You may have dined at Limani Long Island prior the opening of their New York City location last year. We were able to catch up with Chef Alam to talk about his favorite dishes, his childhood memories and his love for romantic music. Get to know him here.
What’s your food philosophy? Can you describe the food you make?
My food philosophy is to eat good food and stay healthy. The type of food I make is Greek and some Indian food that is healthy and organic.
What’s a favorite/signature dish of yours, or one that you’re especially proud of? What do you love about it?
I love Limani’s grilled octopus salad and the whole fish, specifically the sea bass. In both, I love the flavor and way they’re prepared, especially the smokiness. You can feel the flavor. Nothing is overdone and you can taste and see the food.
Can you share any food memories from your childhood?
My mother made this amazing chicken dish with rice called diryani, she always made it the best.
What drew you to this cuisine? What do you love about that kind of cooking?
I started preparing Greek and Mediterranean food when I moved to Canada in 1992 and I love how it’s healthy, simple and organic.
Tell us about the inspiration behind this menu you created. Why these dishes?
I try to stay true to simple Mediterranean flavors, especially the Ladolemono – the traditional Greek lemon and olive oil dressing – so that the taste of the fish is the star of the show. I combine only the freshest, hand-picked ingredients from my trips to the Mediterranean and throughout Europe with locally-produced, farm-fresh products from New York City vendors and markets. I think they’re the best!
Tell us about your background and where you grew up.
I’m from Bangladesh and moved to Montreal in 1992 at the age of 23, where I began working at the famous Greek seafood restaurant Milos. I was able to work my way from the ground up with no prior culinary training.
What is a typical night like at your restaurant?
At Limani, Monday through Thursday are our busiest nights with business people flooding in after work. We make sure we have all of our moving parts in place from the kitchen to the front of the house.
What are some of the most memorable dinners you’ve had?
I have a had few! One time at Nobu because the sushi there is incredible and another time with my wife in Cancun, Mexico in 2004 or 2005, just enjoying some well-prepared local cuisine.
What are the most popular dishes you serve? Your personal favorites?
Limani’s top sellers are Kolokithi (paper thin cut zucchini and eggplant served with lightly fried kefagograviera cheese and tzatziki), tomato salad and grilled octopus salad. My personal favorites as mentioned are the grilled octopus salad and the whole fish of sea bass.
What do you love about living and working in New York City?
I love the action of the city and how it’s always busy; the movement and everyone constantly on the go. Anything you need, you have it!
What ingredients do you look forward to all year?
I really look forward to whatever fresh ingredient I can find, and whatever is simple – oregano, basil, fresh herbs, etc. All my sashimis use baby cilantro, which I love. I also enjoy parsley, it’s the best for your body to clean your kidney, just chop and drink it!
Do you cook at home? What’s a typical family dinner?
I do, but very occasionally. In the summer I enjoy BBQs and making whatever the kids love, maybe some chicken.
What’s your definition of a successful dinner party?
Food according to course, but the main thing is to serve a successful dinner.
What are some of your go-to dinner party dishes?
Kolokithi, tomato salad, grilled octopus, crab cake and any of our whole fish.
If you weren’t a chef, what would you be doing?
I would be sourcing fresh produce and fresh fish.
How do you make everyday meals feel special?
Using fresh ingredients makes every meal special.
What’s a go-to everyday meal for you?
I like to start with a tomato salad, any whole fish or salmon as a main course, and yoghurt with raspberry for dessert.
What does a typical day in your life look like?
In the mornings I make breakfast for my family, care for my one-month old daughter and take my six-year old daughter to school. I continue my day at Limani satisfying all my customers with the freshest ingredients. At night, I go back home to my family and spend the rest of the evening with them.
What’s your favorite thing about your job?
Making my customers happy is what makes me happy.
What’s a dish you could eat over and over again and never get sick of?
Fish, I love all grilled fish.
What’s on your music playlist that gets you in a cooking groove and why?
I love romantic music.
If you could cook dinner for anyone dead or alive, who would it be and what would you serve?
I would like to serve dinner to President Obama; I would serve my tomato salad, grilled octopus, kolokithi, and whole fish.
To try some of these amazing dishes Chef Alam mentioned, make your reservations today:
45 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10111