We’re all aware of the old joke about airline food, but with Todd English preparing the dishes for Delta Airlines, that joke might soon become more stale than the packages of airline peanuts. A Culinary Hall of Fame inductee, Todd originally went to Guilford College on a baseball scholarship but decided to follow his dreams and transferred to the Culinary Institute of America in 1978.
After graduating, Todd went to work under Jean-Jacques Rachou at La Cote Basque in New York before moving to Italy to further refine his skills. Returning to the U.S. at the age of 25, Todd resumed his cooking career stateside as the executive chef at Michela’s in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Todd remained there for three years before opening the original Olives restaurant in Charlestown, Massachusetts in 1989. Named “Best New Restaurant” by Boston magazine and the recipient of the “Best Food” and “Top Table” awards from Gourmet magazine, Olives drew heavily on modern Mediterranean cuisine. The original location has since closed, but there are still two outposts in Mexico City and at the Bellagio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
Based on the success of Olives and Todd’s fifteen other restaurants, it’s safe to say that his inclusion on this list was a foregone conclusion.
Specialties & Resources
Todd’s dedication to Italian cuisine has led to the creation of a dynamic and impressive menu at Olives as well as at Figs (Todd’s Neapolitan-style pizzeria). At Olives, offerings include Hudson Valley foie gras with spiced Greek yogurt, caramelized pears, wilted spinach, brioche toast and Chablis gastrique; beef carpaccio with gorgonzola polenta, parmesan, Cipollini onions, balsamic reduction, scallion cream and garlic aioli; Portobello flatbread with wild mushroom puree, herb roasted Portobello mushrooms, red onions, fontina cheese and white truffle oil; butternut squash tortelli with brown butter, amaretto cookies, sage and parmesan cheese; agnolotti with burgundy-braised veal, fontina fonduta, white truffle burro fuso and crispy prosciutto; cast-iron corvina with ginger-soy marinade, shishito whipped potatoes, roasted cauliflower & fried shrimp insalata; atlantic salmon with panzanella salad, red onion, cucumber, tomatoes, sherry vinaigrette and lemony micro mix; and beef tenderloin with buttered asparagus, lobster whipped potatoes and red wine demi-glace.
At Figs, pizza options include fig & prosciutto with crispy rosemary crust, fig & balsamic jam, gorgonzola and prosciutto; spicy shrimp with tomato sauce and caramelized leeks; crispy eggplant with sliced tomatoes, mozzarella, herbed ricotta and basil; crispy calamari with hot cherry peppers, arugula salad and lemon aioli; and roasted pulled chicken with basil oil, caramelized onions & provolone.