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ID: Sanford D’Amato, chef, cooking school owner



Last modified: Thursday, April 16, 2015
Sanford D’Amato has had a stellar career in food — in November 1992, he was one of 12 chefs in the nation to be personally chosen by Julia Child to cook for her 80th birthday celebration in her hometown of Boston, and in 2007 at a Deer Park Buddhist Center luncheon, he met and cooked for the Dalai Lama.

He also cooked for the Salt Lake City Olympics and the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky, and for 11 years represented the Green Bay Packers at the Taste of the NFL, helping to raise millions of dollars for Feeding America, a domestic-hunger relief charity.

Sanford is the author of “GOOD STOCK: Life on a Low Simmer,” a memoir with recipes, and for 14½ years wrote a weekly food column, “The Kitchen Technician,” for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Sunday edition. He is currently a quarterly contributor to Edible Pioneer Valley, published in western Massachusetts.

His awards include the James Beard — Best Chef Midwest Award in 1996, and his Sanford Restaurant in Milwaukee was listed in the 2001 and 2006 issues of Gourmet magazine as one of the Best 50 Restaurants in America. In December 2013, D’Amato sold the restaurant to its longtime chef de cuisine. D’Amato and his wife, Angie, bought a home in Hatfield in 2008 and for several years split their time between Hatfield and Milwaukee. In July 2014, when he moved to Hatfield permanently, he opened a small cooking school in his home called Good Stock Farm. He and his wife teach small hands­-on and demonstration cooking classes, followed by lunch or dinner, using the produce and fruit from their gardens and the surrounding farmlands. The March 2015 issue of Food & Wine magazine recognized Good Stock Farm as one of the six best new cooking schools in the country.

Full name: Sanford Joseph D’Amato

People know you as: Sandy

Date and place of birth: Jan. 12, 1950, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Town of residence: Hatfield

Who lives under the same roof as you? My wife, Angie, and Leo, our elder bunny (10½ years old)

Children: Not yet

Education: Two-plus years at the University of Wisconsin, ­Milwaukee, then on to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York; I graduated in 1974.

Hobbies: Biking, movie watching, antiquing/flea markets, gardening

Books you’d recommend to a friend: “The Imperfectionists” by Tom Rachman, “Dearie — The Remarkable Life of Julia Child” by Bob Spitz

Favorite movie/TV shows/singers: Movie — “Goodfellows”; TV — “Breaking Bad,” “Game of Thrones”; singers — Taj Mahal, Stevie Wonder

Five items you can’t live without: Television, a sharp chef’s knife, fire, lettuce, news

Last thing you purchased just for fun: A 1935 German advertising poster at Douglas Auctioneers in South Deerfield

What’s at the top of your bucket list? A long­term Asian exploration trip

Life­-changing experience: Getting out of the restaurant business

Strangest job you ever held: Room cleaner at a hotel in Hyde Park, while attending culinary school. P.S. You should never leave the cleaning of a room to a young male student.

A little­-known fact about you: I saw the Beatles in Milwaukee during their first U.S. tour, in September 1964.

Dumbest thing you ever did: When I was in my early teens, I actually wore a pair of clam diggers with a rope belt in public (at the suggestion of my mother, who convinced me they were cool).

One trend or fashion you’d like to see return: I wish supper clubs with overflowing Lazy Susans were everywhere.

What really sets you off? Arrogance

If you could spend the day with a celebrity from any time in history, who would it be? Fernand Point, the chef/owner of Restaurant de la Pyramide in Vienne, France, in the ’40s and ’50s. He was one of the greatest chef/restaurateurs of all time. I would undoubtedly be consuming impeccable food and wine from his legendary cellar, all the while conversing with a genius of food and hospitality. His book, “Ma Gastronomie” (published in 1969), was one of the earliest influences in my culinary career.

Best advice you ever got: To find balance in my work life and personal life. I never did, but it was great advice.

Favorite place to get a bite: Sitting on the porch at Osaka in Northampton. It was the place where Angie and I were eating when we made the decision to move to the Pioneer Valley.

Favorite sports team: The Green Bay Packers. I grew up in the Lombardi years and bleed green and gold.

What does your ideal weekend look like? A day with Angie starting with a flea market in the morning, then a sunny bike ride, followed by an afternoon Packer victory, then a tasty dinner.

One thing you would change about yourself: Not over­-think everything

What gives you the creeps? I’m starting to gag as I write the words: circus peanuts — those puffy orange abominations they call candy.

People who knew you in high school thought you were: More in control than I ever was

Whom do you most admire? People whose life work is the same thing they would do if they weren’t paid for it

Parting shot: Be humble and never stop learning.

— Compiled by Brenda Nelson

To suggest someone for ID, send an email to bnelson@gazettenet.com.