By Chester Simpson
Chef Troy Clayton
722 King Street
Old Town Alexandria
When did you first become interested in cooking and why did you pursue a culinary career?
The first cooking memory is my little boy self, on a stepping stool making cheesecake with my Mother and Grandmother, perhaps six or seven years old. From a little boy who loved cheesecake, fast-forward a decade, to my 17 year old dishwasher self, seeing the Chefs at California Café as the coolest guys on the planet. It took me about a month to get out of the dish sink and onto the stove, and finding my passion, it is where you will find me today at Geranio.
Who/what has been the greatest inspiration in your career?
Having worked with many Chef-mentors over many years, each has had a huge influence on my cooking, work ethic, and standards, so it’s a bit of a list. Donaldo Soviero in Umbria, Jilles Marcoullier in Paris, Anthony Worrall Thompson and Marco Pierre White in London, Jean Louis Palladin and Gunter Seeger in America would be the short list of Chefs, but honestly the greatest inspiration in my career are my sons, teaching them by example, the value of high standards and hard work.
What dish on your menu are you most curious to see how it is received by your clientele?
Being a Chef/Owner is a lot of fun – creating new dishes while always adapting and refining the tried and true – so the only answer is….the next dish we create at Geranio. The creative process is collaborative with my kitchen team, and we are always curious how a new dish will be received, how many guests will order it, and how we will feel about our new creation from imagination through execution, to empty plates coming back to the kitchen.
What do you do to insure that your product is of a high quality?
In order to ensure not only great food, every dish, every night, but also great service and a phenomenal dining experience for our guests equally, surrounding yourself with an awesome team of committed professionals is the only possible answer. We call it The Geranio Family, and I am very proud of what we accomplish every day.
If you could have any chef in the world prepare you a meal, who would that be?
Surrounded by great food and cooking for my entire life, I have dined all over the world and enjoyed many phenomenal meals prepared by so many talented Chefs and I still love my own cooking. So, if I have to pick one, although a bit cheesy, I would choose to be fed by my Mom and Grandma cooking together – this is where it all started. Grandma passed many years ago, and Mom is in late stages of Alzheimer’s, so the meal I would most enjoy is the one I can’t have.
What is your guilty food pleasure?
Hands down ice cream…my comfort food at the end of a long night of cooking!
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