In the Spotlight: Vincent Olivieri

Who is Vincent Olivieri you might ask? Well he’s the Fairway Market Regional Cafe Manager, but besides that he’s the man behind all of the delicious Fairway’s pizza, meatballs, sandwiches, buffalo chicken, and most of the other dishes served in the Cafe as well. Recently I got an amazingly generous delivery from Vinnie, five of his very own creations from the cafe. Alls I can say is — A-MAZ-ING! I wish my work was closer to the cafe so that I could go in everyday to grab another delicious bite. They guy is creative, talented and he really knows how to make fantastic food combinations that just work. He even got me to like tuna!! Currently reigning at the the new Fairway Café to Go, next door to the new Upper East Side store on E 86th street, he’s also finding time in his busy schedule to create the food for the cafes in the Stamford, Pelham Manor and Plainview stores, on top of wonderful additions he has made and is still making in the Upper East Side. So I thought we could all stand to learn a little more about this brilliant up and coming chef…

Vinnie is responsible for creating more than 40 artisanal sandwiches, dozens of pizza varieties, lasagna, shrimp, and more now served in four Fairway markets including Red Hook, Plainview, Paramus, NJ and Pelham Manor, NY. At 28 years old, this Long Island native is making his mark through his fabulous recipes and a genuine passion for creative cooking.

His food career began at the age of 12 when he started earning money serving sandwiches to campers at a nursery school/summer camp in Plainview. He credits his mom with instilling in him a great work ethic and a love of cooking. As a teenager he worked in a local pizzeria, a job he kept for seven years. When he wasn’t making and/or delivering pizza, he was cooking dinner for the staff and trying new and original dishes such as chicken cutlets breaded with cool ranch Doritos.

The 1st EVER Tuna sandwich I actually LIKED! Italian Tuna w/ pickled onions, delish!

Working for one of Plainview’s busiest restaurants where the line was out the door most of the time, gave Vinnie the ‘working under pressure’ experience he needs today. His boss was a great mentor, teaching him how to keep pizza and pasta ‘alive’ during the anti—carb craze of the 1990’s. By this time he was 21 his family, due to financial problems, had to relocate to North Carolina but he chose to stay on Long Island, supporting himself with a job in a marketing firm while going to Nassau County College for restaurant management.

Delicious Lobster Roll on a toasted bun, amazing!

The marketing job lasted a short time once he realized it wasn’t at all what it was supposed to be.  But, quite by accident, fate stepped in and Vinnie found his niche. An avid boxer, he would host Saturday night ‘watching the fights’ at his house serving a wide variety of foods to his friends  including baby back ribs with his own root beer BBQ sauce or make your own burritos with dozens of fixings. Turns out he always went to Fairway for all his food and one day while on a shopping trip someone from the cheese department recognized him from the pizza shop and suggested he apply for the café manager’s job that had just opened up.

Tasty Spinach-Artichoke Turkey Panini w/ caramelized onoins, fontina cheese & a bruschetta topping. YUM!

The rest, as they say, is history. As soon as he took over his new responsibilities, Vinnie redefined the pizza selections using fresh dough and all the finest ingredients found in Fairway. Then he began constructing what he calls ‘perfect’ sandwiches with the many different breads made daily in the store and, again, all the top of the line cheeses, meats, sauces, etc, that Fairway is famous for.

My fav of the bunch - The Mediterranean Sandwich - Balsamic Grilled Chicken, served on the best focaccia around!

Since he began at Fairway, five years ago, Vinnie has worked  his magic in the Pelham Manor store, where there is  a 60 seat café and  and in the Stamford, CT store overseeing the 80 seat café.  Each café has grown in size and includes hot foods of all types, sandwiches, salads, a burritos bar, pizza, burgers, Philly cheese rib steaks, lobster rolls, hot soups, cappuccinos, espressos and more – with Vinnie’s ‘signature’ on all the offerings.

The Rustico Italiano - A delicious vegetarian option packed with grilled veggies, topped off with shredded Parmesan cheese

The young chef loves what he does, is one of the hardest working people around, and is excited about all the new locations for Fairway Market, including the Upper East Side store which opened earlier this year and the Douglaston, Queens store opening in mid to late 2011. He still calls Long Island home and often checks in on the Plainview café where he started just to be sure everything served is delicious and fresh.

I’m telling you right now, if this guy can make me like a tuna sandwich, he can do just about anything!! Thanks Vinnie! Best of luck in the future.

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