Richard Desmond has made a name for himself at several of Long Island’s restaurants as "The Singing Chef" due to his love for opera. He can be heard singing in the kitch of in the Hauppauge industrial park when he's happy.
Desmond earned his reputation as a chef and singer while prevoiusly working at The Village Bistro in East Setauket, Dandelions in Westbury, Bliss in East Setauket and Public House 49 in Patchogue.
Q: How long have you been a chef?
Desmond: “Let’s see. I lived in England in the early 90s. I was in a heavy metal band called Sabbat. I also lived in Switzerland. I came back around 1993, and from there went to the French Culinary Institute. I’ve been a chef for about 18 years.”
Q: What made you want to cook for a living?
Desmond: “When I was in Europe, I went to these great restaurants and ate great food. I said to myself, ‘Why don’t we have this type of food in the United States?’ In the Long Island area, we really only had Sizzler and rib joints at the time. Restaurants didn’t start exploding on Long Island in the 1990’s. There were a couple of French places here and there, but there were a lot of places with a baked potato and same old vegetable on every plate. It was food that didn’t take much thought to make. It was uninspired. When I lived in Europe, being there was very inspirational for me.”
Q: "People call you, “The Singing Chef.” What do you like to sing and why?"
Desmond: “I like to sing anything from full blown arias of Verdi and Puccini… great Operas like Tosca and La Boheme … to the Carpenters and R and B. I love Katie Lang. I love women’s voices, because they’re higher in the register. I’m a tenor, so my voice is higher than the average male’s voice. I love Pavorotti, of course. There’s a likeness for me in Pavorotti as far as how we look. I love Franco Corelli. He’s an incredible Italian tenor. Just spectacular. I love beautiful voices. Singing makes me happy.”
Q: Do you just sing in the kitchen, or do you perform in the restaurant as well?
Desmond: “Yes, I perform out in the restaurant. If there’s a birthday, I’ll come sing.”
Q: What’s your “go to” song?
Desmond: “Nessun Dorma”.
Listen to Demond sing "Nessun Dorma" in the video linked to this article.
Q: What advice would you give to an individual looking to go into the culinary field?
Desmond: “Be the best that you can be. Don’t waste time. Learn everything. See everything. Don’t just go to your job, do what you have to do and leave. You’ll never get anywhere. Make something special. Create your own techniques. Create your own ideas. Go to Europe. Go into Manhattan. Cook at really great restaurants. It takes years and years of hard work. Go into the bookstores and check out incredible books that come out from all over the world. You have to really consume it… then you’ll be successful.”
Q: How would you describe your style of cooking?
Desmond: “Contemporary comfort food. My cooking is not pretentious. I’m not out to impress you in that way. I want to satisfy your soul.”