Chef Q&A with Tony Yaquinto from Compari’s on the Park
First up, Tony Yaquinto, head chef at Compari’s on the Park in Plymouth, Michigan. He’s the first chef who has pointed out using a special ingredient I’ve discovered from Mexican cooking, Maggi sauce, which has the depth of soy sauce without being overpowering (I’ll have to post on the miracle of Maggi sauce another time). On to Chef Yaquinto…
What three ingredients do you always keep stocked in your pantry?
I would like to say onion, chicken stock and kosher salt. Onion is the base for great soups and sauces and stocks. I use just standard white onions—a lot of them. Kosher salt is what I use to season all my food. And chicken stock, or even vegetable stock, is good for making sauces or even cooking ingredients in when you want to add flavor.
Your favorite meal to make or serve?
Pork tenderloin. Usually when I have family or friends over that’s what I make. It’s inexpensive and easy to prepare. I like to marinate it then grill it. With the marinade I usually put in a little bit of everything—oil, salt, pepper, garlic and I have a spice at home and in the restaurant I use for seasoning called Maggi and I put that in too. I might also rub on brown sugar and mustard to give it a nice crust.
We all have a favorite indulgence, for a chef like you it must be something spectacular?
Once a week I like to have a nice, big breakfast. A couple eggs over easy, bacon or sausage, toast.
What’s one of your worst cooking mistakes?
I do a cooking club here at the restaurant once a month. We meet with some guys that live around town. Once we made a cheesecake and one of the guys used salt instead of sugar–it came out a little bit salty. We always joke about it.
What do you suggest for first-timers to Compari’s on the Park? What menu item should they make sure to try?
I would recommend the fagioli calabrese. This dish is very unique, it’s something we came up with a few years ago and just started playing with since. It has butter beans, banana peppers, chicken stock, Italian sausage, white wine, cheese, and noodles. People may not be familiar with it, but 90% of those who try it fall in love with it.
Tomorrow I’ll pass along the recipe for Chef Yaquinto’s fagioli calabrese pictured above.