New York Glory – Chef Pecko Zantilaveevan of The Grill Room

 For the spring main courses, everyone loves the Crisp Farmhouse Duck with Plum-Rhubarb Compote and the Soft Shell Crabs.

The Grill Room at the Four Seasons is a New York classic. The stunning walnut paneled room has served as the setting for events such as John F. Kennedy’s 45th birthday and Manhattan’s last Grammy Awards party. Prominent New Yorkers have been power lunching, cocktailing and hosting major life events here for generations. As such, the chef at the helm is bestowed with the responsibility of mainting this well loved menu. Enter: Chef Pecko Zantilaveevan. Beginning as the sous chef and climbing to the top position, Zantilaveevan’s been sung the highest of praises in his tenure at the Grill Room—including its best New York Times review in the restaurant’s history and the James Beard Foundation’s Outstanding Restaurant Award. We took a moment to get to know the man behind one of the city’s favorite fares.

How did you begin your career in the culinary field?

I started peeling vegetables at Maurice when I was 17 years old. Christian Delouvrier was the chef and he taught me so much. I fell in love with the culinary field and decided that I wanted to make it my career, so I enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America.

What restaurants did you work at prior?

Maurice, Le Cirque with Daniel Boulud, then Tropica and Sea Grill – both with Ed Brown.

What appetizer, entrée and dessert is your restaurant best known for?

The menus change seasonally. As a result, the most popular dishes vary depending on when you come in for a visit. Right now, some of the favorite appetizers are the Crayfish Vol-au-Vent with Asparagus and Morels; the Fluke Sashimi with Black Olives and Preserved Lemon; the Artichoke Salad with Parmesan and a Champagne Vinaigrette. For the spring main courses, everyone loves the Crisp Farmhouse Duck with Plum-Rhubarb Compote and the Soft Shell Crabs. For lunch, a favorite is the Tuna Burger with a Spicy Ginger Mayo. All year long, people love our Soufflés and the Chocolate Velvet Cake. Our pastry chef Chris Broberg also makes a fantastic Banana Cream Parfait.

When you’re not at your own restaurants, where can we find you dining?

I like checking out lots of different places. La Grenouille has a prix-fixe menu with a delicious Egg, Truffle and Sunchoke Beggar’s Purse. The Red Snapper with Gooseberry and Lime at Má Pêche is delicious. After a late night, I like to go to La Esquina for Skirt Steak Tacos.

What’s your favorite drink?

I love big, bold Italian reds like Barolo or a Brunello di Montalcino; and sometimes after a busy dinner a Johnny Walker Blue on the rocks.

What’s your favorite pastime?

Spending time with my family, traveling and going out for dinner to see what other chefs are creating. Tomorrow night I’m going to check out Harold Dieterle’s Kin Shop. I’ve heard good things about it; because I grew up in Thailand, I am curious to see how he interprets the food.