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.

Some good news on the review front. We received a great review in the Food and Wine Blog. CLICK HERE

My seafood specials have been selling out each week so I am continuing to challenge myself and staff with more complex

and diverse seafood items. Check it out. Some great food photo’s out there as well

Dinner 3 28 12


Salmoni Crudo

Raspberry Cream Cake with Strawberry Rhubarb Gelato.

I am using Open Table to schedule on line reservations. Each customer who reserves on line is asked to describe their experience at

Calle’s Cucina. Some of the reviews, all unsolicited by me, are really uplifting for a chef to read.


Window at Calle's Cucina courtesy of Simon.





Ravioli with Carrot Cream

Turned the Tables Twice

Last night was a big nite. We turned the tables twice and kept almost everyone happy. A few mistakes but over all it was a success.

So in order to be a man of my word I must tell you about the not so great review in the Baltimore newspaper.  Of course I could offer excuses  or blame the reviewer, whom by the way is not the food editor but a blogger who contributes from time to time, but there is no point to that. Personally, I cannot read the review again but here  is a link if you desire to take a look. Review

My OpenTable and Chow Hound reviews are totally unsolicited.



On to bigger and better things. We have 40 reservations for V-Day and a special menu.  SPECIAL MENU

That will be the biggest challenge yet so stay tuned.