The Social Chef: Mogan Anthony's Dining Digs in Westchester and Beyond
The Hudson Valley has proven fruitful in a number of ways for Mogan Anthony, executive chef for the Village Social Hospitality Group. In the literal sense, Mogan is able to reap the Valley’s bounty, especially in summer months. Beyond that Mogan has found a community with residents who are knowledgeable about food and receptive to his restaurants, a place that affords people in the food service field a work/life balance.
Mogan has come a long way since starting as a sous chef in 2011 at the Village Social Restaurant in Mount Kisco. He now oversees three restaurants: two Village Socials (the second one in Rye) and Locali Pizza Bar & Kitchen, in New Canaan, CT. Scheduled to open by the end of this year is a second Locali in Mount Kisco, Pub Street in Pleasantville and an as-yet-unnamed quick-serve restaurant also in Pleasantville.
“The real estate up here is definitely less expensive than in the city, and with more than one restaurant we have better buying power and can take advantage of the great produce the Hudson Valley offers,” Mogan says. While his restaurants aren’t entirely farm-to-table, Mogan is a strong believer in supporting local farmers and paying them fairly. Some favorites of his include Hilltop Hanover Farm in Yorktown and Rochambeau Farm in Mount Kisco. Mogan, who grew up in Malaysia, points out that in his homeland, “There was no such thing as ‘farm-to-table.’ Eating food in season and having vegetables and grains in your diet was just a way of life.”
Mogan is bringing that way of thinking to his customers. The menus at his restaurants run the gamut from killer grilled cheese (for those looking for comfort food) to braised pig foot. There are vegetarian choices on the menus and a popular grain salad. To go back to his roots Mogan has Sunday ramen nights during the winter months at the Mount Kisco Village Social.
“Our customers are well-traveled and well-educated and want success for their neighborhood restaurants; they’re not as loyal in New York City.”
Mogan trained at a number of Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurants in New York City and says, “It’s great to spend time at Manhattan restaurants to build a foundation, but it’s easy for a chef to become burned out working in the city.” Mogan’s wife was a pastry chef and the couple found they spent little time together. “I offer my staff the chance to spend time with family as well as grow professionally.” Mogan and his wife now have a 2½-year-old daughter (they live over the border from Westchester in Greenwich, CT).
Mogan says the Hudson Valley community has allowed him to continue to love what he does and keep that hunger that’s behind every great chef. “I’ve gotten the chance to grow as a leader and keep my creativity.”