Interview by Joyce Appelman
Allison Fasano at the age of 28 already has a foodie following that rivals many seasoned celebrity chefs. She’s already appeared on “Beat Bobby Flay” and that Food Network appearance was the catalyst launching her in the spotlight. She was Bobby Flay’s sous chef at Gato, worked at Michelin Star restaurants like Del Posto and The Sagamore Resort.
Allison Fasano has taken up residence on Long Island where she’s helming kitchens with her true blended cooking style. She brought the old-school New York steak house vibe to Harley’s American Grill, earning the Farmingdale steakhouse three stars. This past summer, she turned the Salt and Sea Bistro at The Bay Breeze Inn in Jamesport into a bustling North Fork dining destination.
Fasano took time from her busy schedule to present a Tedx Talk on Food Waste and was the keynote speaker for the annual Long Island ATHENA Leadership awards ceremony where they acknowledged that Chef Fasano exemplifies the characteristics of ATHENA leadership and professional excellence. She spoke on “saying yes,” an approach instilled by her father and taking risks outside of your comfort zone. ATHENA Long Island serves to celebrate and support women leaders throughout different phases of their careers, honoring then for attaining professional excellence, community service and for actively assisting women in their achievement of professional excellence and leadership skills.
In addition, Allison Fasano cooked alongside Daniel Boulud at the Palm Beach Wine and Food Festival and supported Women Chefs and Restauranteurs (WCR) initiatives.
What inspired you to become a chef?
I actually focused my whole life on food and cooking. I was always the class clown. I was always a comedian. Now I cook and tell jokes for free so it’s a win-win for everyone around me. I would come home from school every single day and watch the Food Network. When I was 11, I saw Rachael Ray on “30 Minute Meals” and immediately realized it was the first time in my life seeing someone do what they really love. She was always smiling and telling great stories, many were funny and my kind of humor. I said out loud, ‘OK, this is what I want to do. I want to be Rachael Ray.’ She has been my biggest inspiration.
When I was 18 years old, I met Rachael. When I get really excited about something, I laugh a lot and then I cry. Here I am meeting Rachael Ray with a shirt that says ‘I heart Rachael Ray’ and I start crying. Then in October 2018, I was at the Food Network and Cooking Channel NYC Food and Wine Festival and I participated in the Burger Bash that Rachael hosted. Of course, I was wearing the ‘I heart’ shirt. She came over and gave me a big hug and she gave me her phone number. So, we’re like friends now!
My first food job at 14 was at an Italian bakery where I grew up in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I knew I always wanted to be a chef, so I went to school in the South of Italy in Calabria. I’m one of those people who say they are going to do something, and then I do it. A lot of people are surprised to hear that I’m 28. But I’ve just focused my life on food and always striving to be better than I was yesterday.
Do you have a mentor that’s had an impact on your career?
Elizabeth Falkner for sure. She has one of the biggest hearts and has given me a whole new approach to cooking. I’m always honored to work beside her. Elizabeth is a huge inspiration to me and to many female Chefs out there. Her fearless “you can do anything” attitude is something that is heartfelt.
Charitable organizations are important to you, tell us about your work with them.
I spend a lot of time collaborating with WCR (Women’s Chefs and Restaurateurs) and other talented Female Chefs on how we can make an impact on the future of the industry. It’s always important to me to give back and discover new ways for me to pay it forward.
Tell us what we need to know to support your efforts in reducing Food Waste.
Back in September I did a TEDx talk in Long is about food waste and hunger it’s ironic that those two go hand in hand. Waste and Hunger isn’t just an industry problem it goes way beyond our kitchens it’s a world problem. While most food waste takes place in our homes, professionals in our industry are becoming aware of the issue and looking for ways to make a difference. Restaurants can save their fruits and vegetable scraps for compost. 60-80% of garbage produced by restaurants is food waste. By composting they can reduce the environmental impact by keeping waste out of the landfill, lower the waste hauling and disposal costs and find a whole new way to connect with their community.
I also believe we need more educational programming for both consumers and professionals that will help teach us to not waste when we can feed, feed those who suffer from hunger. We need to create a world where meals are shared and enough food to go around. It’s important to shop local, support local farmers markets, and donate to organizations involved with food waste. I believe there’s a seat at everyone’s table.
Here’s the link to view my presentation: https://bit.ly/3aQhto2
Crystal ball, what’s in store for you?
I think the best is yet to come. I always try to be better than I was yesterday. I’d like to be nominated for a James Beard award. And to host my own show, comedy and food, what a novel idea!