Real estate attorney Craig Gambardella has always loved cooking, which he learned as a child at his grandmother’s house in New Rochelle.
“Growing up in an Italian family, you get plenty of training on Sunday afternoons,” said the 28-year-old Upper West Side resident, who recently whipped up three kinds of Stromboli and a Buffalo wing dip to serve friends on Super Bowl Sunday. “I learned from watching how my grandma did everything.”
Until recently, few of Gambardella’s colleagues at real estate law firm Belkin Burden Wenig & Goldman were aware of his hobby. But that changed last month, when Gambardella appeared on an episode of the Food Network’s “Bobby’s Dinner Battle,” a new show that pits three teams of amateur chefs against each other in a competition judged by famed restaurateur Bobby Flay.
Gambardella and his childhood friend Greg “Nappy” Napolitano applied to appear on the show at the recommendation of a friend, who was impressed by a four-day pig roast they hosted in the Catskills. In the episode they appeared in, which aired Feb. 13, they had only a few hours to concoct a three-course meal of ceviche, pork Braciole and fried bananas.
Unfortunately, they didn’t win. But Gambardella, who is a fan of Flay’s cooking and grilling skills, said he nonetheless enjoyed cooking for the Food Network star.
“Bobby is a really great guy,” Gambardella said.” I got to know him a bit on a personal level and I realized he was a hell of a businessman.”
Gambardella’s professional and cooking lives don’t intersect much. Gambardella, who focuses on landlord-tenant and foreclosure litigation, usually gets into the office early and stays late, which leaves only weekends for practicing his cooking skills. “People at work don’t know that side of me,” he said. “But after this, maybe they will.”
After all, cooking “is a lot harder than people realize,” he said. “Kind of like the law.”