Posts Tagged ‘Baltimore Distinctive Home Dining’

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.







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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

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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!

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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.

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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

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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

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So, posts two days in a row. A recent record. I learned today that last Thursday night a food critic from the Baltimore Sun dined at my restaurant. I remember the table as we were not that busy on Thursday so the service was excellent. I had time to give each table a couple of samples (chef’s gifts) of dishes they did not order so that could not have hurt, I think. I learned this because I was contacted by email today to schedule a photographer and for some follow up questions.

The reviewer dined on my Artichoke Scallop appetizer which is a number 10 scallop (meaning 10 to the pound) very large wild sea scallop harvested off the coast of Rhode Island I believe.  The single scallop is gently seared and served with a confit of artichoke, raisin and orange. This dish was a big hit so I am thinking this is good so far.

Next she had the Braciole which has been a big seller and one of the few dishes on the menu since the day we opened. A somewhat Italian  culinary school friend of mine known as Cip, short for Cipriano Illiano actually tried my recipe and he liked it so I think I am good on this one too. The Braciole was taken from  the oven about 30 minutes before service so it was really fresh.

She finished with the Panna Cotto topped with a hot raspberry sauce. I had made the Panna Cotta a few days earlier so it wasn’t brand new but it holds well in the fridge so I am hoping she loved it. I remember giving her a sample of my orange marmalade gelato which was really tasty.


Dinner 2 2 12        Seafood Specials 2 2 12

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