“I grew up eating bagels and lox, Chinese food, and pastrami and tongue sandwiches, like a lot of New York City kids,” says Hillary Sterling, A Voce’s chef de cuisine. Raised in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, the third-generation New Yorker grew up in the same house in which her father spent his childhood, and explains that although she lived in the nexus of food, her diet was still fairly limited. “I didn’t even know what Taco Bell was until I went to college,” she admits.
Once she began cooking professionally, that all changed. Her first job post-culinary school was at an Irish pub called O’Murphy’s, where she made blood sausage and shepherd’s pie; a gig with Bobby Flay (at his restaurants Mesa Grill and Bola) followed, where she was exposed to Southwestern flavors. She then turned toward Italy, spending two years at Mario Batali’s Lupa, followed by a stint at the now-shuttered Bar Milano, before taking a sous chef position at A Voce.
She deploys her Italian cooking skills in the recipe for Eggplant Parmesan she shared with the latest edition of the Sous Chef Series. She uses Japanese eggplants, pan-frying the slices instead of breading and deep-frying them, then layering them with tomato sauce and mozzarella, topping the stack with crunchy breadcrumbs. Her version is lighter than most, and if you use premade tomato sauce, it comes together quickly.
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