This Mardi Gras, we’re letting les bons temps rouler in The Standard Grill. Executive Chef Paul Hargrove is joining forces with Chef Dominick Lee (whose new spot Alligator Pear opens this spring in NYC) for a four-day pop-up menu. “A Taste of New Orleans” features the flavors + techniques of New Orleans-Creole cuisine: char-broiled oysters, dirty rice boudin, vegetable jambalaya, and bananas foster. We caught up with Chef Dominick to learn about his culinary influences, his new restaurant and some Mardi Gras memories from The Big Easy.
Share a really great Mardi Gras memory (if you can).
One of my favorite Mardi Gras memories is when my niece asked me to accompany her to a parade. When I went i realized I was taking her to meet up with her friends, I had an instant flashback to when my mom would bring me to parades...and realized I had become the chaperone uncle...lol. We still had a great time it was just so interesting to see how these kinds of traditions just continue to get passed on.
Stepping back, how did you first fall in love with food, and what effect do those early influences have your menus today?
I first fell in love with food traveling with my late aunt, who would take me to all types of restaurants as a kid. She always taught me about different cultures and the types of foods that come from them. From trying all of those flavors I have just always been curious about food and how to bring ingredients together to make an amazing dish.
New Orleans’ food history is legendary. What do folks outside of NOLA most often get wrong about Creole cuisine?
I feel that most often people confuse Creole and Cajun cuisine which are extremely different, and luckily for me I have family from both sides of the coin so I can understand the differences. Creole cuisine, though, is super special because it is particular to New Orleans and the melting pot of the people who are New Orleanians.
Tell us about Alligator Pear—what can diners expect from your new restaurant?
Authenticity, genuine hospitality and care. Our goal is to make our guests have an amazing experience with great New Orleans-themed food and drinks, whilst listening to live music seven days a week. Our goals is to be the place you want to go to everyday for every occasion.
What’s it been like to collaborate with Chef Paul Hargrove?
Chef Paul is an amazing chef as well as a person and it just always feels good to see a familiar face in a gigantic city. I appreciate him welcoming me into his kitchen and throwing down some amazing food from our hometown.
Do you have any advice for folks trying to make bananas foster at home? It’s a little scary to set a dessert on fire.
Take your time and don't go crazy with the rum. Its super delicious and one of the best dishes you can prepare to end the night. Guaranteed for you to sleep well.