Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Cornells loses yet another executive chef

Michael Pietrocola
I first experienced chef Mike Pietrocola's culinary skills when he was with The Clare -- later renamed Pietrocola's -- in Schenectady decades ago. Since then, like so many other chefs, he has moved around a bit and now he has yet another change on his itinerary.

After barely seven months, Pietrocola will be leaving the top kitchen post at Cornells in Schenectady next Monday for a turn at the Edison Club in Rexford. No announcement yet on who will succeed him.

His lengthy professional resume includes his humble beginnings as a teenager working at The Elm Tree Inn in Fort Plain, Montgomery County. He went on to study at Schenectady County Community College, and worked at the Van Dyke and the old Executive Suite in Schenectady before branching out into ownership as well as cooking, with the former Park 54 in Clifton Park and most recently Maestro's' at McGregor Links and the Mohawk Country Club before Cornells.

The change is just the latest in a string of changes at Cornells since its ownership changed in 2011 when Joanne Cornell Aragosa ran into financial difficulties and sold it to a group headed by former Daily Gazette publisher Jack Hume, his wife, and business partner George Ryon. At the time of the purchase, it was reported that they anticipated no changes in menu or staff. That didn't last, even though Aragosa stayed on as hostess for several years. She and longtime chef Armondo Cioccke left in 2015 after some difficulties with the new owners.

At one point the restaurant was closed for renovations, then reopened with a revamped menu and a new chef, the well-traveled Luca Brunelle (Reel Seafood, Brown's Brewing Taproom,Nicole's, etc.)  but he stayed only about three months before Pietrocola was hired.

Cornells is located at 39 North Jay Street in the city's Little Italy neighborhood. Phone: 612-7341.

• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail
• Go here to visit Dowd On Drinks
• Go here to visit Dowd's New York Wines Notebook

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