TravelsinTaste.com recently had the opportunity to chat with Executive Chef George Mendes of Aldea in New York's Flatiron neighborhood. An alumnus of some of the world's best kitchens -- including New York's Bouley, France's La Bastide de Moustiers (Ducasse) and Spain's Berasategui -- Mendes prepares a seasonal menu that is compact but varied, and Mom always said good things come in small packages. A first-generation American born to Portuguese parents, he has worked alongside some of the world's best chefs, including David Bouley, Alain Passard, Alain Ducasse, Sandro Gamba, Roger Verge and Martin Berasategui. During a staging in San Sebastian, Spain, Basque chef Martin Berasategui introduced him to the avant-garde movement. After that, his cuisine took off. When it did, Chef Mendes returned to New York and spent four years as chef de cuisine at Tocqueville, after which he left to create his own restaurant, Aldea. Here, he showcases his unique talents -- including his use of spherification, a process that uses sodium alginate and calcium chloride to gel and contain liquids -- while paying homage to the avante-garde movement of which he's so fond.