Chef Q&A: Gerald Sombright, Knife & Spoon

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We recently sat down with Gerald Sombright, Chef de Cuisine at Knife & Spoon. This signature steak and seafood restaurant conceived and led by award-winning Chef John Tesar is located in the Ritz Carlton Grande Lakes.

If you could travel anywhere in the world to eat for one week, where would it be and why? If I could travel anywhere for one week it would be Angola. I just learn through DNA that my paternal family is from there. I am curious to see the influences that lend themselves to the flavors that I gravitate towards today.

Who had the biggest influence on the way you cook, and why? I would have to say Steven Milstein and Mary Green. Steve taught me as a chef how to be creative. He really opened up flavor combinations and techniques to me. Mary Green is my grandmother and she taught me how to cook with heart for people.

What’s the one type of traditional cuisine that you always wished you could prepare, and why? I would love to be better at baking. During quarantine was my first real stint at growing into a starter and working through recipe’s to acclimate myself. But I would still say for all my success I am still a novice.

If you weren’t a chef, what would your dream job be? Being a chef is actually my dream job from the perspective of artistic outlet. Managing budgets and people are not nearly as “fun” as the cooking. If I had a dream job outside of that would maybe be stand- up comedian. I love the banter and the anticipation of the “call back”.

What advice would you share with chefs just beginning their careers? I would advise anyone starting out to travel often and eat the world. Exposure to different cuisines and working in different cities will provide such a depth of knowledge and development of palate and global perspective.

If you could change one thing about Orlando’s food scene, what would it be?Variety, culinary prowess, and community. There are a few chefs in town that are pushing towards a deeper community but there are really no “industry” spots here. I feel the city is definitely moving forward with newer restaurants but I welcome more variety.

What was it like when Florida restaurants were in lockdown? I think the biggest struggle was the sense of uncertainty. We hadn’t opened yet and didn’t have a staff to worry about which I was grateful for. Not knowing if or when we would open caused a bit of anxiety. Grateful and fortunate to have our owners and team that wanted to be a beacon of hope and prove that delay did not prohibit progress.

For more Chef Q&A’s, visit our archives.

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