By Corina Santoro
Drew Philpchick of O’Slattery’s Irish Restaurant & Pub is the featured chef at Delmar Farmers Market’s popular Market 2 Plate live cooking demo on Saturday, June 10. I spoke to him to find out a little about how he became a chef.
Drew grew up in Bethlehem. And it was here, working as a dishwasher at the Beverwyck retirement community that started him on his food journey. From dishwashing he moved to serving, and over time, general hospitality. His two years at the Beverwyck heavily influenced his decision to go to SUNY Plattsburgh and study hotel, restaurant, and tourism management. Throughout college he held jobs at different kitchens, and it was the experiences in those kitchens where he found and really began developing his craft.
This is a common theme I find when talking to chefs. Food is not simply food to them. It is an art form; an expression. In listening to Drew, I hear the same passion. Drew returned to Albany and worked at Ama Cocina before joining O’Slattery’s. When the opportunity to become head chef opened up, he took it. “Because I love what we do. I love the food we create. I think Delmar could use some really, really great Irish cuisine and I think I can make my mark!”
If you’ve eaten at O’Slattery’s you know that he’s already begun, but if not, Drew gives me an example: the spin he ads to their signature fish and chips. Sure, you can have the traditional dish if you like. But you might try a wrap, where cod has been deep-fried and bundled with grilled vegetables and a tangy homemade roasted red pepper aioli. The result is something quite unlike the original fish and chips one expects from Irish fare.
When I discuss with Drew what attracted him to cooking he tells me it’s the freedom, the freedom to create whatever you’re feeling at the moment. “Cooking is such an intimate thing,” he says. “You can really do anything with it! You take common ingredients and turn them into something truly your own.” And of course, the satisfaction of knowing people are enjoying your food is pretty rewarding as well.
See Drew at the Market 2 Plate cooking demo this Saturday. You’ll be delighted by both his passion and his food. “Being a chef, it’s more than just cooking. It’s creating.”