Hot Chef Ralph Pallarino Featured on

Posted on Thursday, February 15, 2007



Thom Cardwell of features Ralph Pallarino and some of the hottest chefs around.

Philly’s Hottie Chefs
By: Thom Cardwell

Today, chocolate and romance seem to be forever wedded together, especially at Valentine’s Day. It’s a time each year when lovers have the chance to declare their love, their loyalty, and their dedication, with a lovely box, preferably heart-shaped, with exquisitely formed and deliciously rich chocolates.

At, it didn’t seem to be much of a leap from chocolate and romance to seduction, sex and, well, to be honest, some of the area’s hottest chefs, in more ways than cooking. So we talked to six chefs about their love (or dislike!) of chocolate and their advice on romance.

Chef Justin Rambo Garwood from Philadelphia Fish & Co. isn’t a big fan of sweets. In fact, he said that a great dinner without dessert suits him just fine.

“I really love chocolate with a touch of salt and chile. It is a completely different spin on dessert. I truly think they both bring out a whole new depth of flavor and complexity, something that comes from authentic Mexican cuisine.”

As for romance, Garwood is likely to chuckle.

“I work late six nights a week and my girlfriend is a student. It’s difficult to see each other, let alone find the time to be romantic.”

Still, he admits to being romantic by nature, anyway, and never misses a night of putting his girlfriend to bed.

Your whole life is dedicated to sweets, desserts, even chocolate when you’re Chad Durkin, executive pastry chef at Water Works Restaurant and Lounge. For him, chocolate is all about spraying.

“A chocolate sprayer can create a warm misting cloud of chocolate on an object,” explained Durkin, “This creates a slight coating with a velvety finish, commonly used on decadent chocolate desserts.”

Durkin confessed even to employing chocolate spraying on bodies, painting them like living canvasses. “I have even used this technique on food shows with friends who didn’t mind being in their birthday suits – made out of chocolate that is,” he said.

It’s no surprise that Durkin doesn’t need any help when it comes to romance.

“I love having a “Bed-In” on a day off and only leaving the bed to make breakfast,” said Durkin.

Sexy and single Mike Luongo, executive chef at Vesuvio, wants to have it all.

“Very rich and decadent” is how he describes his favorite chocolate creation, Frangelico mousse truffle, and his personal approach to dating and romance.

Physical and earthy, Luongo admits to a very private technique learned from one of his mentors to finish cakes and tarts.

“With clean hands, dip all five fingers into a bowl of warm, loose melted chocolate. Lift hands over the pastry using the run-off and create a Jackson Pollock on the ‘canvas’ of your choice. Licking your fingers when finished is optional.”

Is Luongo a romantic? He’s a pro.

“Feeding a lover, that’s for me,” he said. “Partners share a single plate of food, taking turns spooning food into each others’ mouths, and keeping eye contact.”

Like Luongo, executive chef Jemale Edwards, at Brulee: The Dessert Experience at The Quarter at Tropicana, in Atlantic City, is all about making homemade truffles for lovers – and his diners – all year long.

Edwards likes combining dark, milk and white chocolate for his liquor-infused truffles. Talk about seducing your lover with desserts!

“I incorporate a variety of liquors such as Cuba Libre Spiced Rum, Grand Marnier or Dulseda (dulce de leche),” he said, “Or I can customize a liquor variety that customers desire in quantity orders, too.”

Since his first passion is food, he finds cooking and baking for someone he loves to be the most romantic experience in the world.

“My truffles are amazingly creamy and velvety with a seductive flavor and texture,” he said, “like my attitude towards romance.”

Stud muffin Ralph Pallarino, executive chef at Gypsy Saloon, is a strong lover – of chocolate.

He uses it as an ingredient to complement flavors: deepening chili with chocolate a la Mexican, crusting duck with chocolate and ground coffee, and even creating a chocolate sauce over homemade ravioli filled with Mascarpone cheese.

A chocoholic? Maybe. “I also use chocolate in my coffee every morning,” he confessed.

But he doesn’t rely on the sweet stuff in love.

”Being romantic is to be thoughtful” Pallarino said, “Give little gifts to your mate, do things together like making dinner or shopping for the wine, even small gestures like putting toothpaste on their tooth brush.”

Executive chef Joseph Frost, Georges, in Wayne, considers himself something of an expert on both chocolate and romance.

“What don’t I like to do with chocolate,” he said. “It’s a food associated with love because everyone loves chocolate.”

Frost calls chocolate “an amazing ingredient” that can complement everything from strawberries and jalapenos to marshmallows and skirt steak. Then there’s his favorite – peanut butter, after that, foie gras. But not together, he jokes.

Frost points out that being a chef and being romantic really don’t go together, since he finishes work when most people are going to bed. But every Sunday night he cooks dinner for his girlfriend.

“Nothing over the top; no foie gras no truffles, just dinner for two from the heart. If you cook for the love of food you should cook for the one you love,” he explained. “That’s about as romantic as any guy can get, I think.”