L’Andana Staff Feature: Executive Chef, Jeff Howe
So far, in our Staff Features, we’ve introduced some front of the house Staff Members, including General Manager, Hoshang Dadrass, and Marketing and Private Events Manager, Shannon St. Pierre. Today we’re excited to introduce you to Executive Chef, Jeff Howe.
Chef Howe has been with Columbus Hospitality Group for over nine years and has worked at four out of six restaurants within the group. He’s grown with the company and had a wide range of experiences in different roles: (from assisting with launch of a new restaurant to changing a restaurant concept entirely). At L’Andana in 2010, Jeff played an integral role in the creation of a dry aging program before moving to sister restaurant Teatro. He rejoined L’Andana as Executive Chef in July of 2015 and has brought his dedication and strong work ethic to the back of the house.
Jeff is a firm believer in farm to table dining, and in addition to his work in the kitchen, he dedicates many hours to L’Andana’s garden. Each season he spends time planting and maintaining our raised beds, which are filled with fresh herbs and produce that get incorporated in our dishes each night. Under his leadership, the garden is expanding and L’Andana continues to offer the highest quality Tuscan inspired cuisine, with a focus on fresh ingredients.
We caught up with Jeff to hear more about his experience with Columbus Hospitality Group and how he got started in the industry:
Hometown: Wilbraham, MA.
Favorite Dish at L’Andana: It’s a toss-up between the Orecchiette and the Striped Bass. The Orecchiette because we hand make the fresh pasta, and I make the spicy Italian sausage. But I also love the bass because it’s a great New England local fish, and the dish is really utilizing all the fresh herbs from the garden right now.
Two words to describe L’Andana: Wood Grill!
How did you get started in the industry?
One of my first jobs was at Friendly’s Ice Cream (Wilbraham, home of Friendly’s!) While all my friends were working on the fountain scooping ice cream, I was working the grill. When it was time to choose a college, the general manager at Friendly’s had some professional chef experience, and guided me towards culinary arts.
How long have you been with CHG and what roles did you have before your current position as Executive Chef at L’Andana?
I started a few months after Teatro opened in 2003. I started as a cook and became Sous Chef very quickly. I then went with Chef Jamie Mammano to The Federalist to assist with the concept change to Mooo. After that, I was part of the opening team at Sorellina. I came up to L’Andana for a year, starting the dry age program and our house made sausage recipes before going back to Teatro as the Executive Chef. I was there for 5 years until Chef Mammano called me up to L’Andana last July.
What do you love most about CHG?
This is a very forward driven company. We use the best ingredients we can find to create the best dishes. That means we all have the freedom to change and rotate our menus daily to keep up with New England’s changing seasons. We always are looking to create something amazing, then stand back and try to think about how to make it even better! Never stop improving!
What sets L’Andana apart from other restaurants in Burlington?
What sets us apart is our passion to keep improving. We continue to expand our garden, beehives, and menu. We’re constantly revisiting staple dishes that are crowd pleasers on the menu to make sure the love is still there.
What’s your favorite part of your job, day to day?
I love charcuterie. When I get a chance to brine, smoke, cure, or create something that I know is better than what people can buy in stores, I’m truly happy.
What types of items from L’Andana’s garden get incorporated into L’Andana’s dishes?
L’Andana’s garden is still mostly herbs like basil, thyme, rosemary, mint, oregano, and chives, but I’ve just started picking some squash blossoms and our second round of arugula and radishes. We have some small peppers starting to grow, and all the tomato plants are showing flowers.
How does L’Andana’s wood grill change the flavor of the dishes?
Aside from the great smoky flavor it imparts, that grill gets up around 1000°! That means we can sear a steak so quickly on the outside that all the juices on the inside are still intact. By the time the middle juices are warm enough to start moving, the outside is seared and they are locked in! I try to utilize the grill as much as possible, whether it’s slow cooking some vegetables, or marking a large piece of meat that will later be braised.
Chef Howe brings natural culinary talent to the restaurant, but he also provides expert leadership. General Manager, Hoshang Dadrass says, "Jeff is not only a talented chef, but also has the acumen of a great manager. Many people think that being a chef simply entails creating a menu, but in order for a restaurant to run at its greatest potential, a chef is required to be a mentor, a supervisor, and someone that understands the importance of hospitality. Aside from promoting team effort in the kitchen, Chef Howe has inspired many of his cooks, sous-chefs, and managers - including myself - to put a guest's needs before anything else. Such an attitude truly translates to happy, satisfied, and frequenting clientele."
Chef Howe’s dedication to constantly improve has shown over his thirteen years with Columbus Hospitality Group. His passion for high quality and locally sourced ingredients is contagious, and guests will be able to taste the difference. With Chef Howe at the helm, we’ll continue to offer the high level of cuisine and service that you’ve come to expect from L’Andana!
Click to read more about our team and stay tuned to the blog for more upcoming Staff Features!