In April 1992 — just a few weeks before graduating from Northwestern with a degree in communication studies — Megan Conway Romano walked into Charlie Trotter’s on Halsted Street in Chicago looking for a job in the world of food. Even though she had no formal training, she eventually landed a position in the kitchen, working for a few hundred dollars a week.
She was inspired by a childhood spent working in the kitchen and garden of her Connecticut home, where her mother grew vegetables and herbs.
In the restaurant world, Romano moved up the ranks quickly and landed a job at Aureole, Charlie Palmer’s renowned New York City restaurant. There, she worked across every station in the kitchen — and met her husband, Joe Romano, in the process. After that, she and Joe worked with Palmer to open restaurants from Florida to Las Vegas, where the Romanos spent more than a decade running one of Mandalay Bay’s flagship eateries.
More recently, the couple swapped Sin City for the more rustic Montana, where they run Urban Kitchen and Salted Caramel Café, which operate side by side in downtown Bozeman. Megan, who loves all things from savory to sweet, and Joe collaborate on the menus for all of their eateries, including Nina’s Tacos & Tequila and the Bacchus Pub.
“We absolutely love the great outdoors of Montana and the adventurous community of Bozeman,” Romano explains of the move to Montana. Unlike in Vegas, the Romanos’ children can help with service and prep work. It’s a long shot, she says, that any one of their three children will follow in their footsteps, “but for now they are earning some spending money and learning some very valuable life skills.”
Banana Cream Pie
We asked Megan Romano for a holiday season pie recipe. She shared the instructions for banana cream pie.
Ingredients for Pastry Cream
1 ½ lb milk
3 oz sugar
1” vanilla bean
3 oz yolks
2 each eggs
1 ½ oz cornstarch
3 oz sugar
½ t vanilla extract
4 oz butter
Slice 1” of vanilla bean lengthwise, scrap interior and place in saucepot. Add milk and sugar and heat to a simmer. In a separate bowl, first whisk together the cornstarch and sugar. Whisk eggs into the dry ingredients. Gradually whisk hot liquid into egg mixture and return to the sauce pot. Cook over stove, stirring constantly with a whisk. It will thicken quickly, leaving track marks. Remove immediately and pass through a fine sieve. Place butter on top, allow to cool for 5 minutes. Then fully whisk in butter and chill.
Ingredients for Salted Honey Caramel Sauce
4 oz honey
2 oz glucose
4 oz sugar
1 c heavy cream
Place honey, glucose and sugar in a clean sauce pot and bring to a simmer. Add heavy cream and cook on high until golden brown in color. Cool in a stainless steel bowl.
Ingredients to Assemble
2 sheets puff pastry
3 c heavy cream
2 9” pie tin
Spray the interior of one pie tin and the exterior of the other pie tin. Place one tin upside down on top of the puff pastry. Cut a circle 1” larger than the pie tin. Place the puff pastry in between the pie tins upside down and bake until golden brown—approximately 20 minutes.
To assemble, slice bananas, mix with pastry cream and place in pie shell. Whip heavy cream, adding sugar as mixing. Spoon whipped cream on top and finish with caramel sauce.