Archive for the ‘ Dante’s InFerno ’ Category

Understanding Chef Charlie Trotter

Chef TrotterThe Chefs Table

Charlie Trotter has inspired chefs, students, home cooks, foodies, etc around the world.  I remember when his first series of cookbooks were released.  I was a line cook at Aureole working for “the other Charlie”   The Charlie Trotter cookbook was filled with inspiration.  He demonstrated a whole new approach to cooking, presentation, ingredients and food combinations.  Instantly we were all trying and copying these new culinary ideas.

My first chef position was at Silks at the Mandarin.  At this restaurant I got to work with one of the most inspiring sommeliers I have ever known.  Renee Nicole Kubin.  She came to work at Silks from Trotters in Chicago.  She was part of Trotters opening team working under Larry Stone.  Because of Renee Nicole I finally started to understand fine cuisine.  As the chef of a restaurant there is a natural sense of arrogance and importance that comes with the job.  Renee Nicole was the only person in the restaurant that would talk back to me. (but in proper manner)  I would always listen because I was learning.  She would always share Trotter experience insights to every culinary situation that arose.  I would sometimes get angry, but I would always listen.  I remember once she corrected me on which garniture should be served with caviar traditionally.  She was right, chives was not one of them.  So I threw the dish against the wall above her head.  Was that Kitchen aggravation or craziness?  or passion just like Chef Trotter?

Chef Trotter was an extremely passionate chef.  Every conversation I had with him was always about Food, culinary adventures or Jazz, his other passion.  Many times his passion, excitement to share was miss interpreted as arrogance.  I interpreted it as inspiration.

The first time I actually met Chef Trotter I was in Chicago for a charity event for 2 days.  The first night we were there we ate Trotters.  The chefs tasting menu that lasted until 2:00 am.

I was treated like royalty.  He graciously invited us back to eat the following night for a special dinner in honor of the late Chef Patrick Clark.  the next night we went to eat 7 courses at a friends restaurant, then went to Trotters for 12 more courses.  Another evening that ended at 2:oo am in Trotters watching the cooks clean the entire kitchen.

My next chef position was for Nobu in Milan Italy, another culinary adventure for myself.  One afternoon my wife called up to the kitchen, and said that Charlie Trotter is here to see you.  This was a day I would never forget.   This was a true episode of iron chef.  I was not prepared to make lunch for one of the greatest chefs in the world that day.  He was one of the most important guests we have ever served there in my opinion.  At the end of their meal I enjoyed a glass of wine with Chef and Rochelle his girlfriend at the time.

The next time I called upon Chef Trotter, I was working on my cookbook ( which is still not completed).  I had the honor of having Chef Charlie Trotter write the forward to my future cookbook.  Now under the circumstances I am compelled even more to get it finished.  There has been financial, and health struggles along the way, but now I am back on track.  Any time I would see Chef Trotter, he would always ask how is the book coming along?  So Chef now its in writing the book is coming along!

My final encounter and most memorable with Chef Trotter was at the final evening of his great restaurant Trotters.  when we heard the news of his closing we hurriedly called and made reservations.   Some how we were the last chef table in the kitchen, on the last evening, the last service.  Amazing.  I brought my friend, and chef Torsten Schulz, and our wifes.

When we walked into the kitchen everyone starred wondering who would be sitting at the last chefs table.  Well it was us, 2 couples from Cleveland Ohio whom flown in to pay homage to this great American Chef.  We ate 17 courses and once again we were one of the last tables to leave the restaurant.  We did many pictures with the staff and Chef Trotter.  Outside we walked and talked a minute.  Chef Trotter showed me the street sign that the city posted in honor of his great restaurant of 25 years.

Chef Trotter is a unique one of kind culinary inspiration.  Just to sit in his kitchen, and watch extreme team work, was unforgettable.  I watched the valet wash dishes, the hostess serve food, the cooks explain the dishes table-side, perfect service, perfection in all the details.  Chef Trotter set a bar that I strive continually to achieve.

I think some of the biggest misunderstandings was watching him on tv in the later days involving the closing of his restaurant.  I saw an artists frustration with spectators that just couldn’t comprehend or respect his years of works of art.  He was a giving man always teaching, guiding, directing the next culinary generation.

Thanks for the example and the on the street

New DANTE T-Shirts now Available!!

shut t shirtcharcut t shirtBring in the new year with style.

The New T-Shirts are brought to you by a collaboration of design and

production with stove monkeys.

All shirts can be purchased at DANTE Restaurant or

Buy it,  Wear it,  Live it.

The Best Of Both Worlds

van halen

Just like Van Halen check out Scene Magazine and Cleveland Magazine


Cleveland Magazine

Guitar Picks?

guitar picks2

So why the guitar picks?

