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Monday, March 9, 2009

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Sal Scognamillo, Co-owner/Executive Chef at Patsy’s

As executive chef of the legendary Italian eatery, Sal Scognamillo has been manning the Patsy’s kitchen for over 15 years. The grandson of the late Pasquale “Patsy” Scognamillo, who founded the restaurant in 1944, Sal is only the third chef to take the reins of the family operated culinary institution.

Over the years’ Patsy’s has developed a line of products including seven sauces, roasted vegetables, oils and vinegars, as well as a cook book. Patsy’s sauces have received 15 awards and are carried in markets and specialty stores across the United States.

Sal has been featured in many publications including The New York Times, Esquire, America West, Travel Agent Magazine, New York Post, New York Daily News, Crain’s New York Business and has made numerous appearances on national television including The TV Food Network and ABC’s “Live with Regis & Kathie Lee”. And now he is on Whom You Know! Peachy Deegan is happy to know Sal.

Born in Brooklyn, Sal attended St. John’s University, receiving a BA in Communication Arts and TV and Film Production. After college, Sal headed to Patsy’s where he took over the chef’s responsibilities from his father Joe. Sal is married with two sons and resides in Long Island, New York. He enjoys fishing, golf, and cooking in his spare time.

Peachy Deegan: What is your first memory of Patsy's?
Sal Scognamillo: I remember being 8 years old and having a sip of espresso while sitting on my grandpa Patsy’s lap.

Did you ever think that you would be something other than a chef?
I went to school for Television and Film production, so no, I didn’t have intentions of being a chef from a young age.

How do you feel you emulate your father and grandfather as a chef?
I won’t change their recipes, they’ve been successful for so long, but I do like to have fun by making my own specials.

In what ways do you feel you are different from them as a chef?
I think I am more open to try different things.

Are your sons considering being chefs?
I was never forced into the business, so the same holds true for them and the option is open for them if they’d like.

What new innovations have changed the style of Patsy's if at all?
The basic concept of the family restaurant has always remained the same, but technology has really changed the way we can communicate with our loyal customers through the use of the internet. Also, Patsy’s is on Twitter and Facebook now. [So is Whom You Know!]

What do you enjoy cooking most?

How is cooking in your spare time different from cooking at work?
I do not cook in my spare time.

What is your favorite place to be in NYC?
Besides Patsy’s, Gallagher’s Steak House.

What is your favorite shop?
Di Palo’s Fine Food in Little Italy – we’re their oldest customers have been buying our cheese from them for 65 years.

What is your favorite drink?
Diet Coke, or any red wine.

What is your favorite restaurant?
See previous answer.

What is your favorite NYC book?
Besides Patsy’s cookbook, Florence Fabricant’s New York Restaurant Cookbook.

What is your favorite thing to do in NYC that you can do nowhere else?
I love the theater New York City has to offer.

What do you think is most underrated and overrated here?
Not enough credit is given to New Yorkers – we are willing to lend a helping hand to those in need. Apartment space is overrated, however.

What else should Whom You Know readers know about you?
I’ve had all sorts of fish tanks with various species of fish all of my life.

How would you like to be contacted by Whom You Know readers?
Patsy’s is located at 236 West 56th Street, (212) 247-3491

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