Silent, Strong & Skilled
Executive Chef Rob Matthews
Bliss Restaurant of Setauket
Words: Marie Ann Mordeno
Photos: Denise Day
Rob Matthews, Executive Chef of Bliss Restaurant in Setauket has many facets to his busy life. father, chef and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu blue belt. Reluctant to visit the front of the house at Bliss, he holds court in the kitchen.
“I speak fluent Spanish, he proudly admits,” and then winks to Jose
and his co-workers. “This way they can’t talk about me in front of me.”
Obviously, there is camaraderie in this culinary space. Chef Matthews has been at Bliss in Setauket working for proprietor Ron Hoffman, for over three of the restaurant’s nine years. They work well together. Ron manages Bliss Restaurant and skillfully hosts the front of the house, while Rob flawlessly controls the kitchen.
Rob has catered weddings, showers and all types of events on and off premises.
His cuisine is considered French American, yet he can provide and excellent Pasta Bolognese and recently an Eggplant Cappanata appetizer. His menu can often be creative featuring Spaghetti Squash Goat Cheese Flatbread or a basic, but satisfying, Pork Loin with Sweet Potatoes as well as an inspired Chilean Sea Bass dish.
His mom, Carol Matthews has owned the Bridge Studio in Smithtown for years and he grew up around the game. His dad is an appraiser. Rob chose a different route.
“I used to play bridge as a kid, but now, I am not sure I can remember all the rules.”
He is very proud of his beautiful, nine year old, daughter Lea, who is in third grade. Cooking sessions with Lea are fun for Rob. Recently, he taught her to make a delicious Japanese dumpling called Gyoto.
His background is impressive. He knew he wanted to cook, watching The Frugal Gourmet at six years old. Graham Kerr was his idol and later, he was upset when a scandal broke. He was trained at the New York Tech Culinary Institute in Central Islip.
Chef Matthew’s resume includes a year under the tutelage of Guy Rouge
of Mirabelle’s in St. James, prior to its relocation at the Three Village Inn in Stony Brook. Guy, the only five star chef on Long Island, was an excellent mentor. Rob learned the roots of his culinary skills from him.
His experience also included time at Kitchen a’ Bistro in St. James with Eric Lamondo and at La Plage in Wading River with Wayne Waddington. Chef Matthews remembers a night at La Plage cooking for Christy Brinkley. He remembers that she was breathtakingly beautiful and ordered Salmon.
Rob will never forget one night working at The Country House in Stony Brook, which is touted to be haunted,
“I really did not believe it until one night, I was cleaning up the kitchen alone and I heard a woman’s blood curdling scream. I thought I was hearing things, until I heard it again. I ran out of the restaurant believing. There were stories about her turning music on and off and towels flying around.”
There is little time for dating and dining in his busy schedule, but he manages to fit in time with his daughter and his sport, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. This is his avocation. It takes dedication and perseverance to obtain a blue belt.
“I attend the Kioto Academy, which specializes in Martial Arts. The Japanese introduced Jiu Jitsu and the Brazilians improved on it. It is a sport that keeps one in good shape and is ground fighting based on leverage. The highest ranking is Francisco Mansur. You wear a Gi, a kimono top with pants, belted in white, black or blue, depending on your skill.”
Still at the beginning of his culinary career, Chef Matthews hopes to one day own a Breakfast/Lunch place. This would allow free time for his sport and his family especially Lea. If I had the time, I would dine at Eric Ripert’s, Le Bernardin and Thomas Keller’s, Per Se. I like cuisine clean and simple.
Chef Rob Matthews comes with good experience and loves to cook. His future appears bright. Visit him and taste his cuisine at Bliss Restaurant on 25A in Setauket. Ron Hoffman will greet you and seat you. Rob will attend to your dinner. They are a perfect match.
For reservations and more information on Bliss Restaurant, go to www.blissli.com or call 631-941-0430.
Weathering the storm together at a local hotel
Nemo, one of the largest
snowstorms to hit this area,
brought many people together at
our local Holiday Inn Express in
Stony Brook. Let me share some
of their stories.
A couple had driven from Florida
and arrived just before the storm
for a happy occasion: to celebrate a
special birthday and their son’s engagement.
They found themselves
at the Holiday Inn Express, sheltered
from the storm but unable to
go to the son’s home 1.5 miles away.
He was unable to drive to them; no
one had plowed his street. So Friday,
Saturday and Sunday found
themselves separated by the snow.
Tickets to a Broadway show and a
New York City excursion, all canceled.
On Monday, they were able
to join their son. Hooray! His street
There was a young mother who
had picked up her child from day
care after a day’s work and felt very
unsafe on the roads after getting
stuck twice. She very wisely felt she
should find shelter. Her husband
could not come to pick her up until
Sunday, as roads were impassable.
Then there was a lovely German
family. The son, a Stony Brook
University student, was scheduled
to play a large tennis tournament
at the university, which, of course,
was canceled. The parents travelled
from Germany to cheer him on,
instead they spent their time at the
Holiday Inn Express playing cards,
swimming and just being together.
