Who says you have to go to culinary school to cook food for the soul? Good thing Executive Chef Maura Shea of The Village didn’t get that memo, because she has been cooking up a storm ever since college. She originally went to Johnson & Wales University for Equine Business Management, but a stint making coffee at a catering company turned into a love for catering and then cooking. She’s managed restaurants, managed kitchens, catered her own events and this is her sec- ond executive chef position.
What inspired you to learn how to cook? Do you have any special childhood memories of cooking?
My mom for sure has influenced me the most. I used to lie in the middle of the kitchen floor on my golden retriever watching my mom cook. She was amazing! Unbeknownst to me, I was absorbing everything she did. Having lived all over the world, she learned the cuisine wherever she and my father went. My brother was born in Korea and I was born in Egypt, so we have quite a range for a bunch of Irish German kids from Pittsburgh. My father is also quite a cook as well. The man can grill anything.
How would you describe your cooking style?
Sophisticated comfort food. I try to take things that are familiar to most people and reinvent them. I also cook with booze a lot! Beer and wine pairings are one of my favorite things. We just had a beer tasting with Mad Hatter IPA that I paired with an IPA Beer Cheese and Pretzel Bites. I might have gone crazy when I turned the Dragons Milk Stout into a Beer Float with my Maple Bacon Ice Cream.
What’s a must try item on the menu?
The Roast Beef Sandwich: it has rare roast beef dunked in au jus topped with sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onions and Swiss cheese on a grilled brioche roll served with extra sauce. It comes with our hand cut French fries.
I hear your brunch is pretty spectacular. What’s your signature brunch item?
The Crème Brulee French Toast with Maple Bacon Crunch Ice Cream... It’s insanely good.
Brunch is definitely my favorite meal of the day. How are you jazzing it up?
I have taken the classics and spiced them up. My eggs benedict is served on a house baked herb roll, which is grilled and then topped with both ham and spinach – because why choose when you don’t have to? It’s then topped with my unique hollandaise sauce. Lately it’s been a chipotle hollandaise, but I switch it up from time to time depending on what is in season. Our Lemon
Pancakes with lavender sugar and edible flowers, served with cinnamon sugar butter and maple syrup, are delicious! I also like to throw in Devilled Eggs with a twist, like the Toasted Sesame Scallion Devilled Eggs my sous chef came up with this week.
Tell me about this Arancini with pink truffle sauce. It sounds delicious.
I worked with a chef named “Nacho” at an Italian restaurant I managed in Lincoln – sweetest man ever. One day he showed me what to do with leftover risotto. Naturally, he showed me the traditional Italian arancini, which is stuffed with ground beef, mozzarella and peas and served with marinara. I adapted my arancini for vegetarians to also enjoy, so the risotto ball is just filled with mozzarella cheese and rolled in bread crumbs then fried. The sauce is what makes the dish.
373 Richmond Street