From working at a country club as a teen, then training under renowned chef Ming Tsai, to his current job at The Bristal at Lake Grove, Mark Hain’s cooking career is as varied as it is impressive.
“My father always said if you want money, you have to go out and make it,” Hain, a Rockville Centre native, said. “I started out in the country club washing dishes. One day the chef called (for help)…I just jumped onto the line and went from there.”
But even before that first job, Hain’s father instilled a love of cooking that went far beyond money.
“He was all about waking up on a Sunday morning and cooking. He really had no experience, he just loved to cook for the family on Sundays,” said Hain.
Working as a Chef at The Bristal at Lake Grove
Hain went on to study at The Culinary Institute of America before working with Tsai, his mentor, and a number of other top chefs. Although he loved the work, the long hours were grueling.
“I would start at six in the morning and get home at 11, 12 at night,” he said.
After overhearing another chef talking about an open position at The Bristal, Hain applied and fell in love with the job.
Besides the much more palatable hours, Hain enjoys teaching the other staff members and residents about the food and techniques he uses.
Outside of work, Hain participates in a variety of cooking-related community activities. There’s Taste of Long Island, a yearly festival benefiting veterans in the area, and he is active in events at The Morgan Center, a preschool for children battling cancer.
Holiday Dishes at The Bristal
At The Bristal at Lake Grove, Hain says he prepares a risotto dish each year for the holidays. He also includes action stations, where residents can move around the room and choose from different options for themselves.
After all, he asks, “Who doesn’t love a good risotto?”
Yields 6-8 portions
PREP TIME: 15 MINUTES
6 Tb. unsalted butter
3 large shallots, finely chopped
2 cups Arborio rice
8 cups chicken broth
¼ cup white wine
¼ cup Pernod (absinthe)
2 cups cooked lobster meat, diced
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup heavy cream
2 Tb. truffle oil
Cook time: 20 to 30 minutes
1) Warm your stock so it is ready to add to the rice (the key to a great rice is using warm liquids).
2) In a separate pan, add butter and sweat shallots on medium heat until translucent.
3) Add rice and slowly toast over medium heat, about two minutes, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula. Do not brown the rice; only cook until the aroma of the rice starts to come out.
4) Once rice is toasted lightly, add Pernod and deglaze your pan. Be careful as the Pernod will ignite if close to an open flame.
5) Once the rice has absorbed the Pernod, add the white wine and allow the rice to absorb the wine, again, taking caution of the open flame.
6) When the wine is almost completely absorbed, slowly stir in the stock a little at a time, stirring constantly to bring out the starch in the rice. Do not rush, as this is a key step to the risotto.
7) The risotto is ready in about 20 to 30 minutes and should have a consistency of a creamy oatmeal with a slight crunch.
8) Add cooked lobster meat.
9) Once the risotto is complete, turn off the heat, and slowly add heavy cream, folding in the cream with the rubber spatula.
10) Fold the cheese into the rice.
11) Drizzle the truffle oil on top of the rice and serve.