Mike Colameco spent the better part of the ‘80s in the trenches of the New York City restaurant scene and he has the war stories to prove it:
- ‘81: Line Cook, Four Seasons Restaurant, under Chef Seppi Rengli
- ‘82-’83: Sous Chef, Maurice Restaurant, under Chef Christian Delouvrier and consulting Michelin 3-Star Chef Alain Senderens
- ‘84: Restaurant Chef, Cellar in the Sky/Windows on The World with Chefs Eberhard Muehler and Herman Reiner
- ‘85-’86: Exec., Sous Chef/Night Chef, Tavern on The Green with Chefs Stefan Kopf and Reto Demarmels
- ‘86-’87: Executive Chef, The Ritz Carlton, Central Park South, NYC
These days he’s happy to run his own import business, host a cooking show on WNET-TV/Channel 13 and teach classes with the 92nd Street Y. Although originally from Philadelphia, he’s a real New York guy.
How many years, apartments and what neighborhoods have you lived in NYC?
On and off since 1982. I’ve had 8 addresses.
What’s your best (or worst) NYC taxi story?
I don’t take cabs much, prefer the subway. Used to bicycle around town when I was younger, once I ran into a cab that cut me off. We had words.
What era, day or event in New York’s history would you like to relive?
I think the last twenty five years have been just swell.
Describe that low, low moment when you thought you just might have to leave NYC for good.
I’ve left the city twice, both for financial/family reasons, and it was always sad. You miss it even before you’ve left… but I always knew I’d come back.
Who do you consider to be the greatest New Yorker of all time?
There have been so many giants either from here, or people who came and transformed the city and their craft. For homegrown greats, Fiorello La Guardia come to mind at the top of my list, as does Theodore Roosevelt, and of course Bud Powell, Sonny Rollins, Jake La Motta, Studs Terkel, Bogart and Biggie Smalls.
What was your best dining experience in NYC?
Best of the Best: Per Se and Lespinasse when [Christian] Delouvrier was there, Ducasse.
With a nod to Milton Glaser, how much do you really love New York?
I owe this city my life. I arrived a kid from Philly and I am who I am thanks in great part to New York.
Of all the movies made about or highly associated with New York, what role would you have liked to be cast in?
William Powells part in My Man Godfrey.
If you could change one thing about New York, what would it be?
The city needs to value, build, preserve, and maintain affordable housing for the lower and middle classes or what’s left of us anyway.
The End of The World is finally happening. What are you going to do with your last 24 hours in NYC?
Walk uptown from Trinity Church via our oldest road, Broadway. Then cut north and east through the park to visit the Met, try and snag a table at Per Se or Jean Georges and watch the curtain come down from that perch.
Tonight he teaches Two Healthy 30-Minute Meals: Chicken and Fish and on Tuesday, May 29 he moderates a talk with Gael Greene, Arthur Schwartz, Tim Zagat and Jacques Pepin to discuss “Is New York Dining Really Better Than Ever?” All of his classes can be found here.
Previously: 92YQ Interviews