Peter X. Kelly
Restaurant: The Xaviars Restaurant Group, which includes X20 Xaviars on the Hudson in Yonkers, Xaviars at Piermont, Freelance Cafe & Wine Bar in Piermont, Restaurant X & Bully Boy Bar in Congers. His first restaurant, Xaviars at Garrison, opened in 1983 and closed in 2002.
Born: June 3, 1959 in Yonkers
Grew up: Yonkers then Croton on Hudson
Culinary School: Self-taught.
Experience: Started out washing dishes at a little German Restaurant where everything was made in house. Worked at a number of fine dining establishments in the front of the house (loved those tuxedos) learned a great deal about food and wine at a very young age. Opened my first restaurant at 23 years old.
Cooking style or philosophy: Contemporary. My style is rooted in the classics. I look at a dish that is classic and work to tweak or reinvent it in some manner. I like to explore cultural differences in cuisine and bring a new technique or flavor to a given dish without completely obliterating the original intent. My thought process in cooking is always guided by the dining room chair. I am most concerned when working on a new menu item, that the guest will enjoy the dish.
Why we chose him: Kelly has been a pioneer in the region, and was one of the first to support local farmers and artisans. He’s show legions of diners what it is to experience fine dining, and also adapts his menu and service to meet the definition of that as it changes over the years.
How he keeps it fresh: I am inspired by new products and better ingredients that are more readily available than they were 25 years ago. I am inspired by youth and the way they view cuisine and dining. And I am inspired by the chance to introduce new and younger clientele to a world of dining and hospitality that they may not have yet experienced.
Advice for the new chefs: Let the quality of product motivate you to showcase it. Respect what has come before you and make it better. Walk before you run and lead by example. Cuisine is an evolution it should be a measured thoughtful process to present an experience that allows the ultimate guest to relax.
Photo by Peter Carr/TJN.