Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

From a Diner to a Focus on Mediterranean

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

From a Diner to a Focus on Mediterranean

Article excerpt

The culinary master at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art and its grounds is Jeff Trefry, executive chef of the onsite restaurant, Treviso (5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota, 360-7390, trevisorestaurant.com). A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Trefry worked at various renowned locales prior to Treviso, including the Ritz-Carlton in Kansas City, the Naples Bath and Tennis Club and Cafe L'Europe and Cork in Sarasota.

Q:How did your culinary career begin?

A:I started in the restaurant business when I was 15, cooking in a local diner in St. Joseph, Mich. I enjoyed the work, and the atmosphere was chaotic and fun, so I thought it would be a good career fit.

Q:What have been three of your most popular original dishes over the years?

A:The first would be my curry-painted sea bass with granny smith apple slaw (I think they still have that one on the menu at Cafe L'Europe). My second is my grilled vegetarian pave with cardamom carrot jus. And my current favorite is my Venetian fried green tomatoes.

Q:What are the most thrilling and taxing aspects of your work?

A:They are one in the same to me, actually. I enjoy doing large parties and banquets. Parties at the Ringling can happen in various locations and take a large amount of planning and prep work. We've done parties at the Ca' d'Zan, the museum courtyard, all three circus museums, in the museum galleries and even in the Belvedere tower on top of the Ca' d'Zan. We get things ready at Treviso and transport them to a field kitchen that we build on the property near the venue. When I can execute all of this as well as I do in my own kitchen, that is very rewarding.

Q:Are you currently experimenting with any new flavors, styles or menu items?

A:We keep things Mediterranean at Treviso but the menu changes often. Most of the experimenting we do is researching menu ideas that we can incorporate into special events. We have done dinners in the past using menu items from the turn of the century for a Gilded Age-themed menu. …

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