Alexandra Sampaio has always been fond of fishing. Before entering her teens, she would go eel fishing and chumming and fishing for bluefish with her father Jack.
She was born and raised in Tarrytown and attended high school at Our Lady Of Victory Academy in Dobbs Ferry. At 16, she worked as a busgirl at the Westchester Broadway Theatre, the dinner/theater in Elmsford where her uncle Tony Dinis was the executive chef. Little did Sampaio suspect that one day she would take the same job her uncle had held for more than 30 years.
While a student at Westchester Community College, Sampaio signed up for adult-education BOCES courses in cooking and baking. “After only a few classes, I began thinking seriously about a career in the food industry or in pastry baking,” she said.
“I wasn’t that interested in cooking when I started working as a busgirl although I did like to bake,” she recalled. “My father, in fact, would have preferred for me to choose almost any other profession for a career.”
She continued, “But when he and my uncle Tony realized that food was the highlight of my life, they became my mentors and influenced me tremendously.”
Sampaio enrolled at the New York Restaurant School in TriBeCa (now The Art Institute of New York) in 2003 and after graduation joined the Greens at Greenwich, an upscale assisted-living facility in Greenwich, CT, as sous chef. Two-and-one-half years later, she opened B4, a 40-seat bistro in Valhalla where she ran the kitchen and her partner handled the front of the house.
After serving as Head District Chef for The Bedford School District, she joined the Westchester Broadway Theatre as Executive Chef on March 1, 2012.
Her duties include hiring, training and managing the kitchen crew and food wait service staff (about 50 employees for sold-out performances); she also determines the dishes that appear on the menu.
Starting in March, changes were made. For the regular menu, Sampaio introduced chicken picatta as an entrée, chicken cordon bleu as an appetizer and rice pilaf as a side dish; she brought back brook trout amandine.
She also changed the uniforms for the luxury-box server staff from tuxedo jackets to silver-and-black vests.
Although new dishes continue to be phased in, popular luxury-box items such as prime rib and pork loin are going to remain. Appetizers and entrées recently added to the luxury-box menu are:
- Appetizers: Chicken shish kabob and coconut shrimp
- Entrées: Lamb shank, veal osso bucco, and roasted salmon encrusted with horseradish and topped with lox
Two desserts to arrive soon on both the regular and luxury-box menus are red velvet cake and house-made bread pudding (made with fruit such as strawberries, apples, pineapple or peaches). Peach melba, long a favorite, will stay.
More buffet meals are coming. At present, buffet tables are set only on New Year’s Eve (a cocktail-hour array of appetizers and starters that precedes the sit-down dinner and show) and on Thanksgiving Day (full dinner spread).
Dishes planned for availability at later dates for luxury-box and/or regular menus include:
- Mediterranean/Portuguese speciality. Porco Alentejana—a pork and clams favorite of the chef
- Main courses. Eggplant Cannelloni over noodles, lemon garlic lamb kabobs with couscous, prosciutto chicken cacciatore, maple pretzel pork chop with polenta, zesty chicken over pasta primavera, veal scallopini, pan-seared tofu with ratatouille
- Seafood entrees. Monkfish with red pepper-basil sauce, tilapia with lemon butter capers and orzo, Salmon Wellington over ratatouille
The theater can accommodate 500 people for a dinner and show (including up to 80 in the luxury boxes).
Westchester Broadway Theatre, 1 Broadway Plaza (175 Clearbrook Road), Elmsford. Box office: (914) 592-2222.