Get to know Chef Argoso!September 20, 2016 5:52 pm
At Spats Restaurant, freshness, international inspiration and elegance are always on the table.
Roasted red pepper aioli, smoked gouda, Vera Cruz sauce— they’re the creative touches of our esteemed Executive Chef, Rick Argoso. He creates farm-fresh meals that are fresh, upscale and just as scrumptious as they look!
“I like to take all the global cuisine that I’m familiar with from working with different chefs, and putting that knowledge into my creations,” Rick said.
A global background
Without a doubt, he’s an international chef. His career has swept from Canada to the cosmopolitan world of Washington, D.C. And Rick’s resume is equally cultured. Not long after college, his passionate spark caught the attention of InterContinental’s Executive Chef Didier Montarou. The French master honed Rick’s skills, and exposed him to the art of banquet preparation.
“Organized chaos, they call it!” Rick said. “I enjoy the rush of the kitchen. Everything happens at once, with multiple banquets going out at the same time. And you organize the chaos, where everything falls in sync.”
Rick then rose to Chef du Cuisine at Table 45, InterContinental’s sleek, glamorous restaurant in Cleveland. The refined establishment has a reputation for zesty international fare, thanks to award-winning maestro Zachary Bruell. Together, master and apprentice spurred Table 45 on to win the Silver Spoon Award for Best New Restaurant in 2008.
In 2010, Belgian native Luc Dendievel, executive chef at Willard InterContinental in Washington, D.C. at the time, encouraged Rick to join his team. It was an irresistible offer. Glamor aside, the capital’s legendary hotel has attracted some of history’s biggest names: President Abraham Lincoln, Reverend Martin Luther King, Charles Dickens, P.T. Barnum.
“I’ve cooked for the Royal Family of Dubai, the Royal Family of Brunei and former President Bill Clinton,” he said.
The job also came with other glamorous opportunities. For the 2013 Presidential Inaugural Banquet, he created menus for high-ranking officials, delegates and senators. He also served noteworthy figures during International Monetary Fund events.
Bringing fresh finesse to Spats
As The Blennerhassett’s Executive Chef, Rick brings that glamorous touch to our guests.
“I think I’ve vamped the Spats menu and dining experience,” he said. “I’ve tried to change the palate of the guests here in Parkersburg.”
His Continental, French and American entrees appeal to every taste imaginable. What’s more, each dish shines with freshness and creativity.
“I’ve put a lot of passion into the menu, and the food you are eating is the freshest possible that you’ll get in a restaurant,” he said.
To him, farm-to-table dining is just the natural choice.
“Growing up, I used to watch the original Iron Chef on TV,” Rick said. “I always thought about the quote they would say: ‘Tell me what you eat, and I’ll tell you what you are.’ I never really thought about the meaning of that until I got into cooking.”
With that philosophy in mind, he constantly scours Appalachia for ingredients. He collects vegetables from Witten’s Farm and Chesterhill Produce Auction in Ohio, among other places.
“If you haven’t been [to the auction], you should go,” he said. “You can talk to the farmers who picked all the produce and experience what freshness is all about.”
Remastering the menu
You can definitely taste the difference at The Blennerhassett:
- The wholesome culinary experience starts with breakfast, when you can order fresh-crafted options like Bourbon-Battered Brioche French Toast or Royale Eggs Benedict simmering with smoked salmon, farm-fresh eggs, rissole potatoes and Hollandaise sauce.
- Lunch and dinner are just as imaginative and fresh. Start your meal with hummus, a small plate garnished with feta, cherry tomatoes, Kalamata olives and paprika. You won’t regret the Mediterranean vibrancy of the fried calamari, either. And the accompanying lemon sriracha aioli and grilled lemon harmonize perfectly.
- Under Rick’s guidance, even the classic sandwiches get a gourmet reimagining. Like the Pressed Italian Sandwich starring Genoa salami, basil pesto, provolone and roasted tomatoes. And the Fried Chicken Breast Sandwich bursts with flavor. Our chefs bread and fry the pickle-brined meat and arrange it with bibb lettuce, roasted garlic mayonnaise, tomatoes and a Hawaiian bun.
- Even the humble burger gets spiffed up at Spats. Vegetarians will appreciate the Black Bean, which Rick dresses it up with cashews, feta, chipotle and roasted red pepper aioli. And if you’re a beef lover, The West Coast zings your palate with fresh salsa, guacamole, fried onions and sriracha Monterey Jack.
- You can also choose Italian pastas, sophisticated salads (try one with blackened Cajun-style chicken!) and diverse main courses.
“I don’t know if I have a true style of cooking,” Rick said, modestly. “But I do like to try and take classic dishes and put little twists behind them.”
Need a recommendation? The Portuguese Chicken is Rick’s favorite on the menu (for now.)
“It seems very simplistic, but once marinated, cooked sous vide and finished on the grill to get that great char flavor on it, it’s fantastic!” he said. “But I’ve also had to put poutine on the menu to support my Canadian heritage. Fresh-cut fries, white cheddar cheese curds and Guinness gravy! Delicious!”
With Rick’s memorable cuisine as our centerpiece, we turn dining at The Blennerhassett into a complete upscale experience.
Sink into our stuffed, taffy-colored leather chairs in the Spats’ Lounge, and pair your meal with a selection from our award-winning wine list. Our collection of 550 vintages has earned Wine Spectator’s prestigious “Best of Award of Excellence” 10 times!
“We have a great amount of wine with a lot of different varietals,” Rick said. “As a result, we can accommodate all types of palates.”
Staff can guide you to the vintages that best match Rick’s entrees. If beer is more your taste, our tap list highlights our state’s best breweries like North End Tavern, Big Timber, Greenbrier Valley Brewing, Mountain State and Bridge Brew Works.
Bonus tip: if you ever visit us during spring or summer, dine al fresco with our outdoor patio and courtyard. Flowers and landscaped garden aside, you’ll also see where Chef Argoso grows his own herbs!
Even if you’ve already dined with us, come again! We never rest on our laurels— and neither does our chef.
“During downtime, I’m always looking at menu development or seeing what’s out there for trends,” Rick said. “Playing with flavors, seeing what works and what doesn’t. I enjoy bringing new ideas to my cooks and to my guests.”