Bobo Chef Patrick Connolly Is Getting Excited for Ramp Season: Interview Part 2

Yesterday we celebrated St. Patrick's Day with Bobo chef Patrick Connolly. Today we shift gears back to the American heartland as he tells us about seasonally driven, local cooking.

What made you decide to become a chef?

I wasn't a very good student in college and then I made a decision that I wasn't good but I was good at cooking. So I just started working in the pub and then eventually went to cooking school in Rhode Island. Most of my growing up in business was in Boston and then I came to New York four years ago.

How would you describe your cooking style at Bobo?

I'd say that what I like to do is react to what's available rather than start with a menu and recipes and fill in the blanks. I'd rather see what I can source and base it off what's available. My style is definitely clubhouse-inspired, and there's the British influence and the traditional American cuisine.

Can you tell me more about Plate to Gate (Bobo's series of alfresco dinner parties hosted at local farms, oyster beds, breweries, vineyards, and urban rooftop farms)?

It was something we started last year as our way to go out to the Berkshires and Hamptons with our guests [who spent the summer there] and to go to the farms sourcing us and to bring people to the source of their food.

What's the most seasonal dish on the menu right now?

We have a side dish of celery root that's diced in the style of rice and we call it risotto and it's cooked with stock and garlic and it's finished with celery root puree. It's basically just one ingredient and a root vegetable, but it's solid.

Any ingredients you're looking forward to now that the weather is warming?

Ramps are always exciting, though they got superstar status last year. But really it's some of the stranger, foraged things like chickweed and spruce shoots that come out in late spring and are great complements to braised dishes. Less center-of-the-plate stuff and more supporting elements ...

How do you find farmers to work with at Bobo?

A lot is that I'll have a friend who has a friend who grows tomatoes and I'll try them out. It works pretty organically rather than going through a distributor.

Do you do any gardening or farming yourself?

We do at the restaurant but not so much at home.

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