Executive chef finds home at Blennerhassett Hotel

PARKERSBURG- The new executive chef at the Blennerhassett Hotel wants to bring new flavors the area has not had in a while.

Rick Argoso recently started in his new position of being in charge of the kitchen at the historic downtown hotel in Parkersburg.

“I am very excited to be here,” he said. “I am excited to introduce food to people.

“It is my passion to be in the kitchen. I am excited for people to come and try it out.”

A native of Toronto, Canada, Argoso went to the Humber College Culinary School. He worked at restaurants in the Toronto area before working at hotels. He did an apprenticeship at the Intercontinental in Toronto.

From there he was transferred to the Intercontinental in Cleveland, where he became the banquet sous chef for a year and a half. He retuned to Toronto and became a junior sous chef at the Intercontinental where he was before, manning the line and taking other responsibilities in a fine dining restaurant.

He eventually went back to the Intercontinental in Cleveland where he was a banquet sous chef from 2006-2008. He then went on to become the chef at the Table 45 restaurant in Cleveland for more than two years.

Argoso then became the banquet chef at the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C., in 2010 as the Washington area is known for its banquets, high volumes and VIP guests.

Recently, he and his wife, Rochelle, had a baby boy, Ethan, and were looking for a nice community to settle down in.

“I thought it was time to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city and take it a step back,” he said. “With my son being only 11 months old, I wanted him to grow up in a nice small community.”

The recruiter looking for a new chef for the Blennerhassett called a friend of Argoso’s in Cleveland and asked if he could recommend anyone for the position.

“He thought it would be a perfect fit for me,” Argoso said.

He researched the area and the hotel online and thought it would be a good fit. He came here for an interview with the hotel management who told him about the hotel’s place in the community and what was expected.

“It intrigued me so I decided to come and see what I could do,” he said.

People regularly ask him what is his type of cuisine.

“With my experience and working at different places with different chefs, I have learned a lot of different styles of cuisine,” Argoso said. “I am really comfortable cooking Indian, Asian, French, Italian and Mediterranean.

“I try to use all of the flavors I have in my knowledge and come up with something fresh and that is more seasonal. I definitely love just nice clean fresh flavors.”

He is starting to reach out to local farmers and others to see what kind of ingredients are available and what can be supplied on a consistent basis. He is determining what he will be able to do and what kind of product he can bring here.

“Once I get that down, I can determine which direction I really want to go,” he said.

He hopes to be able to introduce new dishes through specials. That will allow him to see what is popular with guests and what might make it onto the menu he is preparing. He wants to do dishes specific for a particular time of year.

“When you are able to change a menu seasonally, people are really excited about it,” he said.

Argoso will have two sous chefs at the hotel as well as the usual staff for meals.

He is interested in bringing new flavors to the area for people to experience.

“I definitely want to bring the fire back up in the kitchen,” he said. “I definitely want to try to bring new flavors the area hasn’t really had in a while.

“I want to try to give them something fresh and new.”

He wants to build up the hotel’s dining business from the regulars who often come to the hotel to eat as well as new people and younger crowds.

“I like to introduce food to people and have them experieince something they may not have had before,” he said. “Or maybe it is something they have had before, but a new concept of it.

“I want people to know what food is really about.”