Maison Privé Chefs, June 2013

by Ryan Salinetti in

James and Jennifer Vellano, the owners and chefs at Maison Privé were featured on The Nice Niche in November 2012…

This is a Follow-Up with Jennifer Vellano….

Since your posting on The Nice Niche, you’ve been rather busy—you opened a new space in Greenwich, CT?

Yes, we began with a commercial kitchen that would help us expand our private weekly delivery service as well as catered events.  With so many requests coming in to host private functions IN our space, we built out the front room to be a Tasting Room both for potential and future clients. In September 2013, we plan on launching a Private Supper Club in the Room.

Do you see yourselves eventually opening more locations — perhaps to cater to foot-traffic like a gourmet boutique?

I honestly don’t know.  Our growth has been a very organic progression: slow enough to afford us the quality of life that we want yet fast enough to accommodate for the growing needs of people who appreciate what we do.  We don’t ever want to sacrifice family time or quality for quantity so if we cannot expand appropriately, we won’t.

You are very passionate about organics and locally grown ingredients. Do you see a permanent shift within your industry from conventional to organic, or do you think it is a trend?

I hope to see a permanent shift but ultimately, our government and big agri-business have all of the control. With all of the information being released concerning the negative (and scary) effects of pesticides in our food supply, I think people are becoming more aware and wanting a general change.  It saddens me that what was once normal in our grandparent’s society is now a movement. Whatever you want to call it…trend or not…it’s a good thing.

And genetically modified foods (GMO’s), equally scary…

Generally speaking, we are very disturbed by GMO’s and equally as frustrated with the lack of concern from our government.  Many other countries have outright banned GMO’s but not the U.S. The next closest thing we can hope for is to at least have them labeled. We still don’t know the long-term effects of eating genetically modified food (large agri-business has suppressed science that could answer this question) but we do know that GMO crops drive up the use of health-harming pesticides — pesticides produced by the very same corporations that patent the seeds; pesticides that HAVE been linked to the increase in childhood allergies and diseases.  It’s very corrupt, and unfortunately based on money and power. Just this past fall the “Big 6” pesticide and GMO seed corporations spent $21 million to defeat Prop 37, the labeling initiative that began in California. At the very least, consumers MUST wonder why they would spend so much to keep us in the dark.

From a company standpoint, we used to buy only 100% grass fed and finished meat and eggs.  Then we realized that so many local farmers are doing the right thing by the animals—and feeding them grass—but are forced to buy genetically modified seed that turns into the grass.  We finally found a farmer who actually buys his seed (that eventually feeds his animals) from Canada (non-GMO), but it took us a long time to trace the meat all the way back to the seed.  Not everyone has the time to do that. There’s a long chain of issues to follow and we can only undo one link at a time. 

As a husband and wife chef-team, are you constantly refining your trade or do you take a break to enjoy your own creations on occasion?

We take breaks because we have to; otherwise it would be all work and no play.  Sometimes we get caught up in a constant wheel of creation but it’s hard to separate work from life when you love what you do.

They sort of become one.

Maison Privé was founded by James and Jennifer in 2008. They can be found at 136 Hamilton Avenue, Greenwich CT 06830 (203) 992-1880

Hours: Monday through Friday, 9am-5pm.