Chef Highlight: Chef Bob Abrams, Calissa

Bob Abrams of Calissa
Bob Abrams of Calissa
Courtesy Calissa

Bob Abrams, Executive Chef of Calissa Restaurant in Water Mill, knew from an early age that he was destined to be a chef. Watching his Italian mother cook family meals helped pique his interest and showed how good food brings people together.

As a teenager, he worked in pizzerias and delicatessens observing chefs and learning techniques which drove his passion and lead him to start Culinary School at New York Tech. He spent his subsequent summers in school interning at 75 Main in Southampton. After graduating and spending time working in Florida and New York City he moved out east permanently. He was the sous chef at the popular Oasis restaurant in Noyac for 10 years before moving on to Executive Chef of Little Red in Southampton for 8 years.

In Spring of 2019, Bob was approached by James Mallios to head the kitchen at Calissa. Mallios and his partners wanted a local chef to help them advance from being a successful summer spot, to a year-round restaurant and multi-use event space. He has used his love of local produce and fish to influence the Greek/Mediterranean menu Calissa has today.

Even today at Calissa, he remembers falling in love with the atmosphere of restaurant kitchens. “The quick pace, timing and how independent processes come together to make or break a dining experience” is what Abrams loves most about the kitchen environment. The “anti-chef” in many ways, Abrams focuses on “food first,” as his kitchen has no space for egos or raised voices. In the silence he hears the hum of the refrigerator compressor, the sizzle from the pans, doors on the lowboys opening and closing and he knows he is home.

Abrams lives in Southampton with his wife Dara (a manager at Calissa) and his 10-year-old daughter, Anabelle who loves his Branzino and tacos.

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