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Compliments Of The Chef

Rein offers guests an inside look

Have you ever wondered what goes on in the kitchen of your favorite restaurants? Is it like Hell’s Kitchen where dishes and curses fly? Is everyone furiously chopping while fire from the ovens roars? Are they just microwaving your entrees?

Rein invites you to find out.

The Chef’s Table is a new monthly dinner series being held by the Garden City Hotel and its restaurant, Rein. The event gives guests the opportunity to leave their chairs at the eatery’s dinner table and go behind the scenes into the kitchen, as they watch Chef Michael Mandato and his team prepare a five-star meal. Diners can interact with the chef and hotel’s upper management, as they sit down to an intimate multi-course meal that is both elaborate and delicious.

Hotel manager Grady Colin says that the Chef’s Table is unique in that it reflects the chef’s most current aspirations, what’s in season, and skills being developed in the Rein kitchen. The wide selection of dishes represents what is currently available to diners, as well as future potential menu options.  

And while many restaurants may cringe at the thought of letting patrons see their kitchens, Colin welcomes the opportunity for transparency.

“The experience introduces guests to the inner workings of a professional world class kitchen and showcases the coordination between stations, strict organization and attention to cleanliness that we are proud to reveal,” Colin said.

The hotel rolled out its inaugural event last week and from the beginning, Chef Mandato impressed. Servers walked around offering guests delicious bite-sized appetizers such as bacon-wrapped scallops, breaded crab cakes with guacamole, and prosciutto-wrapped asparagus with truffle aioli.

Guests then sat down at two elegantly dressed tables in the kitchen for a four-course meal. Succulent pork belly, Maine lobster, quail breast and lamb were all on the menu and the night was topped off with a light, flavorful passion fruit raspberry pavlova meringue. All of the courses were paired perfectly with wines that brought out the flavors of the food.

Chef Mandato joined the Garden City Hotel team in the beginning of December, and Chef’s Table is just one of the ways he has made dining more approachable. Colin notes that menu items are now more recognizable, and people know what to expect when their dish comes out.

“People need to understand what the items are when they read them, not be perplexed by them. Chef Mandato seeks to impress our diners with wholesome and thoughtful preparations of regionally based ingredients. So far the response has been very positive and we’re seeing familiar faces return to enjoy new favorites,” Colin said.  

Mandato brings with him 31 years of culinary experience. He has cooked all over the world, and has even prepared meals for the Queen of England and Duke of Edinburgh while he was executive chef at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge in Alberta. He spent several years conjuring up dishes at New York’s top restaurants, as well as the The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis and the Taj Boston. All these experiences shape the way he operates in the kitchen and the meals he creates, but the needs of Rein diners still is most important.

“The products, techniques and cultural experiences I gained from living in different areas allow me to share it through the menus I create. My food is wholesome, cooking with seasonal ingredients and using classic techniques while considering the expectations of our guests and not confusing them with complex descriptions,” Mandato says.

Those looking for a fine dining experience can come to Rein knowing that they will be served the freshest ingredients. Mandato, who is a Long Island native, is passionate about using seasonal, local ingredients and providing a meal experience that’s akin to a family dinner table.

“My greatest memories and experiences evolve around my family and eating together. I would like our guests to have that same experience. The food can be the catalyst that creates that,” Mandato said.

The hotel is hoping to host its next Chef’s Table event later this month or early next April. Exact dates and more information will be posted at gardencityhotel.com.