   
     
      
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