Aug 042013

Chef Alex Nagi Makes Things Happen and Keeps Things Simple
An Upscale Pub, Good Chowder, and Great Service

by Caroline Cardoso

Chef Nagi and JB Blau, MV Chowder Company

The owners of Vineyard Haven’s new Copper Wok, Chef Nagi (right) and business partner JB Blau (left), owner of Sharky’s Cantina.

While you’re out hiding from the sun and scoping out the Island for a refreshing and filling meal, stop by Martha’s Vineyard Chowder Company. Awarded Best Chowder in New England this year by Yankee Magazine, the restaurant keeps up its island feel with dimmed lighting, boat and fish photos hung up among the walls, and a bright friendly smile from their hostesses greeting customers as they enter.

The menu varies from their famous clam chowder to a classic strip steak; though mostly famous for their fresh seafood dishes and raw bar. The atmosphere is one of a kind hitting all the right notes. In the wake of this island magic, Alex Nagi, manager and chef of the famous local fish house, is the master of the wonders that go on behind the kitchen doors.

To spice things up, Chef Nagi not only successfully fills the bellies of hungry customers, but he creates a relationship with his staff like no other. Saying goodbye to the summer employees and welcoming newcomers is not always easy, but Nagi never fails to keep the business going. This New England chef is the true meaning of a passionate cook. After working with many restaurants around the world—from Boston to the Caribbean—Nagi’s experience has grown.

Over the past 3 years his restaurant, the Martha’s Vineyard Chowder Company, has brought together all of his success from 5 years of private catering to restaurants up and down the coast all in one. And with good food comes a large crowd; you can bet the Chowder Company will be filled with satisfied bellies. With the opening of Copper Wok, a new restaurant in Vineyard Haven owned by Nagi himself and his business partner JB Blau, Nagi has a lot on his plate, but with a passion for cooking anything is possible and Nagi makes it happen.

TW How long ago did you know cooking is what you wanted to do?
Chef AG I definitely didn’t know when I was a kid. I didn’t go to school for culinary arts, it all just sort of happened upon me between jobs. By the end of the winter when I worked in St. Johns I knew this was it, I was hooked. I love the action and creativity aspects of it all and that made it so much fun, so I took it on and one thing lead to another.

TW When did you really start to cook as a profession?
Chef AG I probably started around the mid 90s and have been cooking ever since.

TW Tell me one interesting thing about yourself.
Chef AG I have a 1969 Chevy Chevelle muscle car that I take out once every two or three weeks and I’ll go cruising with a few of the guys from the local car club. It’s pretty fun, I love working on cars when I have time to, but outside of that, I love going out to sporting events too.

TW Because you’ve received so much experience from working with other restaurants, what makes the Chowder Company different than any other restaurant you’ve ever worked for before?
Chef AG This restaurant represents a lot of the experiences I’ve had in the past. It’s really the culmination of everything. When I was a private chef it wasn’t about my relationships with the crew, it’s more about the relationship with the people that you meet. Having these experiences as being a private chef and catering with other peoples’ tastes and demands, it all really changed my views and my mindset a little bit.

9 Oak Bluffs Ave, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557
Across from Flying Horses, 508-696-3000
Monday-Saturday 5:00–11:00pm • Sunday 11:30am–11:00pm

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