Born in the hustle and bustle of Hell’s Kitchen, The Half King’s Executive Chef, Gregory Baumel unknowingly began his culinary career at the tender age of 14, while seeking out a means of making pocket money and with a recommendation from friends; he landed a position as a dishwasher at the old Harp and Mandolin Restaurant. Determined to be the best dishwasher they had, his hard work earned him the attention of the Chef who took Greg with him when he opened his own restaurant, Perretti’s Italian Café in Manhattan.
By 1980, after quickly moving his way up the ranks and working closely with Michael Weinstein & Ernie Bogan of The Saloon, Ernie’s and Sequoia fame, Greg became executive chef at Perretti’s. A two year apprenticeship with famed Italian chef, Sabastiano Santa Angelo gave him the opportunity to study under the very best of culinary guidance and widened his repertoire.
Following his pattern of a mix of good luck and hard work, Greg landed a “pan-jockey” position at the famed Quilted Giraffe with Barry Wine. Greg feels the experience and training he received there with Wine’s demand for excellence and perfection gave shape to the chef he is today. Greg grasped his chance to grow and used the experience as a turning point to break from some of his traditional French background and employ new Asian Techniques, opening up a new world of possibilities.
Soon, Greg’s rising reputation brought him to the attention of Mim’s of Syosset who secured his services to breathe new life into their restaurant. Within two months of Greg’s guidance and after a review by the New York Times, (Oct. 11th, 1987) he tripled the business and earned them a respectable two star rating. Although Greg left Mim’s stoves after two years, he is proud to note that Mim’s has grown to a second location and has just celebrated its 20th anniversary.
Taking the helm as Executive chef at the Half King brings him back to his roots at an Irish pub but with a literary and culinary twist. In Europe, such a combination has the newly coined moniker “GastroPub."
He’s been able to give the patrons expecting only great literary events a pleasant surprise; great food as well. His prowess in leading the kitchen unites his signature cuisine with the appearance of well known authors which has earned them great reviews from New York City critics like the New York Post’s Eric Asimov, “...One more thing sets the Half King apart from any writers’ bar I’ve ever known: food that you can actually enjoy.” Greg’s style adds his own unique signature to the Half King as he prepares stellar culinary creations.