When I was a child, my dad and grandfather owned a small pizzeria and restaurant. I was there all the time watching, working and learning. When I was in High School, I started trucking and moving furniture. Fast forward to the year 2000 when I met my wife. She was a head waitress in a very well known Italian restaurant in the Hamptons. She basically got me back into the restaurant industry by teaching me how to wait on tables, which I was very good at. Then I started learning the names of things and how to cook and season them. After a few years of that I became a line cook in quite a few different types of restaurants, from Italian to bars, to deli work, I pretty much did it all. The last restaurant I worked in on Long Island needed a pizza man, and my boss showed me the ropes; and I became a pizza maker also. It came very naturally to me because I kind of grew up watching and learning from my dad and grandmothers.
My favorite things to cook
One of my signature pizzas is the Grandma Pie. I was the only one allowed to make them when I worked in New York. A real lady killer is my grilled chicken Caesar salad pizza. All the girls love that one. I make a mean vegetable lasagna, and love cooking seafood; especially crabmeat stuffed shrimp. I like to experiment a lot too. Something I picked up from my dad. Most of the time my experimental meals come out really good; at least that's what everyone says.
My favorite family cooking traditions
My main tradition/style is Italian. But I also love cooking meats, seafood, stir frying and different types of Chinese foods. I make egg rolls, wantons, shrimp and lobster sauce, fried rice and Lo Mein. I also like to make different kinds of soups. My specialty though is pizza, and pizzeria associated foods.
My cooking triumphs
Definitely my grandma pizza and grilled chicken Caesar salad pizza. People actually offer me money to make those two pies. Another of my best dishes is Zuppa Di Pesce. Fra Diavalo of course. It's all the sea foods on top of pasta with spicy marina sauce.
My cooking tragedies
I don't think I've ever had one. I've maybe burned or overcooked something once in a while, but everyone always likes what I make. I did screw up in an Italian market that I worked in once. A customer asked for a foot long Italian hero/sub, and then complained that the red wine vinegar was bad. I tried to explain that vinegar doesn't go bad. It turns out that I accidentally picked up the wrong squirt bottle and doused the guys sandwich with dark orange Palmolive dish liquid. He ate half the sandwich before complaining about the taste. I was mortified. He was cool about it though, and we made a new sandwich for him and didn't charge him. Poor guy must have been on the toilet for 2 days after that.