MOUNT KISCO, N.Y. — Michael Williams' life — so far — has taken him from a childhood in Korea, to Kenyon College in Ohio, to New York's French Culinary Institute, and thence through a broad spectrum of cooking experiences, until he reached his present position as Executive Chef of Mt. Kisco's spacious month-old restaurant, Winston .
The 81-seat eatery features three-levels, including what is billed as "the only open-air rooftop bar and lounge in Mount Kisco" (open year-round with heat and partial covering).
You may already be familiar with Williams if you are a former patron of Bedford Hills' Perennial Chef, the popular source of prepared foods and catering services. Williams was co-owner. "One morning about 5 a.m. I was working in our production kitchen in the Bronx," he recalled, "when I noticed this American bull terrier staring at me through the glass doors. When I couldn't find the owner, he became mine. I named him Winston." As you may have guessed, the new restaurant is dedicated to the lucky pup.
Williams' professional training began with pastry-making. You have to know all aspects of the business, he said, "but pastry was too regimented for me. I enjoy the savory side of cooking. It's more flexible, more creative and you get to use a lot of different ingredients and different flavors."
The chef's creativity is broadly reflected in his menu. Winston Chicken, for example, is served with spätzle, oyster mushrooms and basil broth. Rice pudding is based on chai tea with added honey panna cotta. Choices change frequently. The large bar offers a range of eclectic beers, wines and spirits and features its own informal menu.
Maintaining a high quality of food and service is an enormous challenge said Williams. "You have to push it and tweak it and get rid of all the glitches. You want to constantly improve.
"There's nothing more exciting than working the line in a restaurant kitchen. You need so much energy. You've got to get the job done. Everything is a la carte, on the fly. The frenzy of a Saturday night between six and eight p.m. — doing 200 covers! I love the spontaneity."
Winston is located at 130 East Main St., 244-9780.
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