Tripveel sat down with Chef Mark Arnao of Astor Court at The St. Regis Hotel, New York.
Where did you grow up and/or where have you traveled to that has helped inspire and shape your cooking philosophy?
I grew up in South Philadelphia, working in local Italian restaurants as a kid. New York was the first place that inspired my cooking, followed by Hawaii—which added flair and flavor to my style. I have traveled throughout Italy, Prague, Budapest, Thailand and Egypt and my travels have taught me how to cook a wide range of dishes.
Tell our readers an interesting fact or two about yourself.
Having worked from a child in the kitchen, I did not formally attend culinary school and one of my favorite experiences so far has been diving with sharks. I was in a cage but it was still an incredible experience.
Tell us about your absolute favorite food and why readers should try it if they haven’t already.
I highly recommend Dick’s Lechon’s food truck in Waipahu. They serve the best lunch plate with pork belly.
What are three ingredients that you simply couldn’t live without?
Bacon, garlic and kabayaki sauce.
We love the art behind plating. What do you love about designing the perfect dish?
There is an incredible thorough process behind each dish. Each time you look at a dish there is another tweak that you can do, not only to improve the beauty of the dish, but also in the accessibility of the food for the guest. You need to think about how they will eat it, ensuring for example that their sleeve won’t dip into the sauce.
Tell us about one of the most creative dishes you’ve created?
One of my favorite dishes is my “Foie Gras Dark Chocolate Truffle Bomb” or my twist on chocolate, with a roasted beets, shaved chocolate, pomegranate and citrus salad.
Share your most recent awards and accreditations with us!
I am constantly amazed by the heritage and legacy of the hotel. It is incredible to walk the halls when no one is around and feel the energy of years past. Being in the building that started a world-renowned brand of luxury at the highest standards, I am also extremely grateful to be able to cook for some of the most fascinating people.