Upstate chef finds new home at Coal Fired Bistro

By:Gwen Fowler


South Carolina Chef Gerard Cribbin of Coal Fired Bi​stro in Green​ville
Chef Gerard Cribbin of Coal Fired Bi​stro in Green​ville

Chef Gerard Cribbin is happy to be welcoming his former customers to his new home, Coal Fired Bi​stro in Green​ville.

Cribbin, who was the executive chef at Gerard’s in Greer from 2003 to 2009, joined Coal Fired as executive chef Oct. 7.

“It’s just been fabulous having so many people come in to see me,” he said. “It’s been a great experience.”

He changed the menu several weeks ago and plans to change it several times a year to take advantage of seasonal offerings.

Among the favorites he brought over from Gerard’s is grilled salmon with rose lobster sauce, served tagliatelle pasta with Alfredo sauce, and asparagus.

He also serves such favorites as penne vodka and veal saltimbocca.

“I do like a lot of the classics,” he said. “It’s important that everything is served fresh and everything is served hot.”

Coal Fired Bistro features a large bar where people can watch TV or mingle and enjoy specialty cocktails. The restaurant also has an enomatic wine machine so diners can sample up to 36 wines, giving the opportunity to sample a fine wine without buying a bottle.

“We have prime steaks, we make our own breads, and we make our own desserts from scratch.”

Cribbin has known from an early age that he loved to cook. By the age of 7, he was cooking breakfast for his family.

When he was 15, his family moved from Boston to New Jersey, except for his older brother who stayed behind to finish his last year of high school. Cribbin said he missed his brother, who is his best friend, and felt like a bit of an outcast with his Boston accent.

He began hanging out at a local pizza place to pay the pinball machine. He spent so much time there that the owner offered his a cleaning job. He worked two hours a day six days a week for $25, and about every penny he made went back into that pinball machine.

“So to this day I can still play pinball pretty well,” he said.

He also started hanging around after his two-hour shift was over to watch what was happening in the kitchen. He learned how to make pizza dough and Italian dishes.

After high school, Cribbin went to work for Chef Vittorio Testa at Cinelli’s in Cherry Hill, N.J. In 1983, Testa took Cribbin with him to Washington, D.C., to open Filomena.

During his 10 years in D.C., Cribbin had a chance to feed a number of celebrities, including Bill Clinton, Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino, Tom Cruise, Billy Crystal and Tony Bennett.

He then moved to Puerto Rico, and there he met Bob Conway, a businessman who lived part of the year in Puerto Rico and part in the Upstate. He offered Cribbin the chance to open Gerard’s in Greer.

After the death of his business partner, Cribbin joined The Cliff​s of Keowee Falls.

He is married to Jessamine Welsh and they have three children. He met Welsh when he was a chef in Washington, D.C., and she was a student at George Washington University.

“Once she tasted my cooking, she couldn’t leave me.”

Meatballs (Polpette)
(Recipe from Chef Gerard Cribbin)

Two pounds of fresh ground beef
1/2 cup of unseasoned bread crumbs
2 extra large eggs
½ cup of whole milk
1 tablespoon of chopped parsley
1 tablespoon of chopped basil
2 teaspoons of kosher salt
2 teaspoons of black pepper
6 cloves of roasted garlic (chopped)
½ cup of grated Reggiano Parmesan
1 ounce each of pine nuts and golden raisins (optional)
Makes approximately 48 one-ounce meatballs

Portion your meatballs with a ¾-ounce scoop for uniformity. Roll them out and place on an oiled sheet pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Put the balls into the finished sauce and simmer for one hour.

One 90-ounce Can of San Marzano tomatoes
4 Ounces of extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup each of diced carrots, onions, celery and garlic
½ Cup of fresh basil and parsley
2 teaspoons each of kosher salt and black pepper
1 cup of dry white or red wine

Heat the olive oil on medium in a large sauce pot. Add the garlic and sauté for one minute. Add the carrots, onions and celery and cook for 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Remember to stir frequently. Remove from the heat and puree with a wand hand mixer.