Chef Francesco Palmieri Shares Life of Cooking
Chef & Owner of The Orange Squirrel in Bloomfield, NJ, Francesco Palmieri, discusses his culinary experiences and his involvement with the Montclair Food and Wine Festival.
"Welcome to Life and Living. I'm Joanna Gagis. He has a rich and diverse culinary background and he's doing so much to contribute to North New Jersey's restaurant scene, but what we're most curious about is why the name of his restaurant. He's Francesco Palmieri. He's chef and owner of the Orange Squirrel and President of the Montclair Food Festival right here in Essex county New Jersey. Welcome to the program. Thanks. Thanks so much. Thanks for having me. I'm so excited. We're excited to have you. You're doing great things, not just in the restaurant but also at the Food and Wine Festival. We're going to cover all of it. Let's start with the Orange Squirrel. Talk about the restaurant. What is the concept there? Well, our concept first and foremost is to have a comfortable setting where everyone is accepted and has that really special feeling. We want everyone to have that little intimate feeling of bringing hospitality to everyone but on a really grand level. We're a very fun and friendly restaurant with creative nuances throughout. To be exciting and not just a cookie cutter place but we want everyone to come in and be like "wow that was different". Something unique. Yeah, very unique. We like to consider ourselves trailblazers, not as followers. More as leaders. And it's hard to do that in this kind of industry where everything is set the same way, every way. Okay, so before we talk about the exciting dishes that you have and show some pictures... Why the name? Okay, here's the most important question right? Why the name? Why does everyone want to know that? It's intriguing. We like to say come in and ask us about it and everyone does, and we like to tell it to them there and then. What do you tell them? You're going to hold out on us aren't you? Well, Yeah. We've done it every time. It's one of those things. When we came around with the concept and we were trying to figure out the name, we were throwing a lot of things to see what worked. And when the Orange Squirrel was created, it kind of got legs you know? Is that the best answer you're going to give me? Come on! Why the Orange Squirrel?! I mean we can tell you that the place previously was the famous oak tavern which was kind of like a really fun Irish bar. Maybe had a seedy element about it and we kind of retransformed it into this Orange Squirrel. The Oak Tavern had an oak tree, acorns. I don't know and orange squirrels were created I guess. Alright. The Orange Squirrel is a mystical creature that lives right there on Bloomfield Avenue in Bloomfield New Jersey..."