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5 Questions for Chef Petrillo

You may recognize our Executive Chef Vinson Petrillo from Food Network’s Chopped where he swept the competition away in a fierce culinary battle. But, that accolade is just an accouterment to his expansive resume. From the family kitchen to the hottest haunts in New York, Chef Petrillo brings his passion for sustainable, contemporary cuisine to Zero Café + Bar.

Vinson 3 Images in a RowWhat fall ingredients are inspiring you right now?

Right now local hosui pears and muscadine grapes are ripe and delicious. Butternut squash is such a subtle ingredient, but if treated correctly, it caramelizes and brings out its inherent sweetness. I use butternut squash in my caramelized butternut agnolotti with hen of the woods mushrooms, crispy kale and pine nut emulsion.

What’s your favorite dish on the menu at Zero Café + Bar?

The menu changes so often, but I will always have an octopus dish on my menu. Right now it is my favorite. The octopus is pressure cooked for only 17 minutes and finished charred on the grill. Local marble potatoes are slow cooked in squid ink until tended on the outside and black like little coals on the surface. Spanish chorizo is rendered till very dry and turned into a soil like powder. Piquillo peppers and chorizo oil mixed with a little sherry  vinegar and great olive oil make the delicious sauce and the dish is finished with fresh parsley.

How has your cooking style changed since moving back to Charleston from New York?

My cooking style will always remain the same. I’m a purist. I try and make each and every ingredient stand out but at the same time balance off each other to create a composition of flavors. I source out the very best ingredients and transform them into flavorful elements for the main ingredient. The only challenge is when I’m in NYC I have every great ingredient at my fingertips at any moment. Charleston makes you work a bit harder, the seasons are much more harsh bearing little produce in the summer and making menu development much more challenging

Your passion for food started at a young age in the family kitchen. What are your favorite family recipes?

Family has always been the biggest part of my life. My father’s eggplant Parmesan is probably the best thing that has entered my mouth.

What’s your favorite way to enjoy Charleston on a day off from work?

My favorite way to enjoy my day off is brunch with my wife followed by a walk on the beach with my two French bulldogs Vito and Parker.

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