GREENWICH, Conn. -- With the Greenwich Wine + Food Festival coming up later this month (it runs Sept. 23 to 24), we went to Gregori Peña , chef at The National in Greenwich and an "2016 Innovative Chef" for his thoughts.
Daily Voice: What does being named a "2016 Innovative Chef" mean to you?
Gregori Peña : I am honored to be named an innovative chef, but I share that honor with my whole team. It gives me great satisfaction that The National is pushing the food boundaries in Greenwich.
DV: What kind of dish or dishes will you prepare at Greenwich Wine + Food? And is this your first time at Festival?
GP: It's our first time participating in the Festival, and we are thrilled to be a part of it. We will be preparing a Spanish Octopus Salad for the event - it's light, but packs a punch of flavor, which is perfect for the still-warm September weather.
DV: Do you have a favorite ingredient and if so, what is it?
GP: Sorrel - both the European as well as the Caribbean varieties. The European variety has a lovely citrus finish that can complete any dish and works well in sauces. The Caribbean variety, in the same family as hibiscus, has a more earthy finish, and can be used in both cocktails and culinary applications.
DV: Where do you get your cooking inspiration?
GP: I get cooking inspiration everywhere; Cocktails that I drink, reading old cookbooks, and just having conversations with my fellow cooks and sous chefs.
DV: What would people be surprised to know about your restaurant?
GP: People who have never been to our restaurant should know that we source the best products and alter them as little as possible so we really highlight and elevate the ingredients. We believe that using the highest quality products, making almost everything in-house and using classic techniques is the way to succeed.