A Note from Hope: Meet Inkandescent Celebrity Chef Tara Nicosia! This native of New York has cooked up millions of meals for thousands of patrons at restaurants she’s owned or managed from the Hamptons to Coral Gables.
Today, she is cooking personal dinners for patrons in Las Vegas — while creating a brand new business that she’ll unveil in the coming months on the pages on Inkandescent Women magazine. I can’t wait to share her news, and her delicious dishes. Stay tuned!
For now, a couple of treats for you:
- First, scroll down to read a profile featuring Chef Tara in the pages of Hamptons magazine.
- Then, check out Tara’s crab cake recipe.
THE CHEF’S WIFE: Meet the new chef at Greenport’s The Merchants Wife
Here is a full disclosure: Tara Nicosia, the head chef at The Merchant’s Wife, located at the new and incredibly chic hotel The Menhaden, in Greenport, and I are friends. Our bond was forged years ago over endless oyster platters and bottles of Champagne back in Miami when she and her husband, Alfredo Alvarez, worked at one of my husband’s restaurants.
Its major success was in no small part due to this inseparable duo. Nicosia ran the front of the house that on any given night could turn over almost 1,000 covers. She was the tough one who knew when to turn up a smile at the hostess stand and when to crack the whip in the kitchen. Alvarez’s cookery was the stuff of legends and it took him around the world, winning endless accolades and celebrity fanfare. And then he died.
Today, almost two years later, Nicosia is standing on her two feet, helming The Merchant’s Wife, a quaint, tapas-style restaurant that features a coastal Mediterranean menu. “I learned a lot from Alfredo,” she tells me when we finally catch up on a sunny Sunday afternoon. “That was the cuisine he loved the most.” While the influence may come from her husband’s repertoire, the execution is all Nicosia, who was chef, owner and operator of two restaurants, one in Harrison, N.Y., and one in White Plains, N.Y.
“We are executing a menu created by my predecessor because I wanted to make sure the first season runs as smoothly as possible,” she explains. Some of the standout items include striped bass a la plancha with olive oil mashed potatoes and charred lemon vinaigrette and seared sea scallops with minted pea salad, yogurt and salsa verde.
“This autumn I will reveal my own ideas,” she adds. Most likely Nicosia’s menu will highlight local produce and meat and fish sourced in the area. “One of my greatest joys is building the relationships with local farms. It’s a privilege to work with them and to create ideas based on what’s available and not the other way around.”
As we wrap up our afternoon together, after I finished off delicious eggs Benedict that Alfredo would have loved, I turn to Nicosia and say with a wink, “This place should be called The Chef’s Wife.” She looks at me puzzled. “I am the chef now,” she responds, tightening up her apron before disappearing behind the kitchen door. 207 Front St., Greenport, 631.333.2777, themenhaden.com
Cooking Good: Classic Maryland Crab Cakes, by Chef Tara
What you’ll need:
- 1 pound lump crabmeat
- 8-10 Saltine crackers
- 3 T. mayo
- 1 T. dijon mustard
- 1/4 t. Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 t. salt to taste
- dash of black pepper
- 1 t. lemon juice
- Place crabmeat in a mixing bowl.
- In another bowl crush crackers until very fine, then mix together with spices and sauce.
- Gently fold into crabmeat, keeping the meat in tact (as much as possible).
- Shape crabmeat into small balls (about 6-8 if you like them to be larger; 12-15 if you prefer them to be lollipop size, pictured above).
- Cover, and chill for about an hour in the refrigerator.
- Heat 1 T. vegetable oil in skillet on medium-high heat and cook crab cakes until golden brown (about 3-5 minutes on each side, depending on size).
- For a saucy finish, spread a dollop of your favorite mayo on the plate and top with the crab cake. Garnish with half of a lemon and a sprig of fresh parsley.
- Take a pic and send it to us at Inkandescent Women magazine.