March 1, 2021 By Christina Santucci
A Sunnyside restaurant owner is hoping to get enough online votes to become the world’s Favorite Chef.
Vincenzo Garofalo from Senso Unico was ranked third as of Sunday in his group in the virtual competition, with the current round scheduled to end Thursday evening.
Each week, the number of contestants remaining is narrowed down to those who have received the most votes — until the $50,000 grand prize winner is announced on April 8.
The competition began Feb. 16 with more than 25,000 chefs.
“I like to do these kinds of things. Hopefully I can go as far as I can,” Garofalo told the Queens Post.
Garofalo opened Senso Unico, at 43-04 47th Avenue, with his wife Laura in 2017, but his passion for food began many years ago. He grew up above his grandfather’s bakery in Avellino, Italy and as a child, watched his family make homemade pasta, fresh jams, extra virgin olive oil and wine.
His restaurant specializes in Italian favorites like fresh pasta and seafood, and Garofalo described his signature dish as spaghetti with homemade preserved lemon sauce, red shrimp, licorice and mint on the Favorite Chef contest site.
“Mostly, we focus on real Italian food,” he said.
If he wins the competition, the money would be used to help alleviate the restaurant’s financial strain from the past year.
The pandemic hit Senso Unico hard. Garofalo estimated that business was down 70 percent in the first months that eateries were closed for in-person dining, but the worst time was in December, which is normally very busy.
“It was tough money wise,” he said. “The good thing is that the community responded.”
He has sought to keep his employees on the payroll — even if it meant they worked less days. “Our team is like family. That’s why we try our best,” he said.
Garofalo noted that Sunnyside neighborhood groups have also promoted his participation in the content on social media. “Everyone was excited to help me,” he said.
Garofalo said he had been drawn to the Favorite Chef competition because a portion of proceeds will go to Feeding America, a hunger-relief organization that works with more than 200 food banks across the country.
The public can vote once daily for free, while logged onto Facebook, or pay a minimum of $10 to make a “Hero Vote” — $1 is equal to one vote. According to the contest rules page, 25 percent of the proceeds will go to Feeding America.
To vote for Garofalo, please click here