Meet Chadwick’s award-winning executive chef
Brooklyn’s Zack Stapelman Has Big Plans in the Works for Popular Bay Ridge Restaurant
Chadwick’s Restaurant, at 8822 Third Ave. in Bay Ridge, is known for its outstanding culinary cuisine, and Executive Chef Zack Stapelman is enjoying his role overseeing one of Brooklyn’s finest kitchens. The enthusiastic young man is happy to be at the helm and has already demonstrated his skills by winning the Great Big Bacon Picnic that took place last fall at the old Pfizer factory in South Williamsburg.
Stapelman’s winning entry was braised Bacon Bahn Mi Crostini, a play on French and Vietnamese cuisine. There were three sessions and each session awarded a different winner. The entries were judged in three categories: deliciousness, presentation and creativity. Stapelman’s dish won for deliciousness in the first session. He says “it was the first time for me to take my food, my idea, and bring it to life and serve it to thousands of people. To get that kind of response straight out of the gate was just amazing.”
Twenty-six‐year old Stapelman was born and raised in East Flatbush, and comes from what he refers to as a family of chefs. His father did macrobiotic and healthy cooking during the ’60s and ’70s, long before it came into vogue. His older brother owned and was executive chef at two restaurants in Manhattan, before opening another restaurant in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which was listed as one of the top‐50 restaurants in the country by Forbes magazine in 1992.
Stapelman explains, “So for my whole life, I’ve always just been around cooking, and food has been a focal point of family. When I think about family, I think of dinners. When we get together and have the whole family together, we’re either eating or watching TV, and the most memorable things revolve around eating, because you get to talk and interact with people.”
He started working as a dishwasher when he was 17 years old in a restaurant called the Fish Market. It was raw bar and burger joint in the South Street Seaport. He would wash dishes from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. six nights a week. When one of the cooks didn’t show up for work one day, Stapelman saw it as his opportunity to approach the chef and ask to fill in. That made him realize that his future would be working in a kitchen.
Cooking came easy to Stapelman, and he felt right at home in the kitchen. Stapelman worked at the Seaport restaurant for six months before moving on to Torrisi Italian Specialties, which was located at Mulberry and Prince Street.
He got the opportunity to be trained by two talented chefs, Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone, in what describes as a “culinary boot camp.”
They saw that he had the desire to learn and offered him the opportunity develop his skills. They taught him how to create exquisite, elaborate plates full of flavor.
Stapelman has worked in other restaurants over the years honing his craft, including the now‐shuttered Low Country Greenwich.
One year ago he started working at Chadwick’s. He landed the position at the recommendation of Chadwick’s previous award‐winning chef Sean Quinn. Quinn was a winner on “Chopped,” the popular Food Network cooking show. When Quinn decided to leave Chadwick’s, he knew he had to find a replacement. He contacted a friend of his who had worked as a chef with Stapelman at Low Country. The friend suggested Stapelman would be the perfect candidate.
Stapelman feels like he’s found a new home at Chadwick’s, and praises owners Steven Oliver and Gerry Morris for making him feel welcome and giving him the opportunity to be creative in the kitchen. Stapelman adds, “They’ve put a lot of trust in me which allows me to test and try out all kinds of new dishes. They’ve allowed me to expand the flavor profiles of the typical dishes we serve here. And so far, the menu has received a warm response from our regulars and new customers alike.”
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