Meet The Chef: Tony Moustakas of City Winery Hudson Valley
Next in our MEET THE CHEF series, we are delighted to introduce Tony Moustakas, Executive Chef of City Winery Hudson Valley. Borrowing from Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern influences, Chef Moustakas creates regionally-inspired cuisine meant to be paired with a great glass of wine.
Born and raised in the Hudson Valley, Chef Moustakas’ culinary inspiration is family-driven. A third-generation chef that developed his skills while working side-by-side with his father in the kitchen, his passion began at an early age. Let’s find out more about Moustakas’favorite things about living and working in the Hudson Valley and being part of one of the most exciting venues in Upstate New York!
INSIDE+OUT: Tell us about yourself: Where were you born and how did you wind up in the Hudson Valley?
EXECUTIVE CHEF MOUSTAKAS: I’ve lived in the Hudson Valley all my life. I was born in Poughkeepsie and raised in Pleasant Valley. Once I had a family of my own, we decided to settle in East Fishkill, where we live today.
Where did you get the inspiration to become a chef and what was your journey?
As a third-generation chef, my culinary and career inspiration is family-driven. My father was my mentor growing up. Working side-by-side with him in the kitchen as a kid inspired my passion for food. That was the driving force in my decision to attend Johnson and Wales to study culinary arts further. From there, I continued to work my way through the industry at places like The Village Restaurant, Slammin’ Salmon Gourmet Shop and Gourmet to Go Caterers before joining the City Winery family, opening their newest property in Hudson Valley as their Executive Chef.
What do you think is the draw to City Winery Hudson Valley and what do you do to keep things fresh?
When you combine great food, wine and music, that’s a perfect pairing. City Winery’s location is also truly unique. Located in a historic knitting mill that was restored to honor the history of the Village of Montgomery and the people that once worked there, the venue offers a beautiful setting along the Wallkill River with outdoor spaces to dine, listen to great music and enjoy incomparable food. I keep things fresh by creating cuisine that’s elevated by the fresh, locally sourced ingredients available locally in the Hudson Valley. I let the food speak to the guests, showcasing the amazing things the Hudson Valley has to offer.
Who or what inspires your menu and how often do you change it?
I love to explore new places with my family and I draw inspiration from our travels and the delicacies found in different countries and cultures. We also have beautiful seasons here in the Hudson Valley. I draw inspiration from the changing seasons to create weekly menus and specials that reflect what’s naturally available and fresh for the season.
City Winery hosts an ongoing Wine & Dine series, which Inside+Out had the pleasure of experiencing. It was your Wine & Dine Wild Game Dinner which was absolutely delicious. Here is a link for our readers. And another story where we featured your Spring Menu.
How do you inspire your staff and what is your company culture?
Throughout my career, I’ve drawn inspiration from family, starting with my dad when I was younger to my experiences with my own family today. At the end of the day, it’s about passion, creativity and love, and if I can create an environment where our team can share those values and bring that into our food, the enjoyment and growth just come naturally. Our mantra at City Winery is “Indulge Your Senses.” Those three words really do encompass the expectation for visiting or even working at, one of our locations.
What is one question you’re constantly asked or what’s the biggest misconception about City Winery?
The biggest misconception about City Winery is that we are just a winery when we are so much more. The venue is a beautiful historic site that’s perfect for private events, weddings and social gatherings of any size. We also host many live events—from concerts and comedy to beverage classes and Chef Pairing Dinners.
What do you love most about living + working in the Hudson Valley?
The seasons. The Hudson Valley is truly a beautiful place to live or visit any time of year.
What local businesses do you rely on to be successful?
We pride ourselves on sourcing locally so we partner with many local businesses like Hudson Valley Fishers, Feather Ridge Farm and Wild Hive to name a few. But there are so many more.
What is missing in the area that you wish we had?
Great question but I’m not sure I have an answer to this one. Growing up and living my entire life in the Hudson Valley, I’ve never felt like I was missing anything. The Hudson Valley offers a beautiful landscape, diverse culture and a lot of history that makes it such a great place. So for me, there’s nothing missing.
What is your favorite thing to eat/cook when you’re home alone or with your family?
The things my family most often craves are Short Ribs, Chicken Francaise or Ribs.
Tell us something about yourself people might be surprised to learn.
I like to create things with my hands, whether it’s the food you’re eating or the table it’s resting on. Creating D.I.Y projects with my wife and taking some old wood and making something beautiful out of it is something I really enjoy. It’s a great stress reliever.
Name three things you always have in your fridge.
Hot sauce as a condiment. Butter because I have to have it. And lastly, cream because I like things rich.
What would be your dream Hudson Valley Staycation?
I always relate the Hudson Valley with fall apple picking and farmer markets. I’m simple at times and would just be happy having friends and family at my lake house to enjoy good food and cocktails with an evening fire. Day tripping and eating out in Rhinebeck with the vast restaurant scene is always a good choice, too.
What was the best dish or meal you’ve ever had and who made it?
My top three would be Eggs Brioche -Jean George, Short Rib Lasagna – John Fraser, Tuna Carpaccio -Eric Ripert.
Photos: Courtesy of City Winery
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CITY WINERY HUDSON VALLEY
23 Factory Street
MONDAY 4-9 PM
WEDNESDAY & THURSDAY 4-9 PM
FRIDAY & SATURDAY 11:30 AM -10 PM
SUNDAY 11 AM -9 PM
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Read all of Inside+Out’s MEET THE CHEF SERIES
Chef Jesse Frederick | Butterfield Restaurant at Hasbrouck House| Stone Ridge NY
Chef Corwin Kave | Deer Mountain Inn | Tannerville NY
Chef Alex Napolitano | Prospect at Scribners | Hunter NY
Chef Clare Hussain| Runa | New Paltz NY
Chef Christoper Weathered | Mill & Main | Kerhonkson NY
Chef Elizabeth Steckel and Dirk Schalle | The Gunk Haus | Highland NY
Chef Wyatt Jaster | The Pines | Mount Tremper NY
Chef Richard Erickson | Blue Mountain Bistro & Bistro To Go | Kingston NY
Chef Cheryl Paff and Chef Juan Tzitzimititila | Black-Eyed Suzie’s | Kingston NY
Chef Francesco Buitoni | GioBatta Alimentari | Tivoli NY
Chef Doris Choi | Silvia | Woodstock NY
Chef Tony Moustakes | City Winery Hudson Valley | Montgomery NY
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