Back in the legal world

Sometimes being back in the legal world is a bit hard to take and humor is needed desperately. My sister passed these on to me.

ATTORNEY: The youngest son, the twenty-year-old, how old is he? 
WITNESS: He’s twenty, much like your IQ. 


ATTORNEY: Were you present when your picture was taken? 
WITNESS: Are you shitting me? 


Click below for more good one.

Real Law Quotes

Go Raven’s.

Baltimore_Ravens_logo7   Two years in Baltimore and I am a raving Raven’s fan thanks to my former brother-in-law Johnny.

Making a baked ziti with chicken and  vegetables for the big event. Hmm maybe a Labatt’s Blue or 2 to wash it down.

So I have retreated to my home town of Olean to mend my financial fences after three years of globe trotting, business and personal misadventures all of which is chronicled in this blog. And the best thing is I am really feeling good about it.

Kate Sager at the Olean Times Herald wrote a really nice article OLEAN TIMES HERALD ARTICLE and I have been landing several new law and mediation clients each week. All good right?

knivesTomorrow I am teaching my first culinary class at Cutco Cutlery Company. Knife skills, because they make some hot ass sharp knives and Intro to Italian Cuisine because that is what I know. And, I am actually getting paid.

I must admit that I am still more excited about Italian cuisine than legal affairs but I have to pay the bills and I get to have some fun cooking at the same time.

I hope to get some good photo’s to use in my next post.

Stay tuned.






So, this is my 250th blog post and perhaps the most difficult to write.  My first post was published on December 17, 2009. Three years and six days ago. I felt so excited. So optimistic about what was about to occur. And boy has it been a great ride….mostly…..I think? fordSince then this blog has been view 31, 431 times and counting.

I think is is fair to say that I succeeded at least as much as I failed. My dream was to become an Italian Chef. A strange dream for sure but still it was my dream. And, I did it. I have owned my own Italian Restaurant, Calle’s Cucina, a white tablecloth-BYOB establishment in Baltimore Maryland. I succeeded in becoming an Executive Chef of a Italian fine dining restaurant, Della Notte, also in Baltimore. A job I really loved but learned within a few months I just could not do.

After 3 full months of long days in the kitchen, exactly what I had single mindedly prepared for for 2.5 years at that point, I crashed. Crollare, krascha, absturz, s’effondrer. Total and complete. Finished. I had reached my limit. I was utterly exhausted, consumed, kaputt.

My 54 year old body and mind just could not keep up the necessary pace. I learned, once again, that whether I like it or not, I have limits. Shit, shit, shit. But I cannot dwell on the past. I cannot “rest on my laurels”.

An idiom, right Giulia, which means “to rely upon past achievements and successes and not continue to work to achieve new things or new successes”. And I cannot let my sense of failure defeat me.

I have spent the past couple of months recovering and reflecting and my best alternative, seeing as though I have spent all my money and then some on this endeavor, seems to be to go back to that which I left. During the past few weeks I have rented an office in Olean, New York, my home town where I practiced law and mediation for over 25 years and on January 2 or 3 I start again at what I vowed I would not return to. I am in a corner and I need to fight my way out, namely, I need to earn some serious coin to get back on my feet. edison

I have built two websites during the past couple of week. www.vahllaw.com and www.peacemakermediation.orgto market myself and away I will go.

While this development feels like a defeat there are a number of benefits. I will be able to spend time on and financially support the Niger water well project and once I pay off a few debts I will be able to travel again which is something the commercial kitchen world typically doesn’t permit.

And, something that I will never loose is that I am a pretty good cook.

As they say, “the measure of a person is not how many times they get knocked down, but rather, how many times they get back up. And, I am getting back up again. I will get back on the horse and ride. My sense of being a failure will diminish in time and if I heed my limitations who knows what is in store………… to be continued.

PS. Anyone need a will, divorce, corporation or want to sue someone? Call me.

House made lobster ravioli with a red pepper, vodka cream sauce.

It is particularly pleasing for me when I am able to please real Italians with my food. It is special care, attention to detail and a dose of passion which makes the difference between ordinary and extraordinary.

