Meet the Chefs

Ever wonder who’s cooking the food at your favorite local dining spot? We talked with five of Hingham’s top chefs to get a taste of their culinary styles and individual personalities, in and out of the kitchen.

By Colby Radomski | Photography by Kjeld Mahoney

MIKE SAEF
The Range Bar & Grille

How’d you land in the culinary world?
I entered the hospitality world in 1991 at the 99 in Rockland, busing and running food. I was attending Quincy College for hospitality management. I quickly moved into the kitchen as a line cook. I enjoyed—and still do—the fast pace of cooking professionally. I like being the leader of a team and take great pride in teaching [others] and seeing my staff move up the career ladder.

Describe your culinary style.
Keep it simple and use fresh local ingredients. It’s also important to have fun while cooking, as I always try to do with my team.

Culinary trends you’re loving?
People trying new things. Instead of buying prepared foods, people are making meals from scratch. Growing herbs and vegetables is very trendy—I have been gardening for years. It’s very gratifying to tend to plants and watch them grow before enjoying your harvest.

Favorite cuisine to cook at home?
When I cook at home I tend to cook on my Weber grill. I’ll cook various proteins and vegetables, which are delicious when properly seared on the charbroiler.

Favorite places to eat locally? My go-to restaurants are Galley Kitchen & Bar and Alma Nove for special meals. Chef Houlihan and Chef Wahlberg have it together.

What do you like most about working at The Range?There are many reasons. First, I love the kitchen, which I designed. I’ve watched The Range grow into a popular spot. I also love my teammates—both at the front and back of the house. It takes a lot of people to get it right.

Chef Mike Saef recommends seafood lovers try the seared sea scallops over risotto.

Best part about being a chef in Hingham?
Having access to great foods and imports. The best seafood in the world is only a stone’s throw away!

Most notable people you’ve cooked for?
I’ve had the opportunity to cook for members of Aerosmith, Tony Bennett and Willie Nelson, as well as Hingham’s famous residents Tim Wakefield and Bill Belichick.

Dish you recommend people try at The Range?
Seared sea scallops over risotto. I would recommend that dish to any seafood lover who comes to The Range. I put a hard sear on fresh New England sea scallops to hold in their sweetness and pair them with corn and bacon risotto to complement their sweet and salty flavors. To finish, I toss in baby kale and top everything off with a lemon tomato butter sauce.

Something interesting people may not know about you?
I met my wife, Melody, 20 years ago while working at the [former] Hingham Bay Club—she was a waitress and I was a line cook. We have two daughters, Michaela and Madison. Michaela is going to college next year to become a nurse and Madison is currently enrolled in the culinary program at South Shore Vocational Technical High School. On my days off I love boating and fishing, as well as walking the beach to relax.

The Range Bar & Grille
306 Whiting St., Hingham
(781) 875-3382
therangehingham.com


JOSE ANICIO
Caffé Tosca

How’d you land in the culinary world?
I started as a dishwasher and worked my way up. I jumped around different positions and eventually settled as a chef.

Describe your culinary style.
Cooking each dish with 100 percent effort.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a chef?
I went to school to be a veterinarian, so if I wasn’t a chef, I’d be taking care of animals.

Favorite ingredients?
Arugula. I’m putting it in most of my dishes. I’m also excited to work with fresh garden tomatoes, which I grow each year. I like to work with local ingredients.

Favorite cuisine to cook at home?
Brazilian and Italian.

Favorite place to eat locally?
I don’t have a favorite! But when I dine out I love to eat Italian food.

What do you like most about working at Caffé Tosca?
The customers that eat here.

Most notable person you’ve cooked with?
Chef Kevin Long is the most notable person I’ve worked with. He mentored me and taught me everything I know. Without his guidance, I would not be the chef I am today.

One of Chef Jose’s specialty pasta dishes, added weekly to Caffé Tosca’s impressive menu: fresh tagliatelle pasta, roasted corn, asparagus, truffle oil and Parmigiano cheese.

Dishes you recommend people try at Caffé Tosca?
Fresh pasta, which is made daily in our kitchen. I’m always coming up with a new special for our menu. The cod is also a standout on our menu, which comes pan seared with shredded zucchini, oven roasted tomato broth and caramelized fennel.

Something interesting that people may not know about you?
I love soccer. Wednesdays and Sundays are my days off from work, and on those days I support my Brazilian soccer team. Without those days off I wouldn’t be able to cook properly!

Best entertaining tip for home chefs? Don’t be scared to challenge yourself!

FUN FACT:
Chef Jose has been part of Eat Well, Inc.’s team for 18 years. Before Caffé Tosca, he was a chef at its sister restaurant, Tosca, for 12 years.

