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Patrick Vaccariello is the chef at Harry's Café, Harry's Steak, and Gold St., the new 24-hour financial district diner where kobe beef sliders and toro scallion maki meet BLT wraps and Belgian waffles. Vaccariello grew up in an Italian/Dutch family in Pelham Bay and later lived in Rhode Island. Now he says he can't imagine leaving New York. "Well, maybe I could retire there, you know, when I'm too old to work 14-hour days," he said of the "Ocean State," adding that he's a Cancer and loves water. It turns out the chef would head to the shore for his fantasy last meal, too.
So, is it supposed to be a last meal in a restaurant or at home? It's anything you want. You could travel around the world, or bring back some long-dead chef to cook for you if you want.Wow.
Well, I can't necessarily make it happen, but I can write it down.Right. Well, I would want a fisherman'sstyle baked, stuffed lobster. When I say "fisherman'sstyle," I mean stuffed with scallops, shrimp, crabmeat, and the lobster meat itself. And of course I would want to eat with my closest friends and family.
Did you grow up eating this kind of thing?Well, I used to work in Rhode Island on the shore, and that would be a really popular dish during summer. Also, it's pretty lavish.
Where would you eat it? On the beach?Oh, yeah. On the beach. Sounds real good. You're invited!
Thanks! But I hope you're not on death row. What would you drink? A Joseph Phelps Chardonnay. And for dessert, blueberry pie with vanilla ice cream. And what kind of wine would I drink with that?
I don't know.I was gonna say a sauterne, but that's too sweet. How about a fruity Beaujolais.
OK, and would you cook the meal yourself? I think I'd have it cooked for me. Hey, you deserve it. Well, is that it? Anything to start?Well, you know, let's start with a watermelon salad with pine nuts, arugula, and feta cheese. Whoa. You were pretty all-American until just now. Is that on the menu at one of the restaurants?Yeah, Harry's Café. We started making it last summer. It gives you good feelings all over.
Check out Eat for Victory for Patrick Vaccariello's watermelon salad recipe (at Nina Lalli's Eat for Victory).