In the armchair with chef Tom Hagist | In the armchair


AGE: 31.

OCCUPATION: Head chef, Olympia Tea Room, Bay Street, Watch Hill.

RESIDENCE: Westerly.

BORN, LIFTED AND DEVELOPED: Rhode Island Born, Rhode Island Bred and when I die, I'll be a Rhode Island Dead. "(Go URI Rams!)

GOOD NOW I AM IN THE MIDDLE: Menu test for the next season, lots of cooking and tasting.

I LIKE TO SPEND MY TIME: Explore the world through food, with my extraordinary wife Alex!

MY MORE PROUDEST AGREEMENT: Probably about four years ago, when my chef at the time, in Dallas, gave me the opportunity to redesign the dinner menu for the Italian restaurant inside the Hyatt Regency Dallas. It was the first time I designed and implemented a complete menu and it was a great honor.

I'd like to be remembered for: My integrity, my humor and my passion.

TOP OF MY LIST: I want to eat in the southern United States. I fell in love with the history of food when I was in Texas and I would like to travel all over the south, from Charleston, to Nashville, to New Orleans, learning as much as possible about true American cuisine.

TRANSPORT ALWAYS: My knife rolls. It took me years to accumulate all the tools I need to do my job so they are never far from me.

WHAT YOU WANT TO BE WHEN I SURPRISE: I always wanted to be an aviation pilot.

MY MOST MEMORABLE PET: My kitten Stoli. We saved in Texas. We found it about 10 years ago inside a cat box from a dumpster. Since we came back about six years ago, he lived a happy life with my in-laws.

PEOPLE WHO HAVE MORE INFLUENCED: On a personal level, there are two chefs who have influenced me the most: my former chef Romel Begonia in Dallas and my old chef, Richard Silvia, of the White Horse Tavern in Newport. They gave me a technical base in the kitchen and in the wisdom I carry with me every day. On a more spiritual level, the late Anthony Bourdain has always given me a purpose through his writings, and currently chef Ed Lee inspires me to be true to my roots.

FAVORITE AUTHORS: My favorite authors are somewhat unconventional, they are mainly comic book authors; Matt Fraction, Ed Brubaker and Kelly Thompson made me have a hard time with their Marvel comics. The memories of Ed Lee and Anthony Bourdain also serve me in times when I need to reaffirm that cooking is a noble task.

BOOKS ON MY NIGHT STAND: Currently it's the new comic book weeks and "Buttermilk Graffiti" by Ed Lee. (I seem to mention it a lot.)

I'M LISTENING: When I'm in the kitchen I like to prepare all the metal, especially God, so when the service starts it's sweeter, some Mos Def or Common, then when the shift is over, whatever the strongest thing I can wear.

FAVORITE FILM: I'm a movie fan of B movie admitted, and, unlikely, my favorite movie is "Scream".

FAVORITE TV SHOW: I could review every episode of "Mind of a Chef", 100 times.

FAVORITE RADIO SHOW: I'm getting into the David Chang podcast lately.

FAVORITE SONG / GENUS OF MUSIC: My favorite kind of music is the emo or the punk of mid-2000, I guess I've never grown up.

THE TOP COMFORT FOOD: My wife's lasagna, I'm rarely energetic enough to cook when I leave work and her simple recipe is everything to me.

MY FAVORITE TO PREPARE: Something slowly roasted. I love the preparation and care needed to see a piece of meat over several hours.

SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES THE MORE USES: Instagram, it's essential to be a chef today … follow me! @ Yankeechef1391.

TRAITS THE BEST DIRECTORS: Dedication and passion for sure.

PET PEEVES: When the cooks mix salt and pepper together in the same container.

FAVORITE QUOTE: "Life is not a two-sided coin … the only track is life and death. Everything in the meantime is a tasty dinner" – Ed Lee

MY FAVORITE THING OF OUR SMALL WORLD CORNER: The food, the history, the views. I love the unmistakably New England workman story and the culture it embraces.


SMALL CLEAR FACT ON ME: I was the dishwasher for three years at the Olympia Tea Room over 10 years ago. I have come a long way.

THE BEST ADVICE I HAVE EVER RECEIVED: "Focus on the small, and the great will come," my old Sous Chef Romel told me and is still resonating.

TIPS I LIKE BETTER: To cook. Your. Food. This is the advice I give to any aspiring or current chef. Don't try to conform or please everyone, cook what's true for you.

IF I RIGHT THE WORLD, IT WOULD BE Please refer to the song, "I want to conquer the world" by Bad Religion.

IF I WON THE LOTTERY, THE FIRST THING YOU DO IS: Pay all my debts and then build my dream restaurant and work there six days a week.

I DRIVE A: Ford Focus 2014 black

I WANT TO DROVE A: Chevelle 1967, black.

ALWAYS IN MY REFRIGERATOR: Milk and a six-pack of Narragansetts

IF YOU COULD GIVE A DINNER PARTY WITH A GROUP OF PEOPLE FROM THE PAST, PRESENT OR FUTURE, I WILL ENTER: Anthony Bourdain, Paul Bocuse, Ed Lee, Bruce Springsteen, Gabriella Hamilton and Billy Joel on the piano.

– Interview organized and curated by Nancy Burns-Fusaro

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