Dublin-born chef Darren Pettigrew was trained in London at the Da Vere Grand Connaught Rooms and grew up working in the kitchens of New York. Throughout his career he has donned the stove at countless established restaurants in New York honing his skills in the kitchen and continually pushing the envelope with more creative takes on everyday dishes. He previously owned seafood restaurant Stella Maris at the South Street Seaport for five years. He also spent a number of years working with famed restaurateurs Peter and Harry Poulakakos at their Financial District properties. Now he serves as the Executive Chef for the SRP NYC restaurant group, developing innovative menus for their various concepts.
Alfie’s Bar & Kitchen, the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood favorite that just celebrated its eight-year anniversary, spotlights a brand-new and refreshed New American Gastro Pub menu from new Executive Chef Darren Pettigrew. The restaurant is owned by seasoned restaurateur, Sean Hayden, whose career spans 25 years and serves as a partner of the SRP NYC restaurant group that operates Valerie, Dalton’s, and Jasper’s Tap House & Kitchen. Hayden saw a need to create a true restaurant experience for the community and was the first to bring a more sophisticated American kitchen to the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood. Now Chef Pettigrew will be providing Alfie’s beloved customers with an inspired dining experience complete with elevated New American dishes, spotlighting locally sourced organic ingredients.
Broadwayworld.com had the pleasure on interviewing Chef Pettigrew about his career and Alfie’s Bar & Kitchen for our “Chef Spotlight.”
What was your earliest interest in cooking?
My earliest interest in cooking was making apple pies as a kid with my mother. Playing with dough made with lard and helping to peel Irish crab apples. The native crab apple grows wildly amongst the wild hedge rows and woodlands of Ireland. Probably the most bitter fruit I’ve ever tasted but makes for a great pie!
Who were some of your career mentors?
I’ve been very fortunate to have had many real mentors and talented people to help guide me throughout my career. Starting with Chef Cormac Healy at the National Yacht Club of Ireland. Chef Eric Lind; Chef Ebhenhart Mullers my left hand man, formerly of Lutece. Most recently, Master Chef Rich Rosendale.
What culinary styles have influenced your career?
I’m classically trained, so certainly French, Italian and Spanish, but a recent trip to Japan has turned the way I think about food on its head. Japanese food is very simplistic and pure in essence, but extraordinarily difficult to execute. I trained with a great group of Japanese chefs in rural Japan at the dream lab. Their dedication, technique and precision was something to be admired.
What do you consider the most distinguishing feature of your work as a chef?
Reforming totally new teams, learning to be more resilient and understanding how to constantly adapt to a forever changing landscape. In addition to learn how to handle all the other curve balls being thrown at us week in and week out.
The ability to find young talent and good characters. Be able to lift them up, train and mentor them to the best of my ability. Give them survival tools so that they can continue on and move forward on their culinary journey. The cool thing about food is that the learning is infinite, whether it’s a new ingredient, new technique, or piece of equipment.
I’m blessed for the team we have at Alfie’s Bar & Kitchen. From our Director of Marketing Jillian Lockhart, who has been super-aggressive with our social media platforms, so our page is always busy and very impressive. Gabi and Jose, Adrian and Angel. We got the maestro Marshall slinging cocktail, even owner Sean Hayden rolled up his sleeves from the beginning. The food, drinks and service have been top notch. It’s all due to great teamwork during a period of uncertainty in the business. We’re all just trying to stay positive and come out the other side successful.
What has been some of the recent feedback for Alfie’s Bar & Kitchen?
The feedback from our clientele has been great! I believe that they appreciate that we are a scratch kitchen, serving restaurant food in a pub in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen. New American, elevated comfort food is what we are all about. All of our ingredients are very carefully sourced and basically, we are buying the best stuff out there that you can taste on your plate! We all stand behind our product.
Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?
Lastly I have something to share from a wish man, an Irishman, fellow Dubliner playwright and poet, George Bernard Shaw. “THERE IS NO LOVE MORE SINCERER, THAN THE LOVE OF FOOD!”
Alfie’s Bar & Kitchen is located at 800 9th Avenue, New York, NY 10019. For more information, visit: https://www.alfiesnyc.com/ or call 212.757.2390.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Executive Chef Darren Pettigrew