Celebrity chef and cookbook author Michael Lomonaco, owner and head chef of of the Porter House steakhouse in New York's famed Time Warner Center, stopped by "The Early Show on Saturday Morning" and brought a special Christmas Eve dish - a Lomonaco family favorite and his "ultimate dish" - Crown Roast of Pork.
For Lomanaco, the holiday is all about family. He comes from a large, Italian, family and meals are long, loud and full of delicious food. He says any dish is an ultimate dish as long as it is shared with family and friends, especially during holiday season. Traditions mean a lot to him and his family, and a big festive dinner, special times spent with friends and family are the traditions he remembers best.
Christmas Eve and Christmas dinner are usually filled with many dishes, each symbolizing something for the holiday and New Year.
The crown roast (or ham or some other large dish) is always the centerpiece. Bitter greens represent the bitterness of life and the sweetness of the acorn squash & maple sugar glaze the sweetness of life.
Croquembouche, another dish in the meal, is the perfect marriage of his past and present. He is a classically-trained French chef, and his mother always made Italian cream puffs during the holidays - the croque marries the two in perfect harmony and is the perfect way to end the meal. Procesco is very Italian and, according to Lomanaco, easy to drink during a long meal.
The Brooklyn-born Lomonaco started his career at Le Cirque, working with famed chefs Alain Sailhac and Daniel Boulud. In 1989, he took the helm at The 21 Club and turned the stuffy and (some say) out-of-date restaurant into a place to see and be seen.
Lomonaco's next stop was on top of the world - as executive chef at Windows on the World, in the World Trade Center.
Fate intervened on the morning of September. 11, 2001: Lomonaco stopped earlier than planned to get his glasses fixed at an optical shop on the concourse level of the World Trade Center a little after 8:00 in the morning. If he'd have arrived in the restaurant at this usual time, he would have been there, at the very top of the tower, when the plane piloted by terrorists flew into it.
He then co-founded the Windows of Hope Family Relief Fund, which gathered support for restaurant workers' families in the wake of the September 11 tragedy.
His bold approach to American Cuisine has made him one of the top chefs in his field. He's hosted the Travel Channel's "Epicurious," as well as his own "Michael's Place" on the Food Network (from 1995 - 2000). Leaving hosting behind, he returned to the kitchen when he opened Porter House in October 2006. Porter House is Chef Lomonaco's re-imagining of a classic steakhouse, and it's recevied rave reviews since opening its doors.
His cook books include: "The 21 Cookbook," which is considered a classic by many, and his recent "Nightly Specials."
Lomonaco is also a teaching chef. He lectures and teaches at the City University of New York, the Culinary Institute of America, and Institute of Culinary Education, among others. He's also appeared as a guest chef at the International Hotel Show and the Chicago Restaurant show.
On "THE Dish," a different famous chef each week reveals what he or she would have if they could have just one meal. That's because for us, "THE Dish" is about the moment, the place, and the person you would share it with. It's about the emotion behind the food, it's about the conversation and the meal itself. We want to get to know these chefs on a deeper level and hope our viewers do, as well.
For Lomonaco's recipes, go to Page 2.