The Huntington dining scene is about to get yet another addition when Babalu opens on April 19. The first solo project of Long Island boxer gone chef Alan Gotay, Babalu will serve up dishes as unique as Gotay’s resume.
Gotay started his boxing career at the age of 16 and fought as an amateur through high school. He turned professional at 22 and acquired some knowledge that lead him to venture into the food industry.
“During my professional career I had to teach myself about nutrition, cooking and eating healthy. My thirst for knowledge grew in both boxing and cooking, ultimately leading me to culinary school.”
He attended Star Career Academy in Syosset with two goals: “I wanted to learn as much as I could in the art of cooking and [I wanted] to graduate at the top of my class.” As competitive as ever, Gotay proudly accomplished both.
Star Academy wasn’t Gotay’s first foray in the restaurant industry. He worked at McDonald’s at 14. He then went on to work at Friendly’s for seven years where he was exposed to all of the facets of the business: waiter, line cook, ordering and management.
Following his graduation, Gotay went on to work for Michelin star-rated chef, Michael Psilakis, celebrity chef Michael Ginor, Bobby Flay and most recently at Armani Ristorante under Chef Michele Brigioni.
“Babalu,” by Desi Arnaz of I Love Lucy, is actually the African name for the patron saint of Cuba, St. Lazarus. Gotay said Babalu will pay respect to his Cuban and Puerto Rican heritage, along with some Mediterranean accents.
Tapas, entrees and desserts will all be on the menu. Think Spanish pasteles, celery root soup and a dish called ‘La Bamba’ featuring handmade linguine. There will also be fresh bread from Emilia’s Bakehouse in Melville, local olive tree olive oils as well as non-GMO meats and fresh ingredients.
Gotay also assures all items will be made fresh in-house. “I pride myself (as a cook) in being able to create as much as I can, right from scratch.”
Babalu will seat 27 in total including outdoor seating at 286 New York Avenue in Huntington Village.