Saturday night someone called
my name — it was a good friend of
mine, Marie. In her home without
heat or electricity and with snow
piling up outside, she was rescued
by Bliss Restaurant owner Ron.
She stayed safe and sound for two
days at the hotel.
Sunday night, Roberta came
to the Holiday Inn Express with
her husband, as she had no heat
at her home. Roberta is a musician
known in the area and plays
with Peter Duchin. We asked her
to play and were treated to a spontaneous
concert; much appreciated
after all the anxieties everyone
had. Unknowing to Roberta,
a woman arrived whose husband
had just passed away. Her family
was unable to be with her at this
very difficult time due to the crippling
snowstorm. She mentioned
to me the next day how the music
Two sisters from Connecticut
were visiting their brother who was
a patient at Stony Brook University
Hospital. They left their own families
and were caught in the storm,
making their stay longer. They
spent the extra time with their
brother and then helped people by
digging out cars for some residents.
From the university hospital
some nurses arrived after working
double shifts; Gloria, Belle and
Kim were exhausted after many
long hours. With a smile on their
faces, they encouraged and bolstered
the spirits of all they met.
Their own homes were on roads
not yet plowed and some had no
heat and they didn’t want to take
a chance and miss their next shift.
We welcomed them to the group.
Arlene and her husband, Richard,
who is disabled and in a
wheelchair, came to the Holiday
Inn Express when they heard how
much snow was expected. Veterans
of Hurricane Sandy, they
had spent 12 days at the Inn during
that time. They were very well
cared for with a disabled room on
the first floor.
As we walked in to register, a
friendly young lady held the door
for us. I later learned her name
was Angie. She had been called
to stay through the storm. Over
the next three days, this gem of
an employee was busy creating
breakfasts and putting residents
at ease, being very helpful. When
we registered, Stephen was at
the desk. He greeted in such
a friendly manner and for the
next three days was doing any
job that would help things run
well. Another great employee,
Lenny, was the handyman on
duty. A knight in shining armor,
this one man tried to keep
everything running smoothly.
Never losing his temper, always
pleasant, he tried to keep up with
Nemo’s snow. Cars were buried
in snow; it covered the walkway.
Lenny did a great job of putting
things back in order.
Brought together by Nemo,
we became a small community
of people who cared about each
other. Sharing stories and passing
time until we once again resumed
our daily routines.
The author is a resident of
South Old Field. Her street was
plowed Tuesday and she was hoping
to return home by
Notes on the Musician
Small Town Girl + Talent =
Singer, Songwriter & Musician
Words by: Morgan Malloy
Andrea Daly is, anything but, a small town girl. Her go-getter attitude and eagerness to experience the world musically, belies this idea. Hailing from Michigan, she is certainly being spotlighted from Long Island to New York City, as a singer, songwriter and musician. Her most recent adventure involves putting together a full-length album.
There is something very genuine about Andrea Daly and her passion for her vocation is to be admired. From singing in the basement of her Michigan home to madrigal choirs, she has put her all into her voice. As a result, she suffered from vocal nodules in college. That did not stop her.
I have been inolved in music most of my life, from piano lessons at five to the experience of singing with the Blue Lake International Choral Ensemble in Europe during high school. Then a decade later, after living in France and traveling around Europe, I continued to pursue my interest in classical composition.
As an avid traveler and culture enthusiast, Andrea has soaked up all the eccentricities in music. She continues her classical training at the University of Stony Brook and was recently invited to attend the prestigious 2012 Mercer Songwriters Project in Chicago.
Daly’s most recent EP, Moving Through This, was released this year and marked a turning point for the young artist.
The process of putting a record together is difficult, but the experience of recording at Quad Studios in Times Square, although intense, was awesome. I kept a quote book of some of the hilarious things the crew said, when we were really tired. My most recent release is a demo of new tunes, just called, “Demo”, released in April 2012.
Lyrically, Andrea’s music speaks for itself. Clever quips and perfect percussion are reminiscent of artists she admires; Regina Spektor and Sara Bareilles. Each component of her musical training and life experiences is manifest in her songs, especially in her recently released demos. One of her recent songs, ”Emily Jane”, acts as a metanarrative commenting on our technological age.
People are so caught up in a world that is artificial, that they are not fully invested in the real one around them.
Walk the Wire
Lyrics by Andrea Daly
I will put up a good fight.
Agonize until its just right.
Cause I don’t want to end up just like everybody else.
I learned to let my walls come down.
But won’t say that I’m the one that’s falling.
And anything you say, I will do.
Anything you say!
Walk the wire, if you want me to!
Andrea Daly continues to pursue her dream of singing and performing from Long Island to NYC. You may find her recording little tidbits of songs on her phone, writing in a notebook on the Subway, or simply humming a familiar tune. Walk the Wire is and original song that resonates with her fans and is just a sample of her songbook.
One must learn to put themselves out there. All different platforms can get your music heard. You have to dedicate time. If I am not writing, then I am not doing the thing that I am most passionate about.
