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MAX CAVALERI- THE NEW YORK TIMES

What set you on the path to become a Chef, when did you first decide you wanted to pursue this career within the culinary field. What other positions have you held in the past? Can you elaborate on those positions?

Growing up Italian and Jewish meant that life revolves around food. Even before I knew I wanted to become a chef I learned how to make my family’s tomato sauce recipe. My great aunt worked in an Italian Market well into her 70s and she always made huge Italian meals every time we went to her house. My mom was a pretty decent cook and I always helped her in the kitchen mostly because I was a pretty picky eater and wanted to make sure the food was the way I liked it. By the time I was 15 cooking seemed to make the most sense to me and I wanted to see what it was like to work in a real kitchen. I began my culinary career as a chef’s apprentice in a small French bistro in Los Angeles.

I then moved to a country club as a prep cook during my last few years while still in high school. After high school I started at UNLV in the culinary management program but after my first year I wanted a more cooking focused program and decided culinary school is where I should be. I moved back to Los Angeles and enrolled at The Art Institute in Santa Monica and started working for Levy Restaurants at Dodger Stadium and The Staples Center. Once I felt more confident with my cooking skills, I was hired at a Michelin Star restaurant in Venice Beach. I worked all the stations there. I learned real Farm-to-Table cooking and California French Cuisine. Also during culinary school I did a three month externship in Switzerland at a five star hotel. Shortly after I graduated culinary school I wanted to see what the food scene was like outside of Los Angeles, so I moved to New York. I was quickly hired at The Oak Room in The Plaza Hotel. After over a year there I was hired at Café Boulud. After a few months working there, my former chef from The Oak Room offered me a Sous Chef job at a restaurant he was taking over in Hell’s Kitchen. I helped create and open the new restaurant but after about a year and a half, like a lot of restaurants, issues and concerns arose; I came to the realization that I could continue to bounce around from restaurant to restaurant or I could find a company I could make a career with. I found Restaurant Associates to be the company I could see myself staying with for a long time. I am about to begin my 7th year with RA. Since October 2017 I have been the Executive Chef at The New York Times

What would you say is your most intricate dish? What's your inspiration behind it, What's the story?

One of my most intricate dish is the one i am doing for this dinner, Skuna Bay Salmon Sausage. I wanted to find a way to showcase Skuna Bay Salmon in a different way that could also let the clean and fresh flavour of the salmon stand out. Most seafood sausage use shrimp or other shellfish but since my wife has a shellfish allergy and will be attending the dinner, i had to figure out how to keep the similar texture and moisture you get with adding the shellfish. I also wanted to keep it prescatarian and after a long search, i found a great edible vegan casing.

What aspects of Skuna Bay brand resonates with you and why? In your experience with working with our Salmon, how is it comparable with other premium products you’ve used in the past.

The aspect of Skuna Bay that really resonates with me is knowing exactly where it comes from, how it is handled, and the consistency of the fish. I like knowing that when I receive the fish, I am the third person to actually touch it since it was caught. I appreciate the fact that sizing and quality is always the same.

Where do you pull inspiration for the menu at the cafes or the Times Center catering?

Working at The New York Times is very different than working at a restaurant. We serve around 1800 - 2000 meals a day and we serve mostly the same people every day. We have to offer a wide variety of items and always be innovative. Our guests are very aware of what the newest food trends are and have many different backgrounds and tastes. I try to always use seasonal and local products, which our guests appreciate and seek out. I also try to stay traditional and true to any ethnic cuisines we cook.

How have you applied these inspirational aspects to your dishes, or your menu? Was there any inspiration or influence behind incorporating Skuna Bay on your menu?

Our guests also appreciate sustainability and morally positives products. Skuna Bay fits those aspects and we love educating them about all that Skuna Bay does.