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Ask a Chef: Iron Chef America Winner Peter Armellino

Hilary Deutsch

March 10, 2016

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An alum of Gramercy Tavern and Gotham Bar & Grill, chef Peter Armellino now helms the kitchen at Northern California’s splurge-worthy Plumed Horse. For one night only, the Iron Chef America winner returns to the Big Apple for an elegant evening of Michelin-starred food at the Beard House. In anticipation of Armellino's upcoming dinner, we spoke to the acclaimed culinarian about the Bay Area's top pizza joint, ramen, and why clam chowder will always be a mainstay of his menu.

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What is your inspiration behind the menu for this Beard House event?

It's a presentation of some of my favorite dishes from the last couple of menus at the Plumed Horse. It's a never-ending quest to challenge myself to create—and not reintroduce—dishes from the past, but I'm using this as an opportunity to highlight some of my favorite successes. 

What's a dish on your Beard House event menu that you're especially excited about or proud of, and why? 

The Davenport Abalone with Sea Urchin Flan, Smoked Miyagi Oysters, and Nori Crackers. It represents where I started and where I'm at right now. One of the first things I learned as a young cook was how to make a proper New England clam chowder and since then, soup has always been a mainstay of my menu and a true expression of myself. The soup on my Beard House menu starts in Long Island, where I'm from, and continues to the Bay Area. 

What’s your guilty-pleasure food?

Pizza. When I first moved to the Bay Area, I couldn't get a good slice of pizza anywhere! But the city has really picked up their game and now there are some amazing pizzas made with local California ingredients. Tony's Pizza Napoletana in San Francisco has a New York–style pie that I'll drive an hour to get at least once a month. 

Who's been your biggest inspiration, and what dish would you cook to thank them?

I've been very fortunate to work for a lot of great chefs. My biggest inspiration would be chef Starr Boggs. He mentored me when I worked at his Westhampton restaurant, Starr Boggs, when I was 20. I would cook him fried softshell clams with sliced surryano ham, purslane, and compressed Crenshaw melon. 

What are the best places to eat in your city these days? 

 
Nothing beats a good bowl of ramen, and here in Santa Clara we are lucky to have Orenchi. Their sister restaurant Sumika, in Los Altos, has excellent yakitori. I probably go to both spots once a month for date night with the missus. They're amazing every time.
 

Take a peek at what Peter Armellino will be cooking at the Beard House on March 18 and book your seat.

View all upcoming Beard House events and book your seat at jamesbeard.org/events.

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Hilary Deutsch is editorial assistant at the James Beard Foundation. Find her on Instagram.