By Charles Dubow
Photo by Serge Madikians
There are two reasons to visit Serevan in Amenia: delicious food and Serge. Gregarious and charismatic, Serge Madikians opened his restaurant in 2005 and his unique blend of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and American cuisines have made him one of the Hudson Valley’s most popular and award-winning chefs.
“I am an Armenian from Iran,” he says proudly. “I have lived in America for more than 40 years
and my cooking is inspired by both my past and my present.” As a result, his food is unlike any other restaurant in the state, if not the country. In fact, it may be unique in the world.
On a recent visit to the charming converted farmhouse that is Serevan, the menu offered such cross-cultural pleasures as Armenian Yogurt Soup with barley, black currants, fresh herbs, and curry oil; chicken bastilla (a kind of filo pie) with golden raisins, and apricot-saffron broth; rack of lamb with labneh, medjool dates, dried limes, and Persian-style basmati rice; and diver scallops with Sky Farm greens, merguez lamb sausage, oranges, and potatoes.
A special word about the scallops—indeed about all of Serge’s seafood. “I don’t take deliveries,” he says. “I pick everything myself. Sometimes I drive into the Bronx to buy my fish but ten years ago I learned how to fly. Now I fly to Cape Cod to get fish.”
Serge didn’t become a chef until he was in his thirties. He had been working in New York City for the Giuliani Administration when some friends, knowing that he enjoyed cooking, gave him a present of lessons at the French Culinary Institute in Soho. “It was an eye-opening experience. I had been a pianist, dancer, and choreographer in my youth and cooking brought me the same feeling of excitement and invigoration. In less than a month I decided that cooking was what I wanted to do with my life.” He went to work for Jean-Georges Vongerichten and David Bouley, and eventually opened Serevan. “Here in Amenia I can share the grace and beauty and elegance of my culture,” he says, “and that calms my heart and keeps me close to my own truth.”
6 Autumn Lane, Amenia, serevan.com