Alfred Portale is brilliant, skilled, and seriously hard-working -- a chef with exceptional taste (a quality much too rare among the skilled chefs of the time). When he came to the Gotham, a restaurant with no particular identity and a demoralized kithcen, his talent was immediately apparent. In the next several months, he gathered an excellent crew, mastered a winning menu, won over managment to gain the product support a chef needs, and discovered his own real strength. Many chefs know technique and have clever ideas. A few are especially well trained and some have exceptional visual sense. Portale has all of these, plus exceptional taste. He already stands in the top rank of new York's young American chefs.