Creative Gourmet Celebrates its 25th year…

Creative Gourmet was started by John Spagnuolo in 1986, after graduating the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.

I grew up in the restaurant business started by my parents when I was 2 years old. My parents worked there 7 days a week, and it was a 24 hour operation. My mother brought me with her to work every day because it was always very busy. I had an early passion to mingle with the customers and the employees; not to mention my fascination with the fact that I could have anything I ever wanted to eat, and I could cook anytime that I wanted. My Father loved to cook his favorite regional Italian dishes from his home town of Avelino, Italy which is in the Campania Region. He taught me these dishes throughout my life, such as Rapinni with Garlic and Oil, Breaded Eggplant with Fresh Grated Regiano Parmesan Cheese, Eggplant Caponata with Olives , Onions , Celery , Tomatoes and Capers, Amogie Sauce to accompany grilled fish and meats made with fresh Tomatoes, Basil Lemon Garlic and Pure Olive Oil .  I also learned to make Cured Fresh Green Olive Salad, Pizzas, Roasted Red Peppers, and Pasta with Peas, Pasta with Broccoli and Linguine with Clam Sauce. My mother made homemade pies that were second to none, and taught me her secrets to my favorites: Coconut Cream, Chocolate Cream, Lemon Meringue, Banana Cream, Key lime and Cheesecakes.

By the age of 12 I had such a desire to learn as much about food as I could, and had developed a palate to make foods taste unique. I wanted to keep making people happy eating my food. I told my counselor in Middle School that I wanted to be a Chef. He told me of a School in New York: “The Culinary Institute of America,” and said it was the best place to go in the World. For me, there was no turning back- I had to go. The hard part came when I had to convince my strict, “Old School,” Italian father that I was leaving him to go to New York to be a Chef. This was not an easy task if you can imagine, but my mother was delighted, and she helped me to persuade him, but it took 7 years.

When I turned 15 my father got me a job at his friends Catering hall, “The Gourmet House.” It was the most prestigious Catering Hall in Detroit, where I worked as an Apprentice to Chef Harry Russet.

Prior to attending The Culinary Institute, I moved to Winter Park, Florida where I worked as the only waiter in a small French Restaurant. Here I was taught Tableside service by a chef who only spoke French, and to make matters worse, had a terrible temper! My evenings were spent working as a cook in a popular Bar /Restaurant down the Street.


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