Inside Inspīr’s Kitchen
At Inspīr, nutrition plays a vital role in the overall health of our residents. Meals are an integral part of everyday living, created to spark the senses and rekindle memories. Chef Giovanni Maffei brings his world-inspired cuisine to both 1802, our fine dining restaurant, and Onyx, our bistro-style venue on the 17th floor.
Since arriving at Inspīr, Chef Gio has immersed himself in creating menus and developing relationships with local purveyors. He aims to deliver an exceptional dining experience to all residents. Whether they find joy in eating a delicious meal, share a passion for cooking, or require a specialized diet, Chef Gio makes dishes for all to enjoy. We sat down with Chef Gio recently to hear more about his menu development for Inspīr.
Tell us about the experience of having a meal at 1802.
1802 is located on the ground floor of the residence. The open kitchen looks out into the main private dining area, with a full selection of wine displayed on the back wall. The adjacent dining room has been fitted with plush banquettes and comfortable armchairs in rich tones and fabrics that exude elegance and sophistication. Pendant lamps, inspired by Hans-Agne Jakobsson’s fringe ceiling lamp, hang throughout the space, which is also adorned with luscious plants and natural light. Residents will enjoy high-end hospitality and service while watching our culinary team at work.
Dishes are inspired by local favorites, world cuisines, and produce, and our waitstaff brings the dishes to life when serving residents. For example, our salmon pizza is a twist on two New York classics: the pizza, and a bagel with lox. We use salmon that has been flown in from the best farms in Scotland especially for Catsmo Artisan Smokehouse in upstate New York. The salmon is smoked over oak. We top the base with cream cheese, Satur Farm’s wild arugula, avocado, fresh garlic, and red onion.
How will seasonal produce and locally sourced ingredients inspire your menus?
Our menus will change seasonally based on the availability of fresh ingredients. In summer, we will take advantage of the various tomato varietals such as heirloom, beefsteak, and cherry tomatoes. Heirloom tomatoes are used to create dishes like gazpacho and Caprese salad. Cherry tomatoes are used to garnish our fish dishes by way of chutneys and salsas. The beefsteak variety is used to make fresh tomato sauce, or just sliced and served with lox.
In the fall and into winter, cruciferous vegetables and seasonal fruits will highlight the dishes. Residents will enjoy roasted cauliflower steak with Romesco sauce, brussels sprouts in a Caesar salad, or a charred broccoli salad with almonds and dates. I look forward to taking advantage of all the varieties of apples that we’ll receive from the Hudson Valley, turning them into everything from delicious pies to relishes or even dehydrated slices. Hearty main dishes will include braised lamb shanks with roasted root vegetables or a sweet potato bisque soup topped with toasted cashew cream.
As spring arrives, the garden will be our inspiration. We will serve delicious combinations like roasted beet carpaccio with burrata, charred asparagus with a chili-lime vinaigrette, rhubarb-strawberry crisp, or a cold pea soup garnished with lump crab salad.
Thanks to the many local cheese producers, we will also serve artisan cheeses in our dishes and at the bar. Our cheeses come from 5 Spoke Creamery in Goshen, NY, and I look forward to introducing our residents to their selection of flavors. Their Porter cheese is a lightly pressed semi-soft wheel with a pleasant buttery taste, and their Tumbleweed cheddar is a cross between a Cantal Fermier and aged cheddar.
Our seasonal philosophy is also infused into our holiday menus through the utilization of fresh produce and proteins. For holidays like Thanksgiving, our turkeys will be brined and roasted in-house and served with classic sides with an inspired twist. Our dish called Turchetta is a take on the Italian classic Porchetta traditionally made with pork but will be made with turkey. For Rosh Hashanah, we will add traditional dishes like brisket and honey cake, and for Christmas, we will serve seafood and other favorites like baked ham and plum pudding.
Tell us what you are planning for your weekly chef demos.
Our weekly chef demos will run the gamut. We will make a variety of foods like fresh pasta, acai bowls, delicious smoothies with high nutritional value, and even homemade cheese. We will also explore healthy alternatives to favorite dishes using plant-based ingredients like nuts to substitute for dairy and meat. And, of course, we will fulfill some of those guilty cravings with pleasure foods like pizzas, churros, and chocolate truffles. Depending on how many residents are in attendance, the demonstrations will be held either in our main kitchen on the ground floor, or we’ll use our moveable cooking stations in the SkyPark or another venue on one of the amenity floors.
