Thursday, 27 February 2020 13:49 Written by John Reardon

Hello my Foodie Friends!

Over the years, Paula and I have been blessed with many wonderful people who have been an important part of our life. It is never easy to say goodbye to an incredible person who has passed away.  This month, our Saratoga Springs, Culinary, and Compliments to the Chef family lost an amazing chef and friend; Chef and Professor Rocco Verrigni to a long, courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. Our tribute is to a man, that from the moment we met him, had an amazing impact on my life, my wife Paula and on our entire culinary community. 

My friendship began with Rocco many years ago when he and I would be part of a refreshment center at a sports event. Rocco would make his family recipe for Macaroni Pie (the recipe is included). We would share stories of work in the restaurant/ hospitality industry. Our understanding of Rocco’s contributions to the culinary world continued as Paula entered into higher education academics working as a professor for SUNY Delhi on the SUNY Schenectady campus. Rocco’s influence and impact on the culinary and hospitality programs at SUNY Schenectady remain prevalent within each student, instructor, and administrator on that campus. Upon retirement, Rocco became a strong advocate and presence within our Compliments to the Chef family. Rocco or “Chef Rocco” as we called him, conducted many product and “how to” demonstrations for us. He always brought a level of genuine interest in our business, how we could service our community as a culinary resource, and how he could help and be part of what we are. We valued his insight, interest in certain products, and experience that he brought with him through our conversations and discussions as to what to carry in the store. Along with his foodie stories, came loving stories of his family gatherings and his close friendship to Singer/Musician Jeff Brisbin, a person who is now a good friend of our store. During Chef Rocco’s demo’s he would insist on proper knife skills such as knowing how to julienne a carrot with a paring knife before learning to use a mandoline slicer. When we challenged him on the consistency of size, he quickly produced a perfect julienne carrot from a paring knife. 

As Rocco worked through his illness, he focused on getting back to the true basics of how food is created, using very authentic approaches to recipes making everything from scratch, and realizing the nutritional value of everything that he made. Many of the skill sets he would demo in our store were based on the basics; knife skills, pasta making, stock-making and soups, and the focus on the products he used within our store demonstrations. 

Rocco leaves behind a spirit that embraced the life of an incredible person. He approached his illness with grace, integrity, strength, optimism, and courage. Values that truly reflected the good man he was. There is a “hole in the world” and a hole in our lives. Our hearts go out to his wife Karen and the Verrigni family. We are so thankful to have had Rocco as part our lives. His friendship, support, expertise, and genuineness as a good person will be with us forever. Remember my Food Friends; “Life Happens in the Kitchen.” For Rocco; the kitchen was his contribution to us; leaving a legacy in the culinary world and academics. I have included his recipe that was posted in the Daily Gazette in an interview with Rocco on December 16, 2015.  I had his Grandma’s Macaroni Pie; it is fabulous.

 Take Care,
John & PaulaREARDON MacaroniPie


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