Poor Sandra Lee is not the only one whose cooking has been criticized by members of the Cuomo family. Andrew Carmellini’s technique has also come under fire. Although Matilda Cuomo did not publicly disparage his lasagne, his lamb shanks once left something to be desired among the discerning Cuomo palates.
According to Carmellini’s 2008 cookbook, Urban Italian, the Locanda Verde chef, then a CIA student hired to work weekends at the Governor’s Mansion, was instructed to cook the dish on Sundays, lamb shanks being the governor’s favorite childhood dish. Carmellini obliged and then some, breaking out “all my fancy French moves” and whipping up an accompanying “many-hours-reduced” veal stock. The Cuomos did not send their compliments to the kitchen, but the plates came back clean as a whistle, and Carmellini filed the experience under the heading of no-news-is-good-news.
The following Sunday, though, as Carmellini prepared to launch into another veal-stock reduction, a sweatshirt-clad governor accompanied by his Sicilian mother bounded into the kitchen. “‘I brought my mom over,’ said Mario, in his thick, old-school Queens accent,” writes Carmellini. “‘She’s going to show you how to make the lamb shank.’” It was a great lesson in getting to know your customers, according to Carmellini. Now, he says, the Cuomos “still come into my restaurants and are super supportive.”