Born and raised in upstate New York, Chef Owner Charlie Palmer first burst onto the New York dining scene in the mid 1980s when he was named Executive Chef at The River Café. At the young age of 28, Charlie opened Aureole restaurant as Chef and proprietor. It was at Aureole that his signature style began to emerge. "I realized that American cuisine was just in its infancy and I spent a lot of time thinking about what the idea of American cooking really meant to me as a chef," says Palmer. "My experience growing up on a farm and my time spent at Georges Blanc in France where one artisanal producer would bring all of his perfectly-made goat cheese to the doorstep of our kitchen had a strong impact on me. So I began to seek out and support my own small American producers in an effort to use the best raw products available at Aureole - it inspired my creative juices and helped to mold my style."
And today, Palmer's creativity is sparked by working with his team of cooks at all of his locations. "My juices really get flowing when I talk to one of our chefs about new products or a trip one of us took - we play at coming up with pages and pages of new dishes. And right now, I cook more than ever - there's nothing like jumping behind the line and cooking for three hours with the new guy on the fish station to establish a good rapport and have him learn to cook to the standards of my palate."
Charlie Palmer has combined his creative cooking spirit with his flair for business to establish an impressive roster of restaurants across the country : Aureole, Alva, and Métrazur in New York City; Aureole at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino and Charlie Palmer Steak at The Four Seasons Hotel in Las Vegas, and Dry Creek Kitchen located in the Palmer'owned boutique Hotel Healdsburg in Sonoma, California. In addition, Charlie Palmer owns and operates Astra and Astra West, impressive catering and event spaces located, respectively, in the D&D building in New York and the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles.
A Trusted Lieutenant
With the expansion of Palmer's new ventures from coast to coast, he needed a capable lieutenant to oversee Aureole's kitchens. Dante Boccuzzi, self-proclaimed Charlie Palmer protégé and celebrated in his own right in Europe and the U.S., has returned to Aureole as executive chef.
Prior to joining Aureole, Dante was executive chef at Nobu/Milan in Italy, working directly with Giorgio Armani at his flagship establishment where the restaurant is located. His three-year tenure at Silks Restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in San Francisco resulted in two James Beard nominations for Rising Chef of the Year in 1998 and 1999 and catapulted the restaurant to the city's top-10 list.
After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in 1991, Dante began his career at Aureole, where for two years he gained extensive experience in all aspects of the kitchen under Charlie Palmer's eye. Charlie encouraged Dante to further his training elsewhere. He spent three years in Europe working in Italy, France, and England in restaurants such as Michelin one-star London restaurant, L'Escargot, the famed Les Muscadins Hotel Restaurant in Mougins, France, as well as Michelin three-star Gualtiero Marchesi in Brescia, Italy. He also added a "stage" in Hong Kong and Taiwan in his pursuit to explore influential culinary traditions from around the world.
A phone call from Charlie Palmer in 1997 reunited Dante and Charlie once again. Charlie, working as a restaurant consultant to Silks in San Francisco, decided Dante would be the ideal chef for this new restaurant. Within months, it was receiving the highest accolades. Dante's classic French menu with subtle Asian flavors interspersed inspired dishes such as Seared Tuna Steak Wrapped in Seaweed with Tobikko Caviar and Shiitake Fritters Laced with Candied Ginger.
Dante's Italian heritage also plays a strong role in his approach to his cooking. "The Italian kitchen is very simple and pure, and this characteristic has to be respected. In preparing a dish I try to focus on just two to three ingredients; and in the preparation, make one enhance the other and vice versa."
Besides cooking, another passion of Dante's is his music. About to release his second CD, a combination of blues and rock, Dante hopes to start an all-chef band in New York, similar to one he had in San Francisco.
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