Meet The Team

 
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Christiane Gehami

Owner, Chef

Christiane moved from Egypt when she was just 6 years old.  As long as she could remember, her life centered around the food her mother made for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  The family never ate out, and the heart centered around the kitchen.  Her mother, for three months prior to her marriage, patiently taught Christiane flavors and how to marry them with food to create the dishes she loved so much. As Christiane marched down the aisle on that fateful September afternoon, little did she know, she was actually starting a love affair with food.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner soon started spilling out of her small apartment kitchen. She even created a fictionalized restaurant - Miss Marie's...only room for two. At the age of 33, Christiane enrolled at MCC in their culinary program, and entered professional kitchens for the first time, and never looked back.Christiane opened Arugula with Michael Kask in 1996, in the back of what was Oneta Gallery with 8 seats.  After the gallery closed, she expanded, kept adding tables and finally in 1998, closed for a month to remodel, add a kitchen, and reopen as it stands today.  Christiane cooks with love, it is evident in her dishes.  She enjoys the complexity and authenticity of food and is passionate about her wine list.  Read more about that here. 

 

Stephen Reynolds

Research and Development

Has been with Arugula BIstro for 11 years. Perfecting the ambiance, decor, and overall feel of the dining room for guests. He is an excellent server and a vital part of the team at Arugula Bistro. His expertise in cocktails, wine, beer, and cuisine along with his one of a kind professionalism, he continues to welcome guests and keeps them returning.

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Michael Kask

Chef

Christiane and Mike's friendship was forged over two decades ago at the Barney House.  After being let go from a prior job, Christiane and Mike opened Arugula in the back of an art gallery with only six seats.  While both Christiane and Michael create plates, Mike is responsible for plating and saucing.  Together, they have worked side-by-side for 22 years.  Michael is a life-long resident of West Hartford.  He has a son, who loves to come to work with his dad and cannot wait to join the team one day.

 

Shari Warbelow-Villa

Mixologist

Christiane had always dreamed of a tiny cozy bar inside of Arugula, similar to ones she had visited in France, but things never quite worked out until Shari showed Christiane that Arugula could serve spirits without a bar...Shari has definately risen to the challenge, like taking classic cocktails and making them her own.  For example, Arugula's peach old fashioned for a slightly fruity twist on a classic.  Shari enjoys working with fresh fruit and prefers to make all of our mixers in house.  one of our most popular drinks, The Blackberry Sage, combines freshly juiced blackberries, fresh lemon juice and sage.   Shari has been with Arugula since 2011 and looks forward to many more years.