Zanetti Unitravel THANK YOU

Based on my single experience with Francesca and Zanetti Unitravel I can recommend them highly.




Rare tuna with grilled polenta and marinara









Grilled Rockfish

Dinner Menu


The Marchesi Code.

The Marchesi Code.



Fried banana is a regular breakfast treat in the Della Notte kitchen.

Fried Banana

A great deal has transpired since my last post on April 23, 2012. On May 9, after several very disappointing months I closed Calle’s Cucina. I had counted on business picking up in April and it did not. So, with great heart ache I locked the doors. I was disillusioned and a bit depressed. So, I jumped on a plane and spent so soul searching month in Sweden. Great weather and no stress was just what the doctor ordered. While in Sweden I contemplated my future and applied to a few random Craigslist ads for employment as a chef in Baltimore.

I returned on Sunday June 10th with renewed positive energy flowing in all directions. On June 11 I received a response to one of my employment applications. I had applied to a blind ad for “Executive Chef needed for upscale Italian Restaurant in Baltimore”.

Since there are many Italian restaurants in Baltimore that consider themselves “upscale” I had no idea who was needing an Executive Chef. The call came at about 1:00 pm and I said I was in the area and could come right over and the GM said sure, so 30 minutes later I am meeting with the General Manager. Another 30 minutes later we agreed that I would start the next day, Tuesday June 11th at 10:00 am. I worked 7 straight days including serving 225 + on Saturday and Sunday, Fathers day.

Needless to say I have landed firmly on my feet. I held off writing this post thinking that I might just wake up and find out it was all a dream. I have secured pretty much my perfect job. How did it happen? After a 12 hour day I go to sleep looking forward to going to work the next day. I like the people I work with and they seem to like and respect me. I wake up in the morning anxious to get to work rather than being anxious about having to go to work. A 12 hour day, which is normal, flies by.

I am teaching a crew of 10 hard working, non-complaining kitchen staff how to make a stock correctly, how to properly portion fish and how to taste each dish to make sure it is properly seasoned. All the things that are second nature to me because of what I learned in New York and Italy I am teaching others and I am getting paid for it. Wow!

Of course, it is not all easy or stress free. I am responsible for ordering thousands of dollars worth of ingredients and supplies each week. I must source and negotiate prices on seafood, produce, meat and cheese. I need to reduce food costs, reduce waste and increase productivity and profitability. I have started working on a new menu which is planned to come out in September.

I am a true Executive Chef at Della Notte, one of Baltimore’s finest Italian Restaurants. www.dellanotte.com. We seat 250. Have a piano bar and 1300 bottle wine cellar. I have 6 line cooks with 4 to 13 years of experience at Della Notte and they are good and have accepted me totally. There is no screaming or pot throwing in the kitchen ever.

Two years ago I had been in Italy for just one month. I started my journey from Lawyer to Italian Chef two and one half years ago and now I am an Italian Chef. If I am dreaming I hope I don’t wake up. Thanks to everyone who believed in me along the way. Along the way  there were times when I was sure I would succeed and other times when I was sure I wouldn’t. It was not always an easy road. Passion and courage are meaningless without determination. And passion, courage and determination sometimes fall short without a good bit of luck. But one thing I know for sure is that hard work paves the road down which good luck travels and I did work hard, very hard.

So, while this is not the end of the big journey, it seems, quite unexpectedly, and out of the ashes of a failed Calle’s Cucina, I have reached my goal of becoming a real Italian Chef at a first class restaurant. A Swedish-American, Italian Chef.

I could not have accomplished this on my own. So many people have contributed to my success that I won’t try to name them all, but you know who you are and thank you from the depth of my heart. Ciao for now!

Great Compliment

I received a great compliment today from a freezer repairman of all people. My “True” freezer work station combo had stopped working last Friday so I needed a repair. I was very worried over the repair cost because I had bought it used and had no warranty. I suspected the compressor blew but luckily it was just the fan motor which was an easy fix for a mere $302.00. Ouch.

Anyway the repair guy, who spends his life in restaurant kitchens said “wow, you have a really clean kitchen which is really unusual in most places I work.”

Made me feel great because we work hard to keep our totally open kitchen as clean as possible.