Staten Island’s cooks: How we discovered to cook | Pamela’s Foods Support Diary

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — If the pandemic taught us a person issue it was to fend for ourselves in the kitchen area underneath quarantine. But how did some of us master how to cook dinner in our youth?

Mike Cappucci

Mike Cappucci and his late grandmother, Veronica Facella, who taught the chef how to prepare dinner at a young age. (Courtesy of Mike Cappucci)

We caught chef Chef Mike Cappucci of Castleton Corners’ The Regional searching in Lidl at the Staten Island Shopping mall just lately and questioned in which he to start with uncovered to cook dinner. Cappucci credits his grandmother for food items schooling in his early years. She lived Upstate with massive gardens and Rhode Island red chickens. She took Mike along to hunt wild cardoons in the woods and alongside roads. This vegetable appears to be like like a celery stalk with a thistle on leading, a member of the artichoke loved ones.

Urban Gardens of Eden

Cultivated cardoons. LC- THE OREGONIAN

“They glimpse like elephant ears when they expand in the wild,” reported Chef Mike.


Cardoons developed in the wild. (Staten Island Progress/Pamela Silvestri)

Cardoonia was the very best matter you ever ate, certainly identical to an artichoke. And you have to use the wild kinds, you just can’t use the types from the keep. I acquired that from her,” said Cappucci, introducing with a chuckle, “Look exactly where I am these days. It is even now all about the foodstuff!”


– Ed Canlon at Canlon’s in Oakwood with new tabletops. Ed CanlonEd Canlon

Chef Eddie Canlon of Canlon’s Cafe in Oakwood stated, “My family members acquired the Esquire Club when I was a sophomore in Monsignor Farrell. My mothers and fathers sat me down and reported, ‘From now on you have to quit your more curricular functions.’ I was 16.”

Canlon started out as a busboy and dishwasher. He played “gopher” for the restaurant’s cooks and line cooks about the several years.

“Even even though I was pressured into it I fell in appreciate with it from the get started. They taught me all their insider secrets and I was a sponge,” reported Canlon. His initially dish skillfully was Hungarian Beef Goulash, a massive vendor in the ’70s and early ’80s with an normal of 75 orders going out the kitchen area door a working day.


– Chef Eddie Canlon and wife Jeanne Ferrantino-Canlon now operate the Monsignor Superior College cafeteria in Oakwood. They also have Canlon’s just close to the corner. (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Silvestri)Pamela Silvestri

Said Canlon, “I would butcher a shoulder clod, a minimize best for stews. Then I would put that in a pot with a minor water and bay leaf and allow it simmer for 90 minutes and then I would saute some chopped onion in bacon unwanted fat. I’d insert paprika and tomato paste, simmer for an hour until finally the meat is fork-tender. It was a simple dish.”

He acquired to riff on that simple food about the many years. He claimed, “If you increase mushrooms, product and omit the tomato sauce and you have obtained a stroganoff.”

The Chopped champ recently culled from the activities of the formative food years to contend on Food stuff Network’s “Kitchen Crash.” We’ll see the results of people initiatives and bandwidth on Episode 103 airing on Feb. 3. The display, by the way, features tons of Staten Island shout outs which include mentions of his Farrell alma mater.

Susan DiGiovanni-DiCanio

Susan DiGiovanni-DiCanio grew up as a single of 5 siblings and designed a deep appreciation for getting ready Italian food items,. (Courtesy of Susan DiGiovanni-DiCanio)

Susan DiGiovanni DiCanio of Graniteville shared, “My fondest recollections of understanding to cook dinner was from my Mother who experienced to cook dinner two foods just about every working day — 1 for my Pop who worked afternoons until eventually midnight — and then once more for all of us five young children every night. We all sat with each other to enjoy her great meals and communicate about our working day. I was so blessed coming from a big household and obtaining so numerous fantastic recollections.”

DiCanio said, “Of program becoming Italian, meals was a significant section of my life and I desired to study all about it.”

She also liked cooking demonstrates. At about 7 years aged, she viewed Julia Kid.

Susan DiGiovanni-DiCanio

Susan, siblings and parents all around a birthday cake,. (Courtesy of Susan DiGiovanni-DiCanio)

“The French dishes she cooked impressed me so substantially. The Galloping Connoisseur was my next favorite display — he designed foods enjoyable to make and so delightful,” mentioned Di Canio.

“Queen” Martha Stewart also served as a fantastic job design.

Reported Di Canio, “I truly started cooking applying her recipes everyday and my love for baking was from seeing her clearly show and looking through her books.”

Susan DiGiovanni-DiCanio

The DiGiovanni-DiCanio clan savors time around the desk, a time to capture up and speak about cooking the subsequent meal.

Personally speaking, I discovered how to cook dinner mainly out of requirement beginning at about 10. At that time my mom showed indicators of Multiple Sclerosis with signs that involved vertigo and excessive tiredness. So, it was tough for her to raise casserole dishes to put into the oven. With her coaching, very first dishes incorporated scrambled eggs and American cheese omelets — a lot of that. But like figuring out how not to make the washing equipment rock-wander throughout the basement ground, the very best dishes arrived from balance — and understanding from previous disasters.


The things you figure out as a child, like inexperienced eggs ‘n’ ham. To do this scramble 2 eggs with 2 tablespoons each and every (or a tiny more) of chopped parsley and scallion or chives. You start off with a non-stick skillet and a pat of butter. Include the veggies and then the egg. Turn the heat off and complete with a pat of goat cheese. Provide with ham. (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Silvestri) Staff-Shot

For case in point, it was an eye opener figuring out copious dashes of soy sauce in Rooster Chow Mein created with canned Asian veggies. Soy sauce with now flavorful geared up things turns a dish into a salt bomb. Exact goes for a 10-calendar year old’s science project intended to be Chicken Cordon Bleu. With the ham, Swiss, already briny breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese, there’s more than enough sodium for a loved ones of 40. But on those nights of fiascos my dad and mom didn’t mind the followup with scrambled eggs and — immediately after lots of, quite a few accidents — edible environmentally friendly eggs and ham.

Keep in touch.

Pamela Silvestri is Advance Food stuff Editor. She can be arrived at at [email protected].