Boston Accent: Happy Meals
Trophy Room Executive Chef Peter Palumbo adds a bit of spontaneity to the new menu at the South End gastropub
Chef Peter Palumbo came to his career through a fortune-teller. “I was 18, taking a year off before college. It was the Feast of San Gennaro in Manhattan, and there was a bum there who said ‘I’ll guess you what you do for a dollar.’ So I gave him a dollar. He took my hand, looked at it and said ‘Easy. You’re a chef.’ The coincidence was, just that week I had been looking into cooking schools, toying with the idea!”
Whether or not destiny played a role, after studying at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., Chef Palumbo’s career has spanned three decades and includes an impressive roster of clients. Aside from working in many restaurant kitchens, he has accompanied the Grateful Dead on tour as a private chef, and worked as a summertime chef for President George H. W. Bush in Kennebunkport, Maine. Now, he is the new executive chef at Trophy Room, a South End gastropub run by the boutique Chandler Inn, known for its LGBT-friendly atmosphere and welcoming blend of locals and hotel guests. Palumbo is excited to build upon Trophy Room’s reputation by cooking “outside the box”—both when it comes to pub food and his own background in Italian cuisine.
“We want to accommodate our little neighborhood, which is eclectic and open-minded. After a soft roll-out of new items, my idea is to continue to change the menu frequently—daily if I want to!—adding and subtracting based on availability and the season. It will be an exploration for me, but it’s not about intricate food. It’s just got to be good quality ingredients in a casual environment.” One sample menu contained a peek at the kind of culinary adventure Chef Palumbo has in mind: Bluefin tuna tartare with avocado, soy glaze and wasabi; a classic cioppino; bourbon-glazed short ribs; and shrimp sautéed with tomatoes, ramps and kamut chiocciole pasta are just a few of this kitchen’s Wednesday night offerings.
“I hope people enjoy some spontaneity,” Chef Palumbo says simply. “It’s just in me to want to make people happy, and I do that through food. Everyone is given one gift, I think, and I have the gift that I can cook.”
26 Chandler St., 617-482-4428, trophyroomboston.com