Chef Geoffrey Zakarian’s full plate of projects
Chef and restaurateur Geoffrey Zakarian’s career has whisked him off to locales like Paris and London, landed him in gastronomical mecca New York City and brought him into the TVs of kitchens across the country.
And that is merely the tasting menu version of this seasoned chef’s story.
Born in Worcester, MA, to Armenian and Polish parents, Zakarian currently operates no less than eight restaurant concepts, is a familiar foodie face on a handful of shows on The Food Network and also develops the kitchen storage line, Pro For Home, and stages a unique studio space for food in Manhattan.
All the while, Zakarian maintains the art of cooking as his first love.
“I just cook from my heart,” Zakarian says. “Though I learned classical French technique, I apply it with American sensibility and American products.”
New restaurants on the horizon include two in Hollywood, Florida—Point Royal and Counter Point; as well as successful restaurants Georgie and Garden Bar in Los Angeles; The National in Greenwich, Connecticut; The Lambs Club and The National Bar & Dining Rooms, both in New York City, and The Water Club in Atlantic City.
At Georgie and Garden Bar, both within the Montage Beverly Hills, the chef strives for technique-driven preparations.
“There are great cocktails and reimagined classics,” he says. “I particularly love the mixed hummus selection, the Mezze Trio and the Lobster Roll. Also, the tableside Martini Cart is truly special.”
Eaters who haven’t dined at one of Zakarian’s spots recognize him from The Food Network. He is a judge on the network’s top-rated show, Chopped, hosts Cooks vs. Cons and co-hosts The Kitchen along with culinary favorites Sunny Anderson, Katie Lee, Jeff Mauro and Marcela Valladolid.
His newest program, Cooks vs. Cons, sees home cooks battle with trained professionals, whose true identities are concealed, for a panel of judges.
“Most of them fool us, to be honest,” he says. “But there was one who was a garbage collector that really threw us for a loop.”
With his project, The Food Studio, Zakarian created a space to host custom events, while also accommodating film and photo shoots in an open kitchen in Manhattan.
“We have a unique space and we try to use it educationally, for teaching demos as well as for research,” he says.
In restaurants and on television, Zakarian displays his craft—which is based upon a love of satiating family, friends and guests.
“I love anything family style and I only cook in large format. It’s more fun and less fuss and my guests love it,” he says, adding his must-have kitchen ingredients include extra virgin olive oil, five pepper blend, red wine vinegar, sea salt and kosher salt.
As for up-and-coming chefs, Zakarian warns not to set sights on celebrity chef status too early—instead, focus on fundamentals and success will come in time.
“Arrive one hour early. Depart one hour late,” he says. “Work harder than anyone else. Period.”