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Alfred PortaleIn a city known for its skyscrapers, Alfred Portale's food at the famed Gotham Bar and Grill mirrors New York's architecture: His towering plates are as legendary for their complex presentations as for their complex flavors.

Portale's interest in food was piqued by reading Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking; his subsequent career change from jewelry designer to world-class chef began with an education at the Culinary Institute of America, where he graduated first in his class in 1981. For three years Portale worked with some of France's most renowned chefs — Michel Guerard, the brothers Troisgros, and Jacques Maximin — during which time he continued to refine and master classical French technique. As he gained experience, a personal style evolved, and Portale became one of the founders of New American Cuisine.

Eager to share his wealth of knowledge and creativity back in New York, Portale became chef at the Gotham Bar and Grill, which was first awarded three stars by the New York Times in 1986, a feat it has since repeated.

Influenced by his mother, who learned Italian cooking from her mother and then adapted it to American ingredients, Portale borrows from several cultures to infuse his dishes with a wide range of flavors.

In 1992 Portale opened a seafood restaurant to fill the city's gap between high-end and cheap-eats seafood offerings. One Fifth Avenue became New York's seafood restaurant of choice, supplied daily by a salmon farm and by a fisherman in Maine. In his seafood dishes, Portale combines the gutsy flavors of the Mediterranean and the abundance of the Atlantic coast with the technical flourishes of France.

Whether visiting relatives in his hometown of Buffalo, N.Y., or at home with his wife and family, Portale is never far away from the kitchen. He is actively involved in charities dedicated to providing food for the needy, such as Share Our Strength and Citymeals-on-Wheels, and has participated in the American Chefs and Winemakers' Tribute to James Beard and Wolfgang Puck's Annual American Food and Wine Festival. In 1990 he was given the Ivy Award by the respected trade magazine Restaurants & Institutions.

Example recipes:


Hardcover - 400 pages (October 17, 2000)
Broadway Books; ISBN: 0767906063
To purchase click here

12 Seasons review
Alfred Portale is one of our foremost chefs. His cooking at Manhattan's Gotham Bar and Grill is widely acclaimed for its refined yet down-to-earth deliciousness. "When it comes to cooking," Portale says, "there are 12 seasons," a truth his 12 Seasons Cookbook explores in bountiful detail. Reflecting that each month embodies its own seasonal and psychological moment, and therefore makes its own demands in the kitchen, he presents more than 100 recipes matched to the culinary calendar. Though many of these require a cooking workout, a sufficient number are simple enough for most cooks to try when the mood strikes.

Portale characterizes the months. November means Thanksgiving and December Christmas, and for these he provides recipes like Pumpkin and Sweet Garlic Custards and Lamb Chops and Truffled Mashed Potatoes. The depths of February require a little "culinary sunshine" in the form of Lemon Risotto with Spot Prawns, among other dishes, while May is "the big bang of the culinary year," a rebirth celebrated with dishes including Grilled Soft-Shell Crabs with Asparagus, New Potatoes, and a Lemon-Caper Vinaigrette. July is "birthdays and barbecues"--Montauk Chowder salutes this height of summer--while September signals a return to school and work, demanding "recipes for busy times" such as Orichette with Chicken, Swiss Chard, and Reggiano Parmigiano. A wide range of dessert recipes, such as Coconut Panna Cotta, are also included. Throughout, Portale offers "flavor building" ideas for dressing up recipes, "thinking ahead" notes for staggering preparation, and dish variation suggestions. With 150 illustrations, thematic menus, what-to-drink advice, and a section on basics like stocks, the book presents a culinary calendar that works for year-round dining enjoyment. --Arthur Boehm

Book Description
"When it comes to cooking, there are twelve seasons," says Alfred Portale, the world-renowned chef of the Gotham Bar and Grill restaurant. To him, each month is a season unto itself--not just because crucial ingredients peak at different points during the traditional four seasons, but also because each month carries with it a unique set of emotions and associations.

Alfred Portale's 12 Seasons Cookbook takes the home cook on a deeply personal journey through the year in food. Many chapters are...

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