In case you haven’t heard, an exciting mix up at Urbana Restaurant and Wine Bar brings a new executive chef to their kitchen. Executive Chef Alexander Bollinger joins the team from Charlie Palmer Steak in Washington, DC, where he was most recently executive sous chef under the accomplished Bryan Voltaggio. He’s been busy whipping up a new menu (which we can’t wait to try) that will be available in the beginning of October. In the mean time, we’ll let your mouth water while thinking about the up and coming Urbana “Saltimbocca” burger which will feature a prosciutto -wrapped Waygu beef patty with Madeira and fontina cheese, served on a ciabatta roll. YUM!
What is your favorite kitchen gadget?
A sous-vide machine because it improves shelf life of food and gives a much better yield.
What is the most overrated food/technique in restaurants today?
In my opinion, nothing is overrated in restaurants today. Each chef has a specific technique that works well based on the restaurant’s type of cuisine or his or her style of food prep. I’m of the opinion that wherever you creativity takes you is where you need to be.
If you were to open a restaurant with a different type of cuisine than what you are cooking now, what would it be?
I was born and raised in the East Bay and started meddling in the kitchen behind my mom’s back when I was about eight. So with that, I’d have to say “funky comfort food.”
What is your favorite local product or purveyor to work with?
My philosophy is to source locally as much and as often as possible so I do look to my own backyard first. That being said, I really enjoy working with a lot of local purveyors including Tuscarora, Path Valley, and Pipe Dreams.
What is your biggest customer pet peeve?
Come on now, no pet peeves with customers – they are always right! Seriously, I really try not to sweat the small stuff and I ultimately want my guests to have a memorable experience. Always. If there’s something they’re not happy with, then the extra steps I take to fix that will help them have a memorable experience that is positive.
What do you drink/eat after work?
Any kind of cold Indian Pale Ale along with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. When I’ve been cooking all day for 15 hours I prefer to just keep it simple.
What is your favorite thing to cook at home?
Spaghetti Bolognese. It’s one of the things I used to love cooking as a kid and I’ve worked to perfect it yet keep it simple as I’ve grown older.
Click below for Chef Bollinger’s recipe for Spaghetti Bolognese…
Photo from Darko Zagar
Chef Alex Bollinger’s Spaghetti Bolognese
1/3 lb. ground beef
1/3 lb. ground pork
1/3 lb. ground veal
1 Spanish white onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 whole plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
I teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh basil
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1. In a saucepot, sweat onion and garlic in 2 teaspoons of olive oil
2. Add carrots and cook for 10 minutes until tender. Add tomatoes to onion garlic and carrots
3. In a separate pan, cook ground beef pork and veal in another 2 teaspoons of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper
4. Once meat is almost fully cooked, add tomato sauce to meat and finish with fresh herbs.
5. Serve meat over cooked spaghetti or other desired pasta