When Hells Kitchen goes into its eighth (yes, eighth) season next week, one of the contestants will be Vinny Accardi, a 30-year-old Maspeth boy who has spent time chefing in Queens as well as on the line in top-tier restaurants like Oceana and Union Pacific. Accardi was working in Vegas when he tried out for the show and blew the producers away (Im one of those guys thatll lighten up a room, he tells us, I have a habit of stealing the show without really trying), but weve just learned that hes coming back to Williamsburg (where his moms family grew up) to be the chef and partner at Vertuccios, the brick-oven pizzeria that will now get what Accardi says are classic Italian dishes with a modern spin.
This week, the restaurant reopened after two weeks off, with Accardis menu in place. Not yet offered is the signature dish he prepared for the shows first challenge: olive-oil-poached halibut with potato-fennel pure, roasted tomato, and lemon sauce. Was he nervous about Ramsays reaction to it? Not really. Vinny dont do nervous, he says. I aint intimidated by anybody. Accardi says that Ramsay tore a ton of people to shreds during the challenge, but he wasnt as bad with me. I seriously can cook. When you see me in the kitchen, Im dead serious and its all business. On the other hand, once my chef jacket comes off and I put on the velour suit and the hat, you can see Im from New York and I like to shoot the shit and have fun.
That said, Accardi was careful around Ramsay (in his opinion, one of the top ten chefs in the world). I didnt throw gas on the fire trying to piss the guy off. Owing to his contract with Fox, he cant discuss anything beyond the first episode, but he says he quickly surmised that he didnt have much competition: I could tell right off the bat that four of the guys had absolutely zero chances of doing anything at all. You knew they were just there to be made a fool out of, like lambs being sent to slaughter. He adds, I thought my signature dish was the best one out of every dish that was made, and Im not going to be shocked if other people think the same. So wholl be his competition? This guy named Russell, because he wasnt friendly or smiley or anything; you knew this guy meant business.
So there you have it. Look for Vinnie to go head-to-head with Russell when the new season of Hells Kitchen premieres September 22. And look for Vinnie in the semi-open kitchen at the new Vertuccios. His menu is below.
Vertuccios Menu [PDF]
Vertuccios, 232 N. 12th St., nr. Driggs Ave.; Williamsburg; 718-486-3900