1. I try to play the guitar.  Mostly blues, or Zeppelin.                                          (not really a whole lot of time at the moment though).

2. A little memento, to take home and remember us by when you reach in your coat pocket or change jar.

3. They are cool to catch at a rock concert, especially Eddie Van Halen’s

So what am I supposed to do with these things?

1. Take up guitar lessons.

2. They can be used as a ball marker, when putting on those tight, fast greens.

3. You can flick them at that drunk guy at the end of the bar.


3. If you collect 10 DANTE picks and present them the next time you visit,

You Will Receive a $50 gift Certificate.

Thanks for your support!


The Making of a Professional Kitchen


The food, pots, pans, purveyors, hungry ambitious cooks, long hours, organization, timing, details, yelling, waiters, food runners, confit, braised, fresh hearts of palm, infused oils, swept floor, polished plates, no fingerprints, house cured pancetta, smoked salmon, Bolognese,  mini tongs, dedication, customer service, 9 pans, tame, chef 2 chef, sharp knife, On the fly, 86, NOW, and many, many, many, many other words.

Especially Ace Fixtures!  Tom Marnecheck brings all these words together.

Behind every great restaurant and chef is a Kitchen designer/ supplier.

Tom has put together many of Clevelands finest restaurants, Roast, Lola,

Giovanni’s, Moxie, Red, and many others, to name a few.

Thanks Tom for your help, support and know how.


Ace Fixtures

1975 East 61st Street

Cleveland, 44103



I Heard You Missed Us, We’re Back!!


In case you didn’t hear.

The title of this post is a lyric of a hit  song from the 80′s

Name the song, Artist, and album to receive a free $10 Dante  gift card.

Send your response and mailing address to

The picture is a hint.


The Power of the Blog

chef_jacketNow its my turn to “guitar” pick on people.

This has been a great opening week.  The opening party was out of control over 600 people showed up some got in, some didn’t.  The week was very busy and extremely busy on the weekend.

Two blog reviews came out this week.

One was from a Cleveland foodie who dines out frequently and is also a good writer.  She came in on the busiest night of  opening week at the busiest time as well, 7:30.  She did wait for her food,  as did other tables.  Is that normal? Not at all.  But neither is doing a review on the fifth day after a  restaurant has opened.

It was not mentioned that the table was waiting for all their guests to arrive before ordering.    A guest at the table ordered  the 5 course tasting menu when the rest of the table ordered appetizers and other items.  Most restaurants make it mandatory that the entire table orders the tasting menu or nothing.  I don’t do this because its my feelings that the guests should be happy.  In this case the menu did take longer than usual because of the situation and all the circumstances.  Did the waiter not communicate as he should have?  Certainly he admits, as every other new employee would  of 5 days.

After spending most of my culinary experience in the food Mecca of the United States, New York City; any reviewer dines at least 3 times to give fair judgement and fair opinion.   I also understood there isn’t enough time to give a restaurant 3 visits.   But reality is we are in Cleveland Ohio, How many restaurant openings were there this month?  There were certainly more closings than openings.

Then there was the another blog posting this week.  This writer wrote of her experience, on how the food took forever all though great, and the service was not perfect.  Okay.

Once again was it mentioned?

  • this was a private night not open to the public.
  • the dinner was free (except for alcohol)
  • your were hand picked and personally invited by me to test out the restaurant before we open and give the staff some practice.
  • this was the first night the stoves were turned on
  • the first night servers approached any tables
  • the first night any cook has prepared, plated or even seen any of their dishes.

So after this evening the writer, writes a story that goes out to at least 3000 Clevelanders.

Once again, do you write a review about a private party you were invited to?

Is this proper?  You make the call,  and please twitter it, or blog it so the whole world can see it.

If  I knew I was inviting a reviewer that night, and not a friend,  The guest list probably would have gotten shorter.  The night was designed to train the staff not for a press release.

So as these other writers stated, it is my duty to be honest and present the experience.

Hence the power of the Blog.

also please be advised, use the force wisely young jedi master.

This is kinda fun :)


A Kitchen is Born

Welcome to my new kitchen!!.  It is almost finished.  Very Very close.  Almost time to start cooking.  Also new to the DANTE world is this blog.  Its kind of funny just before I started using this I watched the movie Julie and Julia.

I can’t promise that I will be as obsessive as Julie and write something every day, but I will certainly try.

The biggest question is “When is the restaurant going to open? ”    We are currently going through inspections and final permits.  It should be shorlty after that.

I will be posting  the new menu tomorrow after I implement some final changes.

Stay tuned for more updates.



welcome to the NEW DANTE

Welcome to Restaurant DANTE in Tremont, Ohio.