Hell’s Kitchen: Benjamin Knack


Benjamin Knack
Hometown: Elmont, NY
Occupation: Culinary Instructor, Malden, MA

What was your first job in a kitchen?
My first job in a kitchen was at a restaurant in Long Island, NY called Big Barry’s, a Texas barbecue restaurant. I started off as a busboy, but soon moved up to the glorious position of fry cook. Big Barry’s big draw was “dime wing nights.” On those days, I would fry up to one hundred pounds of wings. A successful chef learns best by working their way up and having as many kitchen posts in the process. This one was memorable.

What is your signature dish?
A dish I truly love and may be my signature dish is Pan Roasted Halibut with Cherry Tomato Salad, Charred Corn and Tomato Emulsion. Simple, delicate and fresh. But ask me next week, and my answer is likely to change!

Who was your first cooking inspiration?
Undoubtedly my mother, who always prepared fresh food for our family. We had a small garden in our backyard from which she would pull cherry and beefsteak tomatoes for salads and pasta. Our backyard also had some greens, green beans and blackberry bushes that my mom would raid on Sundays for our French toast. My mother was eager to show me what she was doing in the kitchen and always allowed me to lend a hand. In addition to having been an inspiration for me in the dishes I prepare, I feel my mother also passed along to me her love for teaching others in the kitchen. Today, some of those same teachings my mother shared are replayed when I cook with my daughter, Ella Maria.

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