The FLX FAQs
A semi-regular column in which we nose our way into the minds and kitchens of Finger Lakes foodies.
Orlando Rodriguez, executive chef at Veraisons Restaurant at the Inn at Glenora Wine Cellars
As a member of the Veraisons team for seven years now, Chef Rodriguez is not afraid to mix it up. The great rapport he’s created over the years with area farmers allows him to create unique, colorful dishes, full of flavor and texture, featuring the best ingredients each season has to offer. He brings innovation and creativity as well as a calm and witty demeanor to Veraisons Restaurant at the Inn at Glenora Wine Cellars.
Edible Finger Lakes: What is the most interesting thing you always keep in your fridge?
Orlando Rodriguez: One of the interesting things I keep in the fridge that I don’t think many people in this area keep is yuca, it tastes like a fibrous starchy potato. Some ways that I have used yuca is deep fried, boiled and mashed. Yuca is something I grew up eating most of my life and it always brings back childhood memories.
EFL: What’s the last meal you cooked for yourself?
OR: The last meal that I cooked at home was rice with pigeon peas, sweet plantains, roasted cauliflower and an oven roasted pork tenderloin.
EFL: What’s the one kitchen tool you couldn’t live without?
OR: It would be my chef knife. It’s hard to cut things without it, but you can pretty much cook almost anywhere as long as you have some sort of fire.
EFL: What was the first Finger Lakes wine/beer/spirit you ever tasted? What was the first Finger Lakes food product you remember having?
OR: The first wine was the Riesling from Glenora Wine Cellars; the first spirit was the Knapp Grappa from Knapp Winery; and the first beer was Rooster Fish Brewing‘s Hop Warrior.
The first Finger Lakes food product I remember having was Lakemont Grapes from the vineyard.
EFL: If you could add one item to the Finger Lakes foodshed that isn’t already there, what would it be?
OR: I know we have different oils that are made in the Finger Lakes, but it would definitely be nice to have olive oil from the area.
EFL: What does it mean to you to be a part of the Finger Lakes foodshed?
OR: Being part of the Finger Lakes foodshed means a lot to me. I use Finger Lakes food at work for everyone to enjoy and also at home. Dealing directly with the farmers has created not only new business partners, but also friendships for my family and me. Every year at Veraisons Restaurant we sit down and go over all the products that we have utilized for the year and what we would like to try new for the upcoming year. There is no middle man so buying directly from the farmer not only provides one of the best quality ingredients that you are going to get, but less carbon footprint. Most farmers I work with happen to be only a few miles away from me, allowing for quick turnarounds. If I needed a product very quickly because I had a busy day, I can get it that very day. There have even been a few times where I went out to the field and helped pick product for that same day. I will tell you one thing: I do work hard in the kitchen, but being a farmer is not any easier and I always appreciate the hard work they do.