From the Rooftop Garden to the Plate: Matthew Varga, Gracie's
Gracie’s has become a downtown staple known for its impeccable service, rotating menus and detailed touch points. What other restaurant’s valet leaves a bag of freshly baked cookies in the car for an after-dinner treat? Helming the kitchen is executive chef Matthew Varga, a Johnson & Wales alum who, prior to Gracie’s, worked at Mill’s Tavern, Raphael’s and Trattoria Simpatico. We sat down with Matthew to talk about his creative process, the restaurant’s rooftop garden and those tasting menus.
How’d you get started as a chef?
I’ve worked in kitchens since I was 15 years old and washing dishes. I love the camaraderie and the artistic, creative ability that you can have while cooking and the satisfaction of taking raw ingredients and working with your hands to create something tasty and beautiful that makes people happy.
How frequently does the menu at Gracie’s change?
Our à la carte menu changes about six to eight times a year and our tasting menus change every week or two, depending on the availability of products that are in season and what our farmers are bringing us.
What inspires new creations?
Travel inspires me a lot. I was in Paris recently, and that had a big influence on my spring menu and it’ll have a big influence on my summer menu as well. This past October, I spent time in Prague, Budapest and Nuremberg, so those Eastern European flavors really inspired my fall and winter menus – lots of braised cabbages, slow-cooked duck and pork. I do have a plan to travel through Italy later this year, so I imagine my time spent there will inspire my upcoming fall and winter menus. I like to think what we do here at Gracie’s is globally inspired and locally acquired.
Read the full article at ProvidenceOnline.com.