Friday, May 18, 2012

In the Chef's Corner with Orlando Rodriquez

Editor's note: Over the next few weeks we are going to tell the stories of the chefs and restaurants participating in the Finger Lakes Wine Country Restaurant Week Challenge, June 18-24. Some of the chefs have had surprising entry points into the culinary scene in the Finger Lakes. For others, their paths were more planned, more part of a master plan. For all however, the common theme is their passion and commitment to the food movement in the Finger Lakes. Help us celebrate their commitment to sourcing 100% local ingredients and wines during this special week and may Restaurant Week become Restaurant Year.

In the Chef’s Corner with Orlando Rodriquez
Executive Chef at The Inn at Glenora Wine Cellars

Written by Rochelle Bilow

Orlando Rodriquez
Veraisons at the Inn at Glenora Wine Cellars and Executive Chef Orlando Rodriguez are a match made in foodie heaven. The gorgeous dining room and terrace champion farm-fresh local ingredients and, lucky for wine-savvy diners, so does Rodriguez.

“[When I started cooking professionally] we would change our menu every day depending on what farms brought. That’s just the way I did it,” says Rodriguez, speaking of his start as a chef.

He has been working as Veraisons’ Executive Chef for five years, but before that he worked at both tavern and fine dining-style restaurants in Connecticut. Prior to that, he earned an Associate’s Culinary Degree and a Bachelor’s in Restaurant Management, both from the Culinary Institute of America.

Rodriguez began cooking at a much earlier age, though, in his father’s restaurant. He was a part of the operation as early as age 12, and when he hit high school, he knew that his childhood passion was destined to become a career. “My mother says I would pull out pots and pans and pretend to cook,” he says. “I don’t remember it, but maybe that’s where I got my start. Food has always been my passion.”

He moved to the Finger Lakes with his wife and children to work at Glenora, where the menu changes quarterly, boasting local and seasonal ingredients like Lively Run goat cheese, ramps and pea shoots in the spring. Diners can enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner at Veraisons, taking note on the menu of the growers that provide each ingredient, like Cornish game hens from Autumn Harvest Farm. The restaurant is offering both lunch and dinner specials with optional wine pairings for the Finger Lakes Wine Country Restaurant Week Challenge.

Restaurant Week-goers can expect great things from Rodriguez and Veraisons. “I’ve done local before,” he says, “but there are a lot more products here in the Finger Lakes than I’m used to having access to. We have dairy, meat and produce; every day I’m finding something new. It’s great to cook here.”



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