Caffé Tosca
15 North St., Hingham
(781) 740-9400
caffetoscahingham.com


BRIAN HOULIHAN
Trident Galley & Raw Bar

How’d you land in the culinary world?
I’ve been working in the restaurant business since I was 13 years old. I started working at a hotel (while attending a vocational high school and studying hotel management) working the front of the house and in the kitchen and I fell in love with it. My family—my sisters and mom—had always cooked at home. My mom said, “Why don’t you try it out? You’re really good at it.” I went to culinary school before moving to the States when I was 18. My first job was at the Harvard Club in Boston. I later worked as a sous chef at the Four Seasons and then at The Bostonian Boston hotel as an executive chef for five years.

Describe your culinary style.
Varied. We have four restaurants, each with a different concept (Houlihan also owns Bia Bistro in Cohasset, The Tinker’s Son in Norwell and Galley Kitchen & Bar in Scituate), but it all comes down to creating simple dishes cooked properly with local, seasonal ingredients and having respect for food.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a chef?
I love the marine business and the water, so I’d probably be doing something with fish mongering or fisheries.

What inspired you to open Trident?
I always loved this space in the Shipyard. I saw the building about five years ago and said, “I’d love to put a restaurant here.” I thought I had missed my opportunity when Union Fish opened, but when the space became available I jumped on it.

Favorite ingredients?
It varies. I usually go to farms or fish markets and see what they have, and then find the ingredients that speak to me and that’s what I’ll use for the day. For example, during Scituate Restaurant Week, we used red fish, an abundant bycatch that comes out of Scituate Harbor, which was awesome.

Cataplana, a Portuguese stew. Trident’s version has local scallops, Chatham clams, Chatham mussels, lobster, chorizo, spicy tomato sauce and fingerling potatoes.

Favorite cuisine to eat?
I love sushi or a great steak. I like simple, homestyle dishes versus elaborate dishes. Fuji [in Quincy] and Tsang’s [in Hanover] are my favorite local sushi spots.

Favorite place to eat locally?
The Ocean Kai. We’ll do “family Kai night” and all the staff will go over there for Kai platters.

Best part about being a chef in Hingham?
This beautiful area, and being so close to the water and Boston and having access to such diverse ingredients. We get our seafood from places within a five-mile radius.

Most notable people you’ve cooked for?
Julia Child and Jacques Pépin while I was a chef at The Bostonian in 2002. They came in during my first week of work for dinner.

Dishes you recommend people try when visiting Trident?
Cataplana, which is Portuguese stew. We use a local catch, Chatham clams, Chatham mussels, hake or flounder, lobster, chorizo, spicy tomato sauce and fingerling potatoes. Also the curried lobster, a dish we’ve been doing at our restaurants for a long time, or the catch of the day.

Something interesting people may not know about you?
We [my team and I] designed each of our restaurants—it’s my favorite thing. People ask us all the time about the design. I’m also very hands-on with each of my restaurants, whether it’s harvesting carrageenan (seaweed) from Scituate Harbor to use in the kitchen or scooping shepherd’s pie on St. Patrick’s Day at Tinker’s Son.

Chef whose style of cooking inspires you?
I wouldn’t say there’s one specific chef. I’ve been inspired by my travels, cooking shows, people I’ve worked with, different restaurants I’ve visited. I think I like to take a little bit of inspiration from a lot of different chefs’ styles.

Best entertaining tip for home chefs?
Hire us!

Trident Galley & Raw Bar
23 Shipyard Dr., Hingham
(781) 374-7225
Facebook.com/TridentHingham


ERIK STENFORS
Crow’s Landing

How’d you land in the culinary world?
I took cooking classes in high school. Before long, my friends would wait outside [of class] to see what I’d made. That blossomed into me cooking for my sports teams—I’d cook pasta dinners before meets. Following high school, I attended and graduated from the Culinary Institute of America.

Describe your culinary style.
Simple, but not always easy. I think it’s more difficult to have only three or four ingredients shine than a whole plateful. I like to let the ingredients speak for themselves.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a chef?
That’s a tough question. I’ve thought about it, but honestly, this is what I’ve done my entire life. I love fishing and wildlife, so if I had to choose, I’d say maybe environmental police.

Culinary trend you’re loving?
People being aware of GMOs and shifting away from mass-produced food.

Favorite cuisine to cook?
It goes back to fishing. My 10-year-old son and I love to bring home our catch to cook.

Favorite cuisine to eat?
I love all food, but I’d say sushi. Dalat Restaurant in Hull is my favorite place for sushi. Try the sushi pizza, it’s delicious!

Favorite place to eat locally?
Alma Nove. My wife is the chef there!

The Crow’s Burger is served with a signature pub sauce and applewood-smoked bacon on an oversized English muffin.

