Bloomberg Spends $245,000 of Taxpayer Dollars On Three Chefs at Gracie Mansion


bloombergMayor Bloomberg claims the city’s dire financial crisis has propelled him to order tough spending cuts for every city agency – but that hasn’t stopped the gourmet splurges at Gracie Mansion.

When Bloomberg came into office, there was just one executive cook on the mayor’s staff assigned to Gracie Mansion.

Today, there are three.

That’s right, three executive cooks.

This, even though Bloomberg does not live in the city-owned mansion, preferring instead his upper East Side townhouse.

The three cooks will cost taxpayers $245,000 this year, city records show.

The longest serving of the trio is Feliberto Estevez. His salary is $97,000.

Then there’s Jerry Montanez, the pastry chef, who became the second executive cook in 2007 – current pay $68,000.

Finally, there’s Jose Velazquez. He was promoted to executive cook a few years ago, and received a $10,000 raise in July to reach $80,000.

This is all quite astonishing, when you consider the threats of layoffs to thousands of teachers and other city workers, and the deep cuts in basic services.

Last fall, budget director Mark Page ordered an immediate 3% budget cut for police, fire and the public schools, and another 5% for all other agencies.

For the fiscal year beginning July 1, Page has decreed another 8% cut.

(Full disclosure, Daily News Editor in Chief Kevin Convey had breakfast with Bloomberg at Gracie Mansion in September 2010.)

So how does City Hall explain keeping so many cooks on the payroll for public relations events?

There has been an increase in “barbecues and receptions for agency employees and for representatives of different communities around the city,” Bloomberg spokesman Jason Post said.

The number of those events has jumped from 166 in 2000 to 278 last year, Post said.

The number of kitchen staff has not increased dramatically, Post said. There have been four cooks and one dishwasher at Gracie Mansion since 2005. It’s just that three of them are now head cooks.

“It is fair to say the mayor wantonly promoted his staff, but it is not fair to say we increased the number of people that prepare food,” Post said.

In other words, the mayor treats his kitchenhelp very well, thank you – and mind your own business.

If Bloomberg paid the hundreds of city employees who cook school lunches in our public schools and provide meals for our senior citizens the way he does his own executive cooks – or if he paid their salaries out of his own pocket, City Hall might have a point.

But he doesn’t.

Back when Rudy Giuliani was mayor, we got along well with just one executive cook, Anna Maria Santorelli. She even doubled as overall manager of Gracie Mansion.

When Ed Koch was mayor, he started the tradition of executive cooks, hiring a 23-year-old culinary phenom named Rozanne Gold.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure Estevez, Montanez and Velazquez are good at what they do. And the mayor should at least be commended for displaying a commitment to affirmative action in his kitchen that he has not in other parts of city government.

But has Bloomy ever heard of catering?

Certainly, “contracting out” is a term this administration knows well. Doing so for a good portion of those Gracie Mansion events might actually save taxpayers some money.

Sadly, this is a case of too many cooks, not enough cuts.

It is one more example of a leader who believes austerity is for the masses, not for those in charge.

{NY Daily News/}


  1. The man has made no salary save for a dollar a year since serving in office. The chefs cost less than a normal mayoral salary.