By Terry Rogers
Two new chefs began working in the kitchen at Abbott’s Grill when the new year began, but they are not unfamiliar faces. Paul Gallo returned to Abbott’s as their new Executive Chef and Andrew Hooven returned as the Pastry Chef at the restaurant. Both men have worked under Kevin Reading in various capacities for many years.
“I enjoy working for Kevin and I want to help Abbott’s grow,” Mr. Gallo said. “This is definitely home for me.” Mr. Gallo said that what brought him back to Abbott’s Grill was the menu style and the ability to serve a wide range of dishes. He said that the food served in Bald Jason’s Pub consist of casual, relaxed fare while the dining room consists of high-end dining options.
Andrew Hooven, who has been working for Mr. Reading in various restaurants since 1995, said that the atmosphere in kitchens Mr. Reading runs is what draws him back. He said he left over the summer to take a break and returned to Abbott’s when Mr. Reading called and asked him to come back.
“The restaurant industry is stressful enough, so you don’t want added stress from someone yelling at you,” Mr. Hooven said, noting that Mr. Reading is definitely not Gordon Ramsey. “I love his menu choices and that he makes working in the kitchen fun.”
Mr. Gallo graduated from Caesar Rodney High School and attended culinary school at Wesley College. He worked at Abbott’s as the sous chef and left the restaurant to work at Nage in Rehoboth. He said that working at a beach restaurant required him to work at a faster pace, but he missed the creative freedom he had at Abbott’s
“Nage is a wonderful restaurant,” Mr. Gallo said. “But it isn’t changing. The food will always be more of a haute cuisine with a French flair, while, here at Abbott’s, even the fine dining food is more causal with an American flair.” Mr. Gallo said that he has felt more than welcome since returning to Abbott’s as many patrons have taken the time to let him know they are glad he is back, either when they visit the restaurant, through Facebook or emails.
Mr. Hooven, who is a native of Brooklyn, has worked in all of Mr. Reading’s restaurants over the years. He worked at Espuma and Sweet Dreams Bakery before moving to Washington DC and opening the Nage location in that city.
“The food here at Abbott’s is more conducive to the area,” Mr. Hooven said. “Milford has a simpler way of life, it is not like big cities like DC or Philadelphia. People here are more likely to want meat and potatoes dishes, but Abbott’s still pushes the envelope a little bit. We do a lot of meat and potatoes in a unique way.”
Mr. Reading said that he is thrilled to have Mr. Gallo and Mr. Hooven back at Abbott’s Grill as the years of experience they bring is a valuable asset to the restaurant.
“They know what is needed to operate a large, multi-function establishment,” Mr. Reading said. “This allows me to focus on other matters that I must oversee as part of running multiple businesses.”
Mr. Reading said that Abbott’s plans to focus more on Farm-To-Table menus as well as returning monthly cooking classes to their event calendar. The classes will be taught by Mr. Gallo and Mr. Hooven.
“Abbott’s is a big part of Milford,” Mr. Gallo said. “I am extremely proud to be a part of helping build them to something bigger and better.”