By guest blogger and New York writer Seanan Forbes
On Friday, Rodelio Aglibot abandoned Sunda, 110 W. Illinois Street (leaving it in the hands of a more than able crew) and took over the kitchen of the James Beard House, 167 W. 12th in New York City.
Aglibot's fantastic, the menu looked phenomenal, and I wanted in - not in the dining room, but the kitchen.
As is his way, Aglibot did the unexpected: He said yes.
That was Wednesday. This is three o'clock on Friday afternoon, and I find myself in a compact kitchen with an impressive array of chefs: Aglbot; James Gottwald, executive chef of Rockit Bar & Grill and corporate chef of Rockit Ranch Productions; Jesse Deguzman, Sunda's sushi chef, and chef Frank Fronda (below, right). Volunteers from the French Culinary Institute are putting in hours, as well.
Gottwald and Deguzman look like undergraduate students, but the kitchen buzzes with professionalism - and camaraderie. Aglibot, Gottwald and Deguzman are a three-man Chicago team. Fronda and Aglibot travelled around Asia together, and they co-own Baba's Pasta, an artisanal pasta company.
This isn't a tight-knit group; it's a strong, effective sailor's knot - one flexible enough to add a writer to its curves.