Chef's Spotlight: Andrew Garbarino, Chef/Partner of The Twisted Frenchman
Chef Andrew Garbarino knows his way around a kitchen. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, he worked for several years at Spoon, one of the more revered establishments in Pittsburgh's East Liberty neighborhood, and followed that by working at the beloved Il Pizzaiolo in Mt. Lebanon.
Working with same silent investor behind the now defunct Notion, he opened his modest 32-seat restaurant, The Twisted Frenchman, in April of 2015. In fact, it occupies the same space Notion once held on South Highland Avenue. Known for their impeccable service, the restaurant is a favorite of locals seeking an elegant, multi-course meal and out-of-towners who frequently return every visit.
Described by Pittsburgh Magazine as someone who "has the talent and the drive to become a heavy hitter in Pittsburgh’s culinary community," Chef Garbarino's style can best be described as combination of classic French training and modernism with an added measure of theatrical flair. His plating is as much of the experience as the flavor of his meals. He will tell you foie gras is his specialty, but don't take his word for it. Almost every positive review of his work—both from critics and customers—praises the flavor and plating of his unique spin on the classic appetizer. Known affectionately as "Foie Gras PB&J," the perfectly prepared duck liver is served on brioche with pine-nut butter and onion-raisin marmalade. It simply has to be seen (and tasted) to be believed.
The seasonal menu incorporates a variety of delicate and flavorful main courses, including lamb, smoked salmon and game fowl. Window seating is often reserved for adventurous guests indulging in the ultimate experience: the eight-course chef's tasting and wine pairing or the 14-course chef's table. The latter can be a three and a half hour event, presenting an unforgettable night out.
Garbarino's love of whimsical presentation is on display through the very end of the meal. He is known to pour liquid nitrogen directly over his chocolate mousse, creating crust of ice that dramatically shatters to reveal the creamy mousse below. His belief that dishes should be experienced with every sense is evident in everything he creates.
Where are you from originally?
When did you start cooking?
12 years ago, when I was 16.
Which chefs inspire you?
Grant Achatz, Joël Robuchon, Thomas Keller.
What are you known for?
Game birds and foie gras.
What is your favorite thing about your job?
Creating an experience.
What is your favorite fish to work with? Why?
Black sea bass, (for its) flavor, texture and paring with other ingredients.
What do you do for fun? Share a day off with us.
Paper work – ha, ha! Going out to eat, relaxing, sometimes not leaving the house and ordering Chinese. I make trips to Johnstown to visit my three-year-old brother. Spending time with my fiancé Danielle.
Why do you work with Land & Sea?
Brandon finds me what I need and shares my passion for quality, and Gary delivers it with the highest professionalism.
Three things always in your refrigerator/pantry at home?
La Croix, Chinese food, Hershey's Kisses.
Favorite book/movie/TV show?
Alinea (cook book by Grant Achatz), For Grace (a film biography about Chef Curtis Duffy), Chef's Table (a Netflix documentary series), and Gotham.
How do you want to be remembered?
For making a mark on the Pittsburgh culinary scene.
What is your favorite/signature dish?
Foie gras PB&Js.
Any ingredients you won’t work with?
We don't use a lot of Asian ingredients, or anything outside the realm of French or European cuisine.
Favorite part of working in the Pittsburgh area?
If you could cook for anybody in the world, living or dead, who would it be and why?
My grandmother. She never got the chance to eat at my own restaurant, and it's something I wish would have happened every day.