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Chef Arlen Gargagliano – Winner of the Pepper Pak Challenge!


Arlen Gargagliano grew up in what seemed to her to be a magical time filled with cocktail parties, live bands playing Argentinian and Latin music, and a family that enjoyed food as much as they enjoyed their time with one another. Her beginnings set the pace for a life that required rich experiences through travel, culture, and of course, food.

Watch the Winning Video Here!

And so it began for Arlen Gargagliano. Her natural fascination with people and food fueled the person she would become. Her curiosity has created yet another layer of joy and experience and has brought her to her current endeavors as a party and event planner extraordinaire. She brings every one of her many influences to her clients and connects with them in a way that is both dynamic and grounding. She senses their needs and doesn’t impose her own.

What Arlen delivers to her clientele is the gift of her vast and varied experiences. She has lived in Barcelona, Spain, Lima, and Peru and has taught at the American School in Lima, where she met Sabine Hueck (also a teacher in Peru and now a top chef/cookbook author, culinary educator and caterer in Berlin). Along with her roommate Sabine, she regaled her Sundays at the mercado (local market) and cooking with Sabine. In fact, the two taught a couple of cooking classes in Berlin when Arlen went to visit her.

Arlen's Tuna Dish

Arlen, originally a journalist by profession, began co-authoring cookbooks but was thankfully convinced by her agent that she could do it on her own. Now, in addition to co-authoring 15 or more cookbooks, she has two cocktail/tapas books to her name; Mambo Mixers and Calypso Coolers.

Arlen is a lover of culture, food, and most importantly, people. In her own words, “my belief in food—and the power of food—is far reaching, and is married with another one; the power of stories. I’m sure that if we could all sit down and have meals together, sharing both tastes and tales, we’d have peace on earth.” Arlen still cooks a family meal for her parents (they live two houses away from her!), husband, children, and friends on Sunday evenings. Her goal is to build on the flavors of the Italian American dishes she grew up with, and add the Latin dishes she’s enamored with, and always play with some ingredients. Last week she made her signature guacamole (with toasted pecans, grapes, and a hint of chipotle), Pernil (roast pork shoulder), Gallo Pinto (Costa Rican style rice and beans), a winter salad (with roast beets, pear, and blue cheese) and her well-loved Dulce de Leche Lace Cookies for dessert.

Arlen's Winning Dessert

Tastes and tales couldn’t describe Arlen Gargagliano more perfectly. She brings both to everything she does. For more than two years she was the chef and owner of her own highly acclaimed restaurant in Tuckahoe, New York, Mambo 64, called “Great” by the New York Times. Currently, she is Party and Event Planner at Alvin & Friends, a dynamic, vivacious, and delicious (as she describes it) restaurant and more in New Rochelle, NY. She is also Contributing Chef and Host at Bar’Lees in Mamaroneck NY.

If you’d like to see Arlen in person and taste what she can whip up both in the kitchen and behind the bar, you can track her down at either Alvin & Friends or at Bar’Lees, on Facebook—or starting next week, at Westchester Community College. If you’re not in the NY area, we still recommend picking up one of her books to give you some inspiration in your own kitchen. Links to all her available works are below:

As for Arlen’s future in both food and life, she plans to continue cooking, writing, traveling, and celebrating!

How did we find Chef Arlen?
If you saw the Chef Challenge we’ve been running on FlashPepper.com, you’ll notice that Arlen was one of the competing chefs. Thanks to an introduction from our good friend Kate Schlientz of IntoxiKate we were able to connect with Arlen and fell in love with her passion for food.

What is a Peppered Chef?
Good question – a Peppered Chef can be a chef or foodservice professional that stands out in their field and exemplifies what we consider to be someone who is on the front lines of innovation, takes chances, and is an all-around interesting person.

Do you think you have what it takes to be a Peppered Chef or would like to recommend someone you know? Fill out the form here and we’ll be in touch!

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