Hailing from his native island of St. Croix, self-taught chef Ralph Motta has been passionate about food since he grew up as a child on his family’s goat farm. His Feastly menus showcase the unique flavors of St. Croix, using local ingredients sourced from neighborhoods around his home in Manhattan, New York. Guests at his supperclubs (aptly named Motta Cuisine) enjoy artistically prepared dishes stemming from a history that dates back five centuries. Growing up speaking St. Croix’s native Crucian dialect, Ralph’s come a long way to share his story and cuisine with NYC’s hungriest eaters.
1. What is food to you?
Food to me is a whole body experience. While growing up I lived on a small farm where we raised goats for their meat as well as grew local produce for the house. This practice of farming shaped my ideas of food consumption and understanding how the animals were raised and where the produce came from at a very young age.
2. How and when did cooking come into your life?
It wasn’t so much so that I loved to eat, as it was a love for learning and playing. When I was in the 8th grade I took a Home Economics course designed to teach us how to properly use tools in a kitchen as well as how to cook from recipes. This intro sparked an interested that never burned out. It wasn’t long after when I began hounding my Mom and Dad to teach me their skills every time they stepped into the kitchen.
3. Who is your food role model?
My food role model would have to be my grandmother. I say that because every time she prepares a dish, there’s centuries of traditions/history behind it.
4. What do you love about hosting with Feastly?
The ability to turn my apartment into a full functioning restaurant on the weekends while meeting and entertaining diverse groups of New Yorkers.
5. What are you cooking goals/dreams right now? And in the long run?
Presently I would love to see my Feastly events become more popular as we expand our seating capacity for the Feastly community. In the long run I’m hoping to promote my brand and expand my catering services to more than just NYC.
6. Favorite meal/feast you’re ever had?(Yes, in your whole life, if you could choose one!)
An ostrich fillet while on a high school trip to Cape Town, South Africa.
7. What’s your most memorable moment hosting strangers at a dinner party?
Someone once asked if they could be excused and then got up in the middle of a meal and walked over to my futon and just passed out for 15 minutes.
8. What’s the one thing you always keep in your fridge?
9. What is the go-to dish you make for yourself when home alone?
Pan seared steak with roasted brussels sprouts & creamy potato puree.
10. Weapon of Choice (in the kitchen):
Immersion Blender. This one gadget can can aid in producing about half of the dishes I make on a regular basis. Usually means less dishes to wash!
11. You’re stranded on a desert island. You can only have one ingredient, but unlimited amounts of it. What is it?
12. A fun food fact:
Mix together a little mayo, lemon juice and flavored spice of you choice for a quick aioli recipe. Guest will instantly be impressed.
13. What’s the cheesiest food pun:
It takes two to mango.
14. Like the Sriracha craze of 2014, what’s a food trend that you’ve heard of lately?
Matcha Green Tea