What are you planning for specialized brunches on the weekends?
We aim to make the Inspīr brunch the most anticipated dining experience of the week. Working with fresh ingredients, we’ll create our own versions of brunch classics with a special spin.
For example, we’ll be offering a wide range of options, including dishes such as banana soufflé pancakes, breakfast bowls, a variety of quiches along with classics like eggs Benedict with an avocado hollandaise sauce. With our focus on health, smoothies and agua frescas will be staples at Inspīr. For smoothies, we have a kale version with pineapple and mint, which is very refreshing, and another with strawberry, banana, and peanut butter. The agua frescas are infused with fresh fruit, such as watermelon and strawberries with mint in summer, beet and ginger in fall, citrus-basil in winter, and cucumber-lime in the spring.
What kinds of world-inspired dishes do you expect to present to Inspīr residents?
In addition to our seasonal dishes that celebrate local produce, we will be creating a wide variety of dishes that reflect the rich cultural influences the New York City dining scene is known for, as well as dishes commonly enjoyed throughout Blue Zones around the world. At 1802, we’ll serve New York classics such as pastrami and corned beef, but we’ll also introduce a contemporary spin on classic dishes such as beet pastrami and spaghetti squash BBQ ribs. We’ll have a light seafood dish, which includes roasted scallops with cauliflower carpaccio. The cauliflower is sliced paper thin on a mandolin and served with truffle vinaigrette made with extra virgin olive oil, shallots, and mustard. The dish is topped with a fried quail egg. Summer dishes include a yellow watermelon gazpacho using yellow heirloom tomatoes, yellow organic watermelon, aged sherry vinegar, red onion, olive oil, and garlic. A watermelon “faux tuna” poke bowl will also be on the menu, which has watermelon, soy sauce, and sesame oil mixed with other fresh vegetables. Additionally, we plan to draw from the different cultures in New York by serving some authentic dishes but also melding together different dishes and cultures. We’ll be serving a variety of curry dishes like curried apple soup and Dahl.
Can you reveal any of the local purveyors you’ve secured to work with?
Yes, I can, as we’ve just secured many of them.
Ronnybrook Farm Dairy, based in Ancramdale, New York, will provide fresh milk and yogurt for our 1802 restaurant. The Ronnybrook family has been in business for over 70 years, and they manage every phase of milk production and pride themselves on being KVH Kosher certified and New York State Grown certified.
Lioni Latticini, Inc. will provide a variety of delicious cheeses including mozzarella, burrata, and stracciatella. The Salzarulo family began its latticini (dairy product) tradition over 100 years ago in the town of Lioni, located near Naples in southern Italy. The family moved to Brooklyn in 1980 and, within only three decades, transformed their small neighborhood business into a nationally recognized manufacturer of fresh mozzarella.
Hudson River Fruit Distributors will provide a wide range of apple varieties to use in our dishes. Based in Milton, New York, it is one of the largest apple growers in this region.
Koppert Cress USA is our source for micro greens and specialty lettuce. Based on Long Island, it has its origins in Dutch innovative agriculture and greenhouse expertise. They produce living microgreens, cut microgreens, and specialties for the top restaurants in the industry.
Norwich Meadows Farm, located in upstate New York, will provide baby carrots and heirloom potatoes when in season.
Baldor Specialty Foods will provide a range produce and meats. Baldor was originally Balducci’s Produce fruit stand in Greenwich Village, New York, in 1946, but has maintained its original promise to curate and deliver the best and freshest food in the world.
Chef Maffei is looking forward to sharing his passion with Inspīr residents. Whether relaxing at the bar or in the lounge, indulging in fine dining options, or taking in views of the East River from the SkyPark, residents will enjoy dining atmospheres that are truly unmatched. Sample menus for both 1802 and Onyx are available on our Dining Venues webpage, but Chef Maffei will continue to develop his dishes in the upcoming weeks, and will undoubtedly be forming additional relationships with local purveyors.