I’m madder than a omelette chef with a broken spatula and a bad wrist over the fact that I didn’t get a degree in cooking back when I graduated from Kingsborough Community College way too many years ago — and now I have to pay for great meals instead of just making them myself.
Look, you all know that ol’Carmine loves to eat more than anything else, so it stands to reason that I would know how to wok and roll, if you know what I’m saying. But the fact is, when it comes to cooking I’ve got two left feet — but apparently it didn’t have to be that way.
See, Kingsborough actually has a great culinary arts curriculum that knocks the socks off all those fancy schools where you have to pay an arm and a leg to learn how to cook.
Now, had I known that when I was busting my behind to graduate in time for my GI Bill deal to let the government pay my bills, my life might have been different. Not that I’m mad with how everything turned out. But I bet I could have saved some dough all these years if I was cooking myself instead of stopping by every pizzeria and Chinese restaurant on this side of the Great Wall.
But I digress. The real reason I’m writing this column (besides the fact that I get paid to do so) is because I went to my old school last week for one of its fancy “Donor Recognition” nights, and as one of Kingsborough’s more famous alum, I certainly was recognized.
I mean, I don’t want to brag, but my column is really blowing up ever since I got an editor that understands me. I can’t roll on my scooter Tornado three feet without somebody stopping me and saying “Wait a second, your real?”
To be truthful, though, they recognize my scooter more than they recognize me. Where would I be without Tornado? Well, I certainly wouldn’t have been at this extraordinary event, where the food was so good, I simply had to write about it.
I attended the event with my nephew Anthony, substituting for my lovely wife Sharon, who was under the weather. Having arrived early by Access-a-Ride, we toured the building and it was bittersweet to see my old biology professor James Goetz’s smiling face on a huge bronze plaque dedicating the Aquarium to him. On May 22, 2010, Professor James C. Goetz passed away from a long battle with bone cancer. He was a fantastic educator.
But let’s get to the feast: it was prepared by the students in Dr. Johnathon Deutsch’s Culinary Arts Program, it started with an elegant cocktail hour with hors d’ oeuvres and excellent wine. Me and Antknee chatted up some bold-faced names and headed for the food, which was set up in the Rotunda where there were five stations:
• Station 1: Grand Manger-antipasti, with dozens of delicacies.
• Station 2: Saucie station including sauteed shrimp and scallop provencal,
• Station 3: Roast duck breast amuse-bouche (that’s French, I think), roast pork belly, Asian pear ginger and elderflower relish, sliced red plum, ginger and rhubarb relish, Roasted beef filet with two sauces, Cook smoked tomato sauce, Arugala horseradish sauce.
• Station 4: La Fromarge Station: An assortment of Artisanal cheeses
• Station 5: Patisserie Station: Petite four.
Welcoming remarks by Dr. Regina Peruggi started the ceremonies with a couple of accomplished student speakers. And Dr. Jonathan Deutsch’s opening remarks spoke of the College’s splendid culinary offerings. When we spoke during the cocktail hour he mentioned that he read my column with the El Caribe menu and hoped that his menu would also be mentioned. Well there it is Jonathan, I tasted everything, loved everything, drank everything, and you know I’m waiting for your next invitation to taste your students totally delicious and fattening creations.
What surprised me was how many guests came over to me to tell me they liked my column (actually they said loved, but I’m too humble to brag). And imagine my shock when Dr. Peruggi acknowledged that a renowned chef from the Plaza was in attendance. Now retired Thomas Santamaria is very involved with a distinguished Chef’s association. I went over to him to tell him that my name is Carmine Santa Maria. He smiled with delight telling me that he and his son Lenny Santamaria, a high school Principal on Staten Island, are forever asked if they were related to me. Well, we might be maybe because he came from the same region of Sicily, as my parents — Agrigento. We chatted, laughed, and exchanged phone numbers. He to was extremely impressed with the Culinary Arts that were displayed.
To be continued!
Screech at you next week!