Q&A: Michael Scelfo

Exterior of Alden & Harlow
Galdones Photography

Growing up, Michael Scelfo preferred to spend his days lingering in the kitchen with his grandmothers and aunts, poring through his mother’s cookbooks, and watching cooking shows—so it was no surprise when he decided to pursue a culinary degree. After graduating from Western Culinary Institute in Portland, Ore., he honed his skills at a James Beard Award-winning Wildwood Kitchen in Santa Barbara before heading to the East Coast, where stints running the kitchens at Harvard Square’s Temple Bar and Russell House Tavern garnered the budding chef widespread acclaim. Scelfo opened subterranean spot Alden & Harlow in 2014, followed by seafood-focused Waypoint in 2016.

Boston’s best dish:

The Vermont Quail Kebob at Oleana is not new by any stretch, but it still manages to be head-scratchingly good. Utterly simple but huge on flavor, it’s an exercise in texture and temperature from one of the best kitchens in the city.

Desert island spice:

Hard not to be predictable here, but obviously EVOO, salt, and lemon are the go-tos for me for finishing and emphasizing simplicity. If I’m digging a little deeper, I would say I’m excited to introduce cardamom in more interesting ways in the year ahead.

Kitchen playlist:

Never not hip hop. All of it!

Favorite food destination:

That’s tough. I have lots of traveling to do and cities to experience, but I’m going to say Boston/Cambridge is my favorite. We have so many talented chefs doing awesome things, and more attention needs to shift toward this area in my humble opinion.

Cooking inspiration:

My family. It all started with them, and it’s a generational passion in my home. I’m happy to be cooking for them, and excited to see what the next generation brings. I think we have some young chefs in there!

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