All for the Love of Food
Jun 01, 2014 08:55PM
● By Linda Sechrist
Movies and television are known for glamorizing everything; the latest industry besieged by the Hollywood effect is food and cooking. From a 24-hour cooking channel to reality shows such as The Chew, Hell’s Kitchen, and America’s Test Kitchen, there are myriad opportunities to peer inside a restaurant kitchen and follow on the heels of a gourmet. While being an executive chef often seems like an appealing and exciting career, the truth is that the job is very demanding and can be stressful and physically grueling.
In this behind-the-scenes look at what prompted local chefs to choose their profession and take on the significant financial investment of opening a restaurant, we meet Domenico Bosco, co-owner of Kitchen 41; Johann Everstijn, co-owner of Cider Press Café; Jude Lawless, private chef; and Kartik Patel, co-owner of Happiness Healthy Café. Each provides down-to-earth answers that offer a realistic understanding of the inspiration and motivation that lead individuals to don the traditional white chef’s hat and double-breasted coat, which are among the most recognizable items of clothing in the world.
Domenico Bosco, Kitchen 41, Naples
Domenico Bosco’s love affair with food began in his mother’s kitchen. “My mom was a great chef, and I learned a lot from her. She created her recipes using only fresh ingredients and never made the same meal twice in a month. Mom’s version of organic was the fresh eggs that she gathered from our hen’s nests at 5:30 a.m., as well as the produce we grew on our land,” explains Bosco.
At age 16, encouraged by his father, Bosco enrolled the oldest culinary institute in Italy, Istituto Alberghiero Villa Santa Maria, Abruzzo. The three-year school has for centuries turned out well-rounded culinary professionals.
Kitchen 41 is the first restaurant that Bosco and his wife have owned. “Barbara and I previously worked and helped other people to build their business—we felt it was time to build our own. Our entrepreneurial spirit, high energy level and love for people and food, along with our heartfelt desire to introduce people to the healthiest food possible, keeps us uplifted while we work very long hours every day,” explains Bosco.
Johan Everstijn, Cider Press Café, Naples
Johann Everstijn felt the lure of a chef’s life as soon as he was old enough to understand that he loved cooking as much as he did food. “I’m interested in everything about food and feel that the greatest compliment I can receive is when people love what I create. It doesn’t get any better than feeling gratified while doing something I love,” says Everstyn, who studied raw foods for several years at Chicago Raw Gourmet International. He later worked as a private chef, taught classes for other chefs and oversaw the preparation of 500 to 1,000 meals nightly while working with a catering-style food business that prepared meals for wedding receptions and other large functions.
Everstijn’s background in the food business earned him a call from American Celebrity Chef Matthew Kenny, who offered him a teaching position at Matthew Kenny Culinary Academy, the world’s first state-licensed raw food educational center, located in Oklahoma City. “He eventually moved me to the position of executive chef at his restaurant 105 Degrees, also in Oklahoma City,” notes Everstijn.
Jude Lawless, Private Chef
Jude Lawless, who is certified through the American Fitness Professionals and the Association in Nutrition & Wellness and Sports Nutrition, has been a chef for more than 20 years. A believer in the concept that healthy food is the equivalent of medicine, he presently freelances as a personal chef in order to teach individuals something he wholeheartedly believes in—eating healthy.
Lawless’s interest in fitness and preparing healthy foods began in adolescence. “Being a chef was a calling I felt around the age of 12, when I discovered that I liked preparing food. Even today, I still prefer to make meals at home, rather than eat out,” he says.
Although Lawless wants his own restaurant, he’s content with his consulting business, which combines his love of food and fitness. “I like showing my clients what foods to eat, which to avoid and how to plan menus, as well as prepare meals in their homes. It’s personally very rewarding,” remarks Lawless, who attended culinary school and worked in more than 15 restaurants, an experience that he says rounded out his education.
“I wanted to learn from other chefs,” Lawless comments. “This is one of the few careers remaining where you can teach yourself and learn on the job. Many successful chefs started their careers by washing dishes in a restaurant when they were teenagers,” he advises.
Kartik Patel, Happiness Health Café, Bonita Springs
Kartik Patel is a self-taught chef. The Happiness Healthy Café, which he and his wife, Shavani, opened nearly two years ago, is known for Patel’s unique California twist on the foods and flavors of his East Indian homeland. The Café is Patel’s first foray into restaurant ownership. “Cooking, which has always been my hobby, lets me do what I consider fun—experimenting with fusion dishes that combine different regional and ethnic flavors. Until I got the taste and texture that I wanted, I let my family and friends do the taste testing for everything on our menu,” he says.
Before Patel opened the café, he worked in the restaurant business for his brother-in-law. “Shavani and I are vegetarians,” he notes. “The lack of vegetarian restaurants in the area and the dream of owning my own restaurant motivated us to open the Café. I get great pleasure from watching our customers eat delicious vegetarian food and enjoy it,” he says.
From preparation to gratification, the most obvious reason for choosing a career as a chef is the love of food.
Kitchen 41, 2500 Tamiami Trail N., Ste. 111, Naples. Call 239-263-8009 or visit Kitchen41.com.
Cider Press Café, 1201 Piper Blvd., Ste. 26, Naples. Call 239-631-2500 or visit CiderCafePress.com.
Chef Jude Lawless, Call 305-890-7144. [email protected].