Amused to Death (a Roger Waters Song)

I am grateful for being given the opportunity to return to The Wine Bar and lead the kitchen for the last 15 months.  I was at a low place in my life both emotionally and professionally just a couple of years ago and getting back to a familiar kitchen was the best thing for me at the time.  My creativity was stagnant, and my ability to thrive was almost non-existent before my return.

I have over time regained both my desire to be creative, and my aim to be a better and more influential chef.  As I look to the future, I have come to the realization that for further growth and satisfaction I need to venture out on my own and see what I can do as a chef when I am able to set the parameters and make my own rules.  In short, I need to express myself as a cook and as a person in my own arena.  Much more to come on that.

Therefore, it was necessary to resign my position of Chef at The Wine Bar to find my optimal place in the culinary landscape as I strive to reach my potential.  My last dinner service was April 6, 2019, a little sooner than I intended, but too often circumstances around these decisions fall out of your control and the influences of others’ actions can thwart even the best laid plans.

Again, thank you to the Wine Bar for giving me the ability to find my way again and the chance to grow as a person.  I think the last year has been mutually beneficial for most of us as we gained some great memories.

After three stints at The Wine Bar, I can assure you that there will not be a fourth. I’m going in my own direction, and at the age of 55, I’m hopeful that what is to come will be my last culinary adventure.  I have a few things left to prove to myself, and not much else to give any other owners, as I have extended myself beyond what many of them even know, and have too little to show for it.  I’ll put much of that on me, but this industry does not reward too many people for their hard work and dedication.

The dedication will now be to myself, my personal projects, and to my family.  I will promote my brands, and my projects, and work hard to make each one a success.

The Yawning Duck  will be my new restaurant, opening in 2-3 months.  In the mean time I’ll be offering catering services through the Yawning Duck, I’ll be working to do what I can to help those in our industry who need it through chefs4chefs, and I’ll keep you informed about my life on chefsday.  More on my plans in a separate post, soon.

What I will offer as advice to those who are in business or management, spend less time and effort trying to catch people doing something wrong and put more into noticing all the things they do right, and acknowledge it.  They’ll be happier, you’ll be happier.

Chez Sophie Reunion: For a Good Cause

As many people who follow restaurant news know, former Chez Sophie (and Rare Earth Wine Bar) chef/owner Paul Parker has been diagnosed with cancer of the tongue and lymph nodes in his neck.  The prognosis is good, but too often with cancer treatment comes financial difficulty.  I have decided to organize a fundraiser to help offset the costs of treatment, and to help supplement the family’s income while Paul is out of work, and to allow him to focus on getting well.

On Monday April 29th there will be a fundraising dinner event at Dunning Street Station at 2853 State Highway 9 in Malta, NY.  The site is the former long-time home of Chez Sophie where so many of the restaurant’s classic dishes were created and maintained.  The building is going back in time thanks to the generosity of owners Chef Scott Ringwood and Bob McKenna, and Dunning Street/Lake Ridge general manager Diana Murphy.

The doors will open at 5:00 with a cash bar for cocktails and passed hors d’oeuvres.  There will also be an opportunity to bid on some great items in a silent auction.  Those who are not having dinner are welcome to attend and say hello to some old friends, have a drink, and help support the effort.

Dinner will seat at about 6:30 with a quintessential tasting menu from the former great restaurant.  The group of chefs assembled thus far include me, chef and owner of Yawning Duck Culinary Services, and chef at The Wine Bar; Mark Graham, Chef de Cuisine/ Adelphi Hospitality; Dom Sud; Nick Yusavage, Executive Chef at Pasta Pane; and of course, Scott Ringwood of DSS, and Lake Ridge.  I am working at locating others and hope to add to the list.

Service will be coordinated by Diana Murphy of Dunning Street, and by Jennifer Derby Colose, who worked at the old spot, and was FOH manager for Paul and Cheryl at the Hilton site for a couple of years. There will be former servers and bar staff on hand to complete the reunion.

As a special and very appreciated treat, Dominick Purnomo of Yono’s/dp had volunteered his time along with Joe Armstrong of Winebow Inc. to pair wines and provide wine service for the evening.


Bean Paste | Warm Rock Hill Bread | Olive Oil

Country Style Pâté| Dijon and Whole Grain Mustards | Pickles

Crab Cake | Lemon-Caper Mayonnaise | Micro Salad

English Pea and Cucumber Soup | Crème Fraiche | Pistachios

Veal Scaloppini | Lemon Cream| Braised Carrots

Crispy Duck Breast | Apricot and Green Peppercorns | Wild Rice

Camembert | Fig Jam | Candied Almonds

Almost Flourless Chocolate Cake | Whipped Cream | Fresh Berries

The cost of the event is $100 per person for dinner, wine, beer, and cocktails are additional, plus tax and gratuity. The wine pairing will be $50, a true bargain, or you can choose your own beverages.

You can call Dunning Street Station at 518-587-2000 starting Tuesday, April 9th to reserve a spot.   Please, do not leave a message as you may not be guaranteed a spot.  All proceeds will go directly to the cause. 

Keep in mind, this is a fundraising affair and a dollar value cannot be placed on the outpouring of support, the effort necessary to create this event, and the special evening this will be.

I remember one of the first things said when the opportunity to move from the diner to the hotel came up “Now we can finally get health insurance for Randy (long time dish washer).”  I never forgot that, or the generosity Chez Sophie showed many people over the years.  It’s time to repay.

If you have any questions, or would like to help in any way you can, please email me at

We’re looking for product donations from food vendors, and items for the silent auction.  I will donate an in-home dinner for eight valued at $1000.  I also have a framed Chez Sophie print created and signed by Paul’s father, Joseph, that my wife and I will add to the mix.

There is also a GoFundMe page set up if you’re unable to attend the event but still want to help.