The Andrea Daly Project, consisting of Andrea on vocals and keyboard, Ben Brewer on bass and acoustic guitar and George Barbera on electric guitar, performed at the former, Os Wine and Food Bar in St. James and at The Wave at Danford’s Marina in Port Jefferson. They also played corporate events and private parties, as well as gigs in small clubs and restaurants.
This is just the beginning. Remember her name! Listen to her voice!There are great things in store for this multifaceted musician. If you are lucky, you will catch her at a venue, playing the piano and singing her original music, as well as many of your favorites.
Andrea is taking a hiatus until January, when she completes her graduate studies. Keep checking her website, www.andreadaly.com and yougogirllongisland.com for her next performance dates.
TOAST in Port Jefferson
TWO BLONDES AND A STOVE in Huntington
MAUREEN’S KITCHEN in Smithtown
ROLLING PIN in Bayshore
Photo by Tracey Elizabeth taken at Roots Bistro Gourmand which is a restaurant that serves a great cappuccino, but is not just a JAVA JOINT.
Sure, there is a Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts everywhere! But why not try something different, you won’t be disappointed. There are many more! Post your favorite JAVA JOINT! Tell where it is and what you order and enjoy the most about the place.
Presentation is equally as important as taste. Scroll down for a tour of the Roots Bistro Gourmand experience by Tracey Elizabeth, photographer.
Baby Vegetable Summer Salad
House Truffle Pappardelle
Pop Rock Dessert
A Dream Come True
Roots Bistro Gourmand
Words: Marie Ann Mordeno Photos: Tracey Elizabeth
Philippe Corbet, with a certain whimsy, saunters out of the kitchen to greet you. Although the French accent is there, he has become quite an American; a chef and business man. It was always his dream to own his own restaurant and now thanks to serendipity and his new partner, James Orlandi, that dream is a reality. They are co-owners of the recently opened, Roots Bistro Gourmand on Montauk Highway in West Islip.
Corbet hails from Chambery, France in the Savoir French Alps. He visits his mom and family, when he can. The culinary field seemed his destiny, since his grandfather and brother were chefs. His uncle was a pastry chef and his mom loved to cook.
At seventeen, he knew that culinary school was for him. Philippe studied at Le Fontaille in St. Albans. He was a Stage (apprentice) for Georges Blanc at his restaurant, working three weeks and studying one week. This prepared him well for his career.
In 2001, a friend, working in East Quogue, invited him to come to the states to work. Philippe remembers his hesitation to leave France. Only three weeks after the call, his apartment house burned down.
The decision was made for me and I came to Long Island. I began as a sous chef for Christophe Breton at the Stone Creek Inn in East Quogue, and eventually became Executive Chef.
After working for celebrity chef, David Bouley for a year, he came back out to the island as Executive Chef at Oscar’s in St. James. Later, it turned into Os Wine and Food Bar. Corbet enjoyed his time there and developed a loyal following.
Hawaii would be my dream vacation.
This remark was treated skeptically by the staff in earshot. A vacation will not be on the agenda for awhile.
I met James Orlandi, when he came to work at Os. We worked well together. He trained at the French Culinary Institute under Jean Georges. There is a certain pride and freedom that comes with ownership.
From the moment you pull up to the century old building, formerly the Parkwood Cafe’, the transformation is evident. The design is all new, but the history and charm of the structure remain. Every detail of design, from the furniture to the china, has been carefully executed. Wood tables are set simply with jelly jar candles and menus are artfully tucked into cloth napkins. The chairs are black with cane seats. The sleek kitchen is in view from the bar. From the zinc bar to the tin ceilings, the design is casual, yet elegant.
Rooted in the Bistronomic Revolution of French Cuisine, Roots Bistro Gourmand pays homage to the simplicity of the modest Bistro, while infusing gastronomic techniques. This mission is clearly stated on a chalk board as one enters the dining room.
We want to serve really good food in a casual atmosphere. Everything is house made that can be like breads, pastas, desserts and even ice cream. We take special pride in our desserts.
Highlights of the menu include an extensive selections of cheese and charcuterie that go well with the many wine choices by the glass or bottle. Vegetable Terrine, Poached Egg with Creamy Polenta, Garden Inspired Ravioli, Marseille Bouillabaisse, Moules Frites were on the menu at our visit. So were items like Dry Aged Ribeye, Chicken Breast and Poached Lobster.
I am a chef and I love to cook, but the customer’s palate is my business. If they want a burger or steak, it is on the menu and I am pleased to make it well.
Black and white striped aprons and logo printed gift certificates arrived to everyone’s delight. James and Philippe, the Orlandi family, Emily Corso, Manager, Pierre Ibanez, Assistant Manager and the rest of the staff are enthusiastic members of the Roots team.
It is easy to work with people I know, especially my partner, James. I know what I can expect of them and they know how I work.
Philippe has found a home at Roots Bistro Gourmand on the South Shore, a distance from St. James and even farther from Chambery. Philippe and James have opened an inviting restaurant with excellent food and wines, in a perfect location, just a few blocks from Babylon Village. For more info: www.rootsli.com or call for a reservation 631-587-2844