Meet Your Maker

James Rigato: A Chef Who Respects the Flavor

Photo from The Root Restaurant

Meet James Rigato. Rising star in metro Detroit’s culinary scene.

What’s your key to cooking good food?

“Seasonality anchored by flavor pairings. I usually approach something with what’s in season or what’s available, then tie it together with natural flavor pairings or some kind of manufactured flavor pairings. Sometimes you kind of have to force something to work together. [Recently] I did an event with a seared scallop and peanut mousse, pickled raisin vinaigrette and jalapeño oil. Those things might not all go together in different ways, but the richness of the peanut mousse with the sharpness of the pickled raisin vinaigrette, it kind of needs heat so the jalapeño oil brings it together with how fatty the scallop is.”

Is it hard to manufacture flavors together?

“No, I think you just need to respect them. You kind of have to build around protein or harmonize them. Manufacture might sound processed, where it’s more about harmonizing. I have to build a harmony of the flavors.”

Photo from The Root Restaurant

Photo by Jacob Lewkow