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Relais & Châteaux Chef

Gary Danko

Chef - Relais & Châteaux

Gary Danko

L'histoire d'un chef Relais & Châteaux

I grew up in a large family with a southern mother, Hungarian father, and in a small town: Massena, New York. My father, Frank, built houses, Opal is my mother, housewife and household manager --we grew up as a working family. As the the third son, my two older brothers went to work with my father and I was delegated to stay home with my mother and learned how to clean and cook. And I changed quite a few baby diapers. My parents taught me a great work ethic, a discipline which is not easily taken to when you are young and have a love of good food! Eventually, I worked construction in the family business - my father had agreed to the remodeling of the local restaurant -The Village Inn. I went to work with him, was not interested in construction and disappeared into the restaurant’s kitchen and never looked back. At twelve, my first job was in the fall and winter as a hat check boy. I worked for tips. Eventually, when I was 14, I was started working in the kitchen as a dishwasher. We lived seven miles away and my father or brother drove me to and from work, until I could drive, many times way past midnight. As a chef of 30 years and a restaurateur for 10 years now - I work in the kitchen as well as whatever department needs realigning or clarification. Recharging for me is what I do in "stolen moments" where you work hard to make sure everything is in order so that when you have to leave for a day or weekend to get away, all your mise en place is fully done. You build it up before you leave and rebuild it when you return. Inspiration comes from sleep and chilling at home...and shopping. I love art and beautiful things - I always keep my eyes open for unique pieces, I shop for mid century modern, Hollywood Regency, Art Deco. I travel a lot in my position, so I do go to Europe or other locations with Relais and Chateaux, culinary excursions, guest chef events and promotions. I love to travel the world, I buy art in every country I visit, and I love certain eras in time for architecture and design, furniture and pieces that are hard to find - ones you see, fall in love with, and say I have to have that. There are so many great pieces I have passed up and regretted- I love beauty! Travel is one of the most essential parts of becoming a chef - it opens your eyes to the ways of the world and can influence your cooking and life! My food pleasures have evolved around simple pleasures such as the perfect fig, the perfect peach or roast chicken. These are hard to find!

What makes Dungeness crab special?

First of all, remember that it played an important role in defining San Franciscan culture, from the piers of Fisherman’s Wharf to the many Italian, Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants that serve it. The crab is also a key part of the local economy, and diners love it.

 

What is your Chef’s secret to preparing your star ingredient?

I steam it, shell it and serve it in different ways: cold in an avocado and tomato salad with basil vinaigrette, stirred into a creamy risotto, or in crab cakes with a red pepper sauce. It also works well in spicy dishes, and with all types of tropical flavors, like mango, papaya, palm heart and avocado. It’s good hot with butter-based sauces or cold with citrus vinaigrettes.

 

Les restaurants Relais & Châteaux de Gary Danko

Gary Danko

  • 1 Michelin Star 2021
  • Cooking classics
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