Dish in Mahopac recently turned 4 years old, which is certainly a milestone in the restaurant business. This is a well-earned success for chef/owner Hannah Hopkins who has put her heart and soul into every corner of this quaint little restaurant.
Patrice Costa here, guest blogging while Liz is vacationing, and I know that this milestone doesn’t come as a big surprise for Hannah’s loyal customers who follow her daily specials on Dish’s website and Facebook page. We love the comforting atmosphere she has created where local, seasonal ingredients dominate the menu. She was even elevated to somewhat of a celebrity chef last year when she competed on Food Network’s Chopped. After all this, imagine my surprise when she told me about her plans to sell. Selfishly, I thought, “Who will satisfy my cravings for crepes, mussels or rosti?” However, once she shared the details, I knew that Dish (and my cravings) would be in good hands. Let me tell you all about Dish’s new owners, Eileen and Georges Zidi.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Eileen Zidi last week, and an hour into my conversation with her, I knew I had made a new friend. The story of her and her husband, Georges, is simply heartwarming. They met at the acclaimed French restaurant, Maxim de Paris, in Eileen’s hometown of Chicago. He was in the kitchen, while she worked part time at the champagne & caviar bar. Together they made their way to New York where Georges brought his culinary talents as Executive Chef to exclusive hotels and country clubs like New York’s Princeton Club and Burning Tree Country Club in Greenwich. Due to his classic training in French kitchens, he is calm, patient and organized in his approach to cooking. He’s described as the type of chef that easily develops loyalty and love from his staff. This is very apparent in Hannah’s sentiment that Georges is “her own personal Jacques Pépin.” They have been working side by side during the transition of ownership; and although they come from different generations, Eileen sees a commonality between them in their style and passion to create simply good food. For Hannah, what Georges will bring to Dish is “classics with a modern twist.”
For the past 20 years, Eileen has been cultivating her front of the house skills at Peter Pratt’s Inn. She has worked closely with chef/owner Jonathan Pratt and previously with his mother, Janet Pratt. The interesting twist though is that Eileen is also a farmer. She was the “I” in I & Me Farm in Bedford, with partner Mimi Edelman, and has also farmed at Cabbage Hill Farm in Mt. Kisco.
(Mimi and Eileen at their I&Me Farm last October, by Mark Vergari. Here’s a link to Bill Cary’s In the Garden blog, with a post about their farm and others being helped by the Westchester Land Trust.)
It is Eileen’s farming philosophy of “always grow what you love” that will be a main component on the menu at Dish. Her love of seasonal, fresh ingredients is infectious, and she invites Dish’s patrons to celebrate produce that was just plucked out of the ground that morning. Farm to table is not a new concept for her – she just doesn’t know any other way.
When asked what is next for Dish, Eileen replied, “Why change something that works.” So, there’s no need to worry about our menu favorites like rosti or crepes since they will continue to be on the menu right alongside enticing daily specials.
While Hannah is ready to begin her next adventure (I can’t wait to see where that will take her!), Georges and Eileen’s dream of owning a restaurant of their very own is just beginning. They are very excited to share their journey with us. It brings Eileen “sincere happiness when friends and family come together to celebrate the moment over food and wine.” Whether you are a regular or a new customer, interested in lunch or dinner, please take my advice and go visit Dish. I’m certain that your dining experience will be something special, and like me, I’m sure you will leave as a friend.
Curious about what’s on the menu at Dish? Read all about my delicious lunch in my upcoming guest blog post.