Bay Ridge chef youngest to be inducted into Culinary Hall of Fame
BY MEAGHAN MCGOLDRICK
One Bay Ridge chef has made it to the big leagues – of food, that is.
Chef Vincent Tropepe – owner and operator of the borough’s first restaurant consulting business in his hometown of Bay Ridge – was formally inducted into the Culinary Hall of Fame on Thursday, October 23 at a super-sweet ceremony (handmade cornets compliments of the chef and all) at Brooklyn Borough Hall.
The cherry on top? The Ridge native and Xaverian High School graduate stands above the rest as the youngest of over 850 fellow inductees.
“The reason why I became a chef is simple,” said Tropepe after thanking the Culinary Hall of Fame for the recognition, Brooklyn Borough Hall for the celebration and emcee and Food Network star Chef George Duran (whom he noted for his ability to turn Slim Jims into meatballs and presented with a handcrafted knife he had made and flown in from Japan) for his heartfelt introduction. “I wanted to continue the work of my grandmothers.”
Tropepe told of his grandmothers’ “excellent expression of Italian hospitality,” and how “Everyone who sat at the table was family despite their birth certificate or blood line.
“Day after day, I saw them cook for 30, 40 people every night,” he said, “and so, I associate this with people laughing, drinking, eating and having a good time.”
Dubbed the “American born Gordon Ramsay” by Edible Magazine, Tropepe – an award winning, seven time certified, nationally ranked and internationally honored chef (and author of Behind the Kitchen Doors to boot) – is continuously climbing the culinary ladder and, at just 32 years old, has cooked for everyone from Queen Latifah to the Clintons.
“It’s not ‘Hooray that he’s been inducted into the Culinary Hall of Fame,’ it’s ‘Hooray that the Culinary Hall of Fame is getting someone as good as Vincent to be a part of it,’” said Borough President Eric Adams who joined Duran as well as Tropepe’s personal friends Robert Oliver and Gina Biancardi (founder of the Casa Belvedere Italian Cultural Foundation) in speaking highly of the “celebrity chef’s” many accomplishments.
Adams cited Tropepe’s can-do and can-cook attitude as one that manages to bring people together in a time of “fast-paced, fast-food, McDonald’s life.
“He raises the bar for the better. He authenticates how great their institution is,” lauded Adams, recalling a visit to Bay Ridge this past summer where he indulged in one of Tropepe’s handcrafted French pastries. “Food has a universal language that everyone understands. It’s either good or bad and his is great.”
From his Third Avenue business in Bay Ridge, Tropepe fights for those local restaurants that have been slammed with unfit fines but, from behind the kitchen doors he serves up everything from a succulent pan-seared steak (which he once served at his Bay Ridge eatery Saint Germain, shuttered over a year and a half ago due to inability to expand) to crispy, crunchy, melt-in-your-mouth cannoli.
“I have had my share of bad things happen to me,” Tropepe told the room, noting specifically a recent stroke, “but I continue to push on, press on and, most importantly, cook on, because of the people in my life.”
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