Six chefs – six stories

Six chefs – six stories

Excerpts from Watertown Daily Times, Sunday, June 17, 2012
By Chris Brock
Times Staff Writer

Brenda T. Cavallario – Cavallario’s Cucina

“I believe all of us have a calling,” Mrs. Cavallario said on a sunny morning at one of the tables that line the restaurant’s row of windows overlooking North Massey Street. “Since I was a very young girl, I always enjoyed cooking and preparing food.”

She laughed when asked if she was brought up in an Italian household, as the “cucina” (Italian for kitchen) name would indicate.

“I don’t have a drop of Italian in me,” she said. “My mother always said I was a wannabe. It’s the passion for the food.”

Mrs. Cavallario and her husband, Peter G., have worked in the restaurant business for more than 30 years. They both started out working at Cavallario’s Pizzeria in Alexandria Bay, owned by Peter’s parents, Vincent and Adrianna.

Brenda was 15 when she began dating Peter. Three years later, she began working at the restaurant.

“I was just dating him, and his family had a summer restaurant, so I just went to work for his parents,” Brenda said.

She became a self-taught chef and has won awards along the way. In 2007, her veal roulade al verde won awards at the Beef Council’s Veal Platinum Plate contest, an “iron chef”-type event held at the New York Wine & Culinary Center in Ontario County.

Mrs. Cavallario gets her creative instincts from her mother, K. Suzanne Chellis.

“I had the advantage of growing up in a household that entertained,” Mrs. Cavallario said. “This was back in the ‘70s when cuisine was first labeled ‘gourmet.’ My mom let me in the kitchen to do whatever I wanted to do – from salad to dessert.”

In 2002, the Cucina relocated from Eastern Boulevard to its current location to enhance its lunch business. Change is part of the restaurant business, the couple noted, and Mr. Cavallario said he and his wife share a key trait.

“Being brought up as hard workers, we persevere through the challenges,” he said.

This article first appeared in the Watertown Daily Times on Sunday, June 17, 2012.
Copyright 2012, Watertown Daily Times. Used with permission.