Most notable person you’ve ever cooked for/with?
I’ve cooked for a Chinese delegate, and I also worked alongside (the late French chef) Jean-Louis Palladin at Tosca. Tosca is also where I met my wife.

What do you like most about working at Crow’s Landing?
I love that our guests are educated and know good food. It really challenges me to do my best and be creative.

Dish you recommend people try at Crow’s Landing?
I would say the Bolognese and the Crow’s Burger. The Crow’s Burger is one of the best around and comes served with signature pub sauce and applewood-smoked bacon on an oversized English muffin.

Something interesting people may not know about you?
I’ve finished five IRONMAN® competitions. At one point, I held the world record for most oysters eaten in one minute—96. Unfortunately, someone broke that record a few days later.

Chef whose style of cooking inspires you?
I had an opportunity to work with [Boston-based chef] Ken Oringer. Our styles are very different, but he taught me how to think more creatively as a chef and introduced me to a lot of different ingredients that I’d never worked with before.

Best entertaining tip for home chefs?
Do as much organization and preparation as you can ahead of time so you can enjoy the night and entertain—that’s the whole point!

Crow’s Landing
6 Crow Point Ln., Hingham
(781) 749-2400
crowslandingma.com


ROBERT GONSALVES
Bloomy Rind

How’d you land in the culinary world?
I started off, believe it or not, at Ken’s Steak House as a bartender. Ken hired me himself. I’d hang out in the kitchen and do some minor prep. That was my first taste of the restaurant experience and I loved it. You either fit into it or you don’t. When I graduated college, I moved to California.

I was inspired by local farmers’ market fare and I was always cooking—it wasn’t a job, it became a passion. I quickly decided I needed professional training so I went to and graduated from the Culinary Institute of America. (Gonsalves has trained and cooked all over the world with noted chefs including Daniel Bruce of Boston Harbor Hotel, Frank McClelland of L’Espalier and Todd English.)

Describe your culinary style.
Freestyle and creatively inspired by seasonal ingredients incorporating French and Italian techniques. I’d also say it’s indicative of people coming over and hanging out for the afternoon. The fun part of cooking is delving in and just creating something.

Gonsalves’ wife, Mary: What’s amazing about Robert is that he pays homage to several culinary cultures and can switch regions and make them his own. You could be looking at Korean barbecue chicken next to a dish like quinoa cauliflower rice with harissa, which has more Middle Eastern flavors.

Bloomy Rind’s Cubano is a favorite among diners, made with slow roasted pork, smoked ham, Gouda, sliced pickles, harissa aioli and mustard that comes pressed between two slices of sourdough bread.

What would you be doing now if you weren’t a chef?
I’d probably have my own farm where I’d make my own cheese and forage my own food. I love to garden and be outside.

Signature dish to cook?
Honestly, whatever I come up with in the morning! I tend to gravitate towards peasant Italian. I love making charcuterie, terrines and three-ingredient pasta dishes.

Favorite ingredients?
Good olive oil—I can’t survive without it.

Favorite cuisine to eat?
Anything fish—oysters, lobster—we’re so blessed to be living in New England.

What do you love most about owning Bloomy Rind and being a chef in Hingham?
Being part of the community. Getting to know people and what goes on in town—that is without a doubt the best part. It’s always been our goal to have people come in [to Bloomy Rind] and feel that they can meet and relax here.

Shaved brussel sprout Caesar salad, pumpernickel croutons with white anchovy.

Most notable people you’ve cooked for?
I’ve cooked for many important people—presidents, celebrities, sports figures, “The Sopranos” wrap-up party, Julia Child—but probably the most notable person was a decorated Navy commander pilot. He literally walked into the kitchen, took his wings off of his white uniform jacket and pinned them to my chef coat. He said, ‘That meal was outstanding—above and beyond.’ That moment stands out as one of the most overwhelming and humbling experiences.

Favorite place to eat locally?
We love Tosca. It’s consistent, well-executed, done right—it’s on par with what you’d find in the city.

Dish you recommend people try at Bloomy Rind?
We’re noted for our sandwiches. I’d have to say the Cubano. I’ve had visitors from Little Havana in Miami and tourists from Cuba come in here and tell me it’s the best Cuban sandwich they’ve ever had.

Something interesting about Bloomy Rind that people may not know?
I refuse to have a freezer, frialator or a microwave on premises. Everything is delivered fresh and created daily.

Best entertaining tip for home chefs?
Mary: You show love for the people that you bring into your home or those that you visit by what you present to them. Make the effort, but don’t overthink it either. If you don’t have any ideas, pick up one of our beautiful mezzes or cheese slates!

Bloomy Rind
21 Main St., Hingham
(781) 740-1001
bloomyrind.com

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