Anthony Gordon was a “kid with no direction,” he says, when he started working at Casa restaurants more than 16 years ago.
He didn't know what he wanted to do or where he wanted go, but he became a fly on the wall. Working under three chefs, he learned everything he could and immersed himself in the food at Casa and Italian cuisine.
And he grew into a position he wanted – kitchen manager at the Parnell location – and soon he'll be going somewhere he wants to go – Parma, Italy, where he'll compete in the World Pizza Championship as part of the U.S. Pizza Team.
Gordon earned his spot at the Sofo foods show in the fall, where he made a fire-roasted garden pizza that featured fire-roasted red pepper hummus on the classic Casa pizza dough crust and toppings that included fresh spinach, marinated artichoke hearts, marinated roma tomatoes, caramelized red onions, fire-roasted jalapenos, bell peppers and feta cheese.
He was inspired by the fall harvest and the ingredients that he saw shopping in the produce section of the grocery store.
It's the same approach he will take to the competition in Italy, where he'll be up against hundreds of chefs from around the world. There are 10 categories, and Gordon will participate in classico. He'll also serve as back-up in others.
The U.S. Pizza Team will arrive a few days before the competition, and Gordon will use that time to shop in the markets, shop for some pizzas and “come up with something great.”
“I don't have any certain pizza set,” says Gordon, who will be accompanied by Casa's executive chef, Al Tholen. “We'll cleanse our palate of Americana and engulf our senses (with the flavors of Italy).”
Godon, who has never been to Italy, is excited to try the salted and cured meats, melon, fresh seafood and wine.
As for the pizza, he wants to get a slice of his favorite – the margherita. While he makes it in the wood-fired ovens at Casa (fresh tomatoes, good cheese and good dough are key), he wants to immerse himself in the flavors and soak up everything he can … so he can bring it back to the Casa kitchen.
Thomas Parisi, director of operations for Casa, is also hoping the trip will inspire the crew and translate into new dishes.
He says Gordon's trip to the competition will be the second time in 15 years that someone from Casa restaurants has been chosen to compete in Italy.
The John Wayne omelet at Sunrise Cafe has American cheese, mushrooms and onions and is topped with chili and cheddar cheese.
It's a concoction that owner Mehrdad Dehmiri came up with and has stood the test of time at his Coldwater Road diner, which opened 15 years ago. At the time, he lived in Huntertown and thought the breakfast options in the area were limited.
Now the man behind a more innovative approach to breakfast will be expanding to a second restaurant.
The second location of Sunrise Cafe is set to open this month at 1019 Coliseum Blvd. E.
Dehmiri had operated a Mr. Panini restaurant in the spot, but it struggled, and he decided that a diner would be better for the spot.
He says customers had requested that he add a spot downtown, but he thought the Coliseum Boulevard area would be a good fit.
The new restaurant should seat 60 to 65 people. Hours are 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. The menu features skillets, omelets, biscuits and gravy, sandwiches, homemade soups and pie among other dishes.
Still looking for a way to spoil mom? Here are some more dining options for Mother's Day.
• The Lucky Moose, 622 E. Dupont Road, has a Mother's Day buffet from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be an omelet and crepe bar, as well as French toast, biscuits, gravy, sausage, bacon, ham, lasagna, pan-fried chicken, mahi mahi, salmon, tilapia, catfish, shrimp, ribs and pulled pork. Cost is $14.95 for adults; children's prices are available for 10 and younger. Reservations are highly recommended; call 490-5765.
• Rack & Helen's Bar & Grill in New Haven will have a buffet from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Included will be entrees such as Ossian ham, smoked jalapeno cheddar sausage, beef brisket, chicken cordon Bleu and black and blue salmons; sides such as roasted garlic mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese; vegetables; cold salads; and desserts. There are also kid-friendly options such as chicken strips and pepperoni pizza. The cost is $19.99 for adults, $8.99 for ages 3 to 10; 2 and younger are free. Call 749-5396 for reservations.
• Melinda's Flowers and Balloons and Waynedale Bakery are teaming up again for Mother's Day with flowers and gifts. Bakery specials are raspberry and mint tortes, $3 each; Strawberry-Lemonade Cupcakes with White Ganache, $18 dozen; turtle cakes (chocolate cake with caramel and garnished with pecans), $12 for a 6-inch and $27 for an 8-inch; and iced sugar cookies (tulips and butterflies), $10 a dozen. Call the bakery at 747-2992 or Melinda's Flowers 445-4273 to order.
• Salud Tapas N Tequila, 5735 Falls Drive, will be celebrating Cinco de Mayo from 4 to 11 p.m. Friday. Underneath the margarita tent, there will be live music, tacos, beer and, of course, margaritas. I'll take mine on the rocks with salt.
• Baba's Philly Steak, Fish & Chicken has opened in the former Happy's Pizza on East State Boulevard.
The Dish features restaurant news and food events and appears Wednesdays. Fax news items to 461-8893, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 461-8304.