Memorial Day 2019

Who’s Doin’ the Cookin’?

By Joanna Heston

With the likes of fresh seafood, authentic Italian cuisine, coastal-inspired creations and more, Sea Isle City is home to some of the best in dining. With a smorgasbord of restaurant options to choose from while on vacation, you might also be wondering just who is cooking up all your favorite dishes. We met with local chefs to learn more about their experience, hobbies and more. While you might come to town to enjoy the sun and the sand, you won’t want to miss what these chefs are whippin’ up this summer.

 

Beachwood at The Dunes

8600 Landis Ave., Sea Isle City • 609-263-3627 • beachwoodsic.com

 

Chef Lucas Manteca

 

1. Where did you receive your training? I went to hospitality school in Argentina when I graduated from high school and then in 2001, I went to the French Culinary Institute in New York. I also have worked in many restaurants in all over the States like New York and Miami.

 

2. Who or what inspired you to become a chef? Kind of a cultural thing for me. Where I am coming from, food is important in life. Food, family, friends and barbecues, it was a huge binding for me growing up, so I think it was that. And in general, I’ve always been interested in hospitality. It gives you the freedom to travel and explore, so for me, it’s really more a lifestyle rather than a career.

 

3. What did you want to be when you were growing up? I think I just wanted to have this life. I wanted to have fun and enjoy what I was doing, and that is exactly where I am.

 

4. What are your top three tips on running a successful kitchen? Lead by example, communication, and training.

 

5. When you aren’t cooking, what hobbies do you enjoy? I love going to the beach with my family and friends. I love surfing, it’s my Zen. I also exercise, I got into Muay Thai Boxing about two years ago and it’s been great. I like to build things and be handy at my house or my businesses. I stay busy.

 

La Fontana Coast

5000 Landis Ave., Sea Isle City • 609-486-6088 • lafontanacoast.com

 

Chef Bujar Daku with the Polpo alla griglia.

 

1. Where did you receive your training? In Philadelphia and Italy

 

2. How many years have you been a chef in Sea Isle City? Twenty-three years in Sea Isle City and Strathmere, but also 6 years in Avalon and 14 years in Philadelphia.

 

3. What are your top three tips on running a successful kitchen? Always use fresh ingredients, buy good, quality products, and work with passion, not faith.

 

4. What is your favorite menu item to make for your customers? I really enjoy making everything on the menu, but probably the dishes that have been on the menu since Day 1, the veal and the gnocchi dishes.

 

5. What is your favorite ingredient to work with, and why? I have two: onion and garlic. You can’t have one without the other and I use these two in about 90% of dishes.

 

Mike’s Seafood & Dock Restaurant

4222 Park Rd., Sea Isle City • 609-263-3458 • mikesseafood.com

 

Chef Joe LaRosa of Mike’s Seafood and Dock Restaurant with the Platter of Fried Shrimp Stuffed with Crab Imperial.

 

1. How many years have you been a chef in Sea Isle City? Twenty-six years.

 

2. Who or what inspired you to become a chef? My mother. She was an incredible cook that specialized in seafood pasta dishes.

 

3. What is your favorite menu item to make for your customers? Sautéed soft shell crabs.

 

4. When you aren’t cooking, what hobbies do you enjoy? Watching Philadelphia professional sports.

 

5. How do you keep up with current food trends and is there a specific trend you are interested in now? TV and going to the food shows in the spring. A trend I am interested in right now is the hot and spicy foods.

 

 

 

O’Donnell’s Pour House

House 39th Street & Landis Ave., Sea Isle City • 609-263-5600 • odonnellspourhouse.com

 

Chef Bill Urbaczewski of O’Donnell’s Pour House with the Grilled Salmon in Ginger Soy.

 

1. How many years have you been a chef in Sea Isle City? Eighteen years.

 

2. Who or what inspired you to become a chef? I wanted to be a chef ever since I went on a Disney Cruise when I was in sixth grade.

 

3. What did you want to be when you were growing up? A jet plane fighter pilot.

 

4. What are your top three tips on running a successful kitchen? T.E.A.M (Together everyone achieves more), patience, and fresh is best.

 

5. What is your favorite ingredient to work with, and why? I love working with fresh seafood because we live at the beach.

 

 

 

 

Oar House Pub

318 42nd Place & Bay, Sea Isle City • 609-263-3000 • oarhouseseaisle.com

 

Chef Jim Furmanski of Oar House Pub with the Ahi Tuna Poke Bowl and Monkfish Medallions over Shrimp Risotto.

 

1. Where did you receive your training? On-the-job experience – I’ve been a chef for over 34 years.

 

2. What did you want to be when you were growing up? A medical illustrator.

 

3. What are your top three tips on running a successful kitchen? Camaraderie among kitchen staff, having fresh ingredients and close attention to detail.

 

4. What is your favorite menu item to make for your customers? I really love making the Ahi Tuna Poke Bowl, but I also think our Braised Brussel Sprouts are incredible.

 

5. When you aren’t cooking, what hobbies do you enjoy? Surfing and fishing. I just actually got back from a surfing trip to Costa Rica.

 

 

DeNunzio’s Brick Oven Pizza and Grille

3500 Boardwalk, Sea Isle City • 609-263-2600 • seaislepizza.com

 

Chef /Owner Michael DeNunzio of DeNunzio’s Brick Oven Pizza and Grille with The Don Pizza.

 

1. Where did you receive your training? I didn’t really have any formal training, but I got my start from working at various pizzerias in the neighborhood. Each year, I attend the international pizza expo where I learn and study from chefs and mentors from around the country. It’s a lot of trial and error and a lot of hours throughout the years.

 

2. How many years have you been a chef in Sea Isle City? About 20 years.

 

3. Who or what inspired you to become a chef? Definitely my mother. Growing up, I was fortunate there was always dinner on the table every night and she made it fun, we always played iron chef in our own kitchen. She’s been a chef for 40-plus years.

 

4. What did you want to be when you were growing up? So many different things for sure, but I knew I always wanted to travel and being a chef was always inspiring to me. I am lucky I get to do both.

 

5. What are your top three tips on running a successful kitchen? Hire people who are passionate, create a positive and profitable work environment, keep work fun.

 

Mildred’s Strathmere Family Restaurant

901 Commonwealth Dr., Strathmere • 609-263-8209 • mildredsstrathmererestaurant.com

 

Chef Christy Raffa and Gina Raffa of Mildred’s Strathmere Restaurant with the Chicken a la Parmigiana.

 

1. Where did you receive your training? I grew up in the business and learned alongside my dad.

 

2. How many years have you been a chef here? A little more than 10 years.

 

3. Who or what inspired you to become a chef? My parents inspired me growing up through their work at the restaurant, and being able to see them be successful in life inspired me to follow in their footsteps.

 

4. What are your top three tips on running a successful kitchen? Being consistent, being able to be accessible to the business 24 hours a day and being dedicated to the kitchen and the business as well.

 

5. What is your favorite menu item to make for your customers? I really like to make the broiled stuffed shrimp, which is one of our most popular items, and the Veal Andrew, which is named after my dad, and crab imperial.

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