Michael Lomonaco

Executive Chef
The '21' Club
New York, NY


Michael Lomonaco worked as a professional actor before following his passion for cooking to the New York City Technical College's Hotel and Restaurant Management program Upon graduation in 1984, Lomonoco refined his skills under French and Swiss chefs in some of New York's most prestigious restaurants.

In 1986, he joined the staff at Le Cirque where he worked under Master Chefs Alain Sailhac and Daniel Boulud. He then moved to the newly renovated '21' Club as sous chef and production saucier working under Chef Sailhac. He left '21' in 1988 to become executive sous chef at the legendary Maxwell's Plum. 11 years later, he returned to '21' as executive chef.

In 1991, the James Beard foundation named him one of "New York's Great Chefs." Lomonaco is also a leading supporter of Meals on Wheels, City Harvest, Share Our Strength and the March of Dimes. He has also appeared on Late Nite with David Letterman, The Today Show, Great Chefs of the Northeast and live with Regis and Kathy Lee.


Braised Rabbit with Pearl Onions,
Smokehouse Bacon and Hominy Grits


Recipe by: Michael Lomonaco, THE "21 " CLUB
Serves 4


  • The legs and shoulders of 4 rabbits
  • 1 cup pearl onions, peeled
  • 1 cup 1/4" cubes of slab bacon
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup canned crushed tomatoes
  • 3 T. dried tarragon
Hominy Grits
  • 2 cups coarse hominy
  • 6 cups water
  • 3 T. unsalted butter
  • 2 t. salt
  • 1 t. cracked black pepper

Render the bacon fat in a large deep skillet or Dutch oven. Remove the bacon bits and reserve on a paper towel, leaving the bacon grease in the skillet. sauté the pearl onions in the bacon grease until caramelized, being careful not to let them burn, then remove the onions and reserve.

Season the rabbit with salt and pepper and sauté in the same skillet until crispy and brown on both sides. Pour off any excess grease and return the onions to the pan along with the rabbit. Add the carrots, wine, and tomatoes, and cook together for 5 minutes at low heat before adding the stock.

Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, put a lid on the pan, and braise the rabbit for 45 minutes, or until fork tender and the meat is beginning to fall off the bone.

While the rabbit is cooking, combine the grits ingredients in a pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to a low simmer, and cook uncovered for 30 to 35 minutes, until the grits are fully cooked and absorb all of the liquid. Remove from the heat, cover the pot to keep warm, and set aside while the rabbit finishes cooking. When the rabbit is done, return the bacon to the pan, add the tarragon, and cook 5 minutes more before serving on a bed of hominy grits.


Roasted Squab with Corn and Chili Sauce


Recipe by: Michael Lomonaco, THE "21 " CLUB
Serves 4

This dish is particularly good in the summer or early autumn, when fresh local corn is available. Squab should be served medium rare to avoid drying the meat. The sauce can be made while the squab are roasting, or it may be made in advance and reheated.


  • 2 T. crushed juniper berries
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 squab
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Corn and Chili Sauce
  • 3 ears fresh corn
  • 3 T. chili paste
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 2 T. maple syrup
  • 2 T. red wine vinegar
  • 1 T. ground cumin
  • 4 oz. slab bacon cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 1 large onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 large ripe tomato, seeds removed, diced
  • 1 cup chicken stock

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F for 20 minutes. Season the squab inside and out with salt and pepper. Place the juniper berries into the cavity of the squab and brush the squab with olive oil. Place breast side down in a roasting pan and roast in the hot oven for 20 minutes for rare.

Meanwhile, in a heavy bottom sauce pot, over low heat, cook the cubed bacon until fully browned. Remove the bacon bits, leaving the bacon fat in the sauce pot. Add the diced onion to the bacon fat and slowly sauté until translucent.

While the onion is cooking, cut the corn from the cob, and set the kernels aside. Cut or break the cobs to a size that they will fit the pot, and add them to the cooking onions. The cobs will contribute a wonderful flavor to the finished sauce.

Add the chili paste to the onion corn cob mixture and cook for 2 or 3 minutes. Add the maple syrup, vinegar, and red wine, and reduce by half. Add the remaining ingredients, except for the reserved kernels of corn. Cook another 15 minutes, then remove the corn cobs and add the corn kernels. Cook for 2 minutes longer, then remove from heat and pour over the squab to serve.

This page originally published as a FoodDay article in 1997.

Copyright © 2007, Forkmedia LLC. All rights reserved.

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This page modified January 2007

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