Chef Steve Scalesse, Tullulah's
Steve Scalesse, 32, is chef-owner of Tullulah's in Bay Shore. He lives in Islip.
What would people be surprised to hear you like to eat?
I love to eat crappy Chinese takeout, but I like it even more straight out of the refrigerator.
If you could, which food would you ban from all restaurant menus?
I would probably say I would never want to see another penne ala vodka.
Which Long Island restaurant would you take a chef friend to?
The Curry Kebob House on Route 112. I just love Indian cuisine, and the spices always surprise me. I brought one of my friends there and now he's hooked on it.
What's on your kitchen playlist?
Beatles, N.E.R.D, Brand New, Thrice, The Strokes, Passion Pit, Empire of the Sun and so much more.
What's the new kale?
We're doing lollipop kale now. And we're using tomatillos.
What's the last great meal you had?
At Market Bistro in Jericho. I had a five-course tasting on my birthday -- a little bit of everything. The food just kept coming out.
Electronic devices at the table: Love them, ban them, don't care?
Ban them. Socialize, people. I'd rather see people talking and communicating with each other.
How do you dream up a dish?
First I think of my protein, then I think of flavor profiles and combinations. Then cooking technique. We're doing our spring pasta -- the pasta is made with kale, spinach and zucchini. It's a take on pasta primavera, but there are no vegetables -- the vegetable is the pasta.
How do you handle staff romances?
We don't encourage them, but sometimes love happens.
What's your worst kitchen nightmare?
It happened when we were Small Tallulah's, one of the grease traps overflowed during service -- thank god it was near the end of the night. It's something I never want to experience again in my life.
What did your mother say about your becoming a chef?
She always let me help her cook when I was a little boy; it started there. It was no surprise when she saw how happy it made me and I went to culinary school.
Who's your culinary hero?
Michel Bras. His cutting edge cuisine that he has been doing forever, not a new thing for him. He always thought outside the box. I try to take a little bit of everything from chefs I love.
What's your favorite cooking tool?
My black steel pan, by far.
What's your go-to pizza place?
It's a toss-up between Renzo's and Mulberry Street in East Islip. If I'm getting a regular slice, it's definitely going to be at Renzo's, but for a specialty slice -- either Roman, Crispino or Grandma -- it's Mulberry Street. I worked there many years ago.
What makes a great customer?
One who likes an adventure.