When we first met Six Three One chef Kal Dellaportas in July he stated, “I want to bring Southold something it doesn’t have.”
Now that the new Southold restaurant has been in business for a few months, Dellaportas is keeping his word and sharing some of his secrets. We caught up with him for a quick Q&A.
How did you get into cooking?
Even though I grew up around the food industry my whole life, I didn’t really have a calling for it until I was much older. It was actually a meal that spurred my interest in becoming a chef—sushi to be exact. I was practically force fed an ingredient I thought I would hate and ended up loving. It really showed me how a well put together meal could be an experience.
Did you study cooking?
In the study of cooking I give a lot of credit to my father. Even before attending the French Culinary Institute in Manhattan, he taught me how to bake cakes and make soups for our diner. The blend of speed, efficiency and cost from my father and the precision and elegance of the French style of cooking I feel really defines me as a chef.
What is your signature dish?
Surprisingly enough, it’s a sandwich. Roasted lamb with homemade feta, kalamata olive tapenade and vine-ripened tomatoes on a charred pita. It’s definitely homage to both my culinary background and my ethnic background. Each ingredient is prepared meticulously. The lamb is slow cooked and then charred for each sandwich. The feta is made with fresh milk over two days. The tapenade is made with a mortar and pestle. The sandwich is put together and drizzled with olive oil.
What is your secret/favorite ingredient to cook with?
I would say that onions would be one of my favorite ingredients. It’s so versatile and flavorful. It’s used in stocks, in sauces, as a garnish. There sure so many applications for onions.
Who are your culinary heroes?
My culinary heroes definitely include Bobby Flay and Danny Meyer. Two individuals who have built up a culinary empire by giving great food and treating their employees right.
If you had 30 minutes to create a tasty meal, what would it be?
Chicken Cordon Bleu. Virginia ham and Swiss wrapped with chicken and covered in creamy Alfredo sauce and mushrooms. Simple. Elegant and super rich and delicious. I would serve it with handmade pasta, time permitting.
Do you do all the cooking at home as well?
Unfortunately I do not cook at home. My long day at the restaurant doesn’t allow me time to prepare any meals at home. I do, however, try to invite a whole bunch of friends over at least three to four times a year and do a themed dinner: Southern, Italian, Greek, etc.
When you eat out, where you do dine or what do you order?
I do occasionally eat out. I love discovering new places and new foods, whether it’s a small hole in the wall or a five-star restaurant. I usually over-order just so I can try as much of the menu as possible in one sitting.