Accogli may be empowering his team but he's still a busy man and as far as he's           Ocean Perch Fillet with Jacob's
                                                               CHEF’S SURPRISE                                                                              concerned the busier life gets the better it is for him. “Every time we do a big
                                                                                                                                                            leap, it's crazy at the time but it's so rewarding.”

                                                                                                                                                            Five years ago, he had a big leap. His two disparate goals in life were to open a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Creek Sparkling alla Puttanesca
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      by Carmine Accogli
                                                                                                                                                            restaurant and sing rhythm and blues but since both careers are performed at
                                                               The Big Ragu’s Carmine Accogli                                                               night, Accogli had to choose one “so I chose cooking.” But as the cliché goes, “it
                                                                                                                                                            never rains but pours”, as Accogli took the keys to the restaurant, he was phoned
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      6oz Ocean Perch fish
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      6 pitted black olives
                                                               has many hidden talents                                                                      by a band to sing a track for them in England — a dance mix of Level 42’s classic,
                                                                                                                                                            Something About You. “I needed money to renovate the kitchen so I took the gig.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      6-8 capers depending on size
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2 medium Tomatoes diced
                                                               By Peggy Mackenzie                                                                           They phoned six times while I was renovating the kitchen. The Big Ragu opened
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3 anchovy filets
                                                                                                                                                            in November of 2003, and then in February 2004 came my beautiful daughter,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 clove garlic sliced
                                                                                                                                                            Amelie, followed by a JUNO win that spring for the song I sang in England.”
                                                               “I need the stage again. I love it. I can't wait for the next episode,” enthuses Carmine                                                                                               4oz Jacob's Creek Sparkling
                                                               Accogli, owner/chef of The Big Ragu. He's telling a reporter over her “simple vegetable                                                                                                3 Basil Leaves chopped
                                                                                                                                                            Five years later, amidst cooking six nights a week, his family has just moved to a
                                                               soup” which tastes anything but, that he still loves to cook for others but he also needs                                                                                              salt and pepper to taste
                                                                                                                                                            new house, and he's finished wrapping 13 episodes of Buddies.
                                                               the stage.                                                                                                                                                                             Olive oil
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Flour for dusting
                                                                                                                                                                                                     Recently launched on SunTV and mentv,
                                                               It might seem strange that the popular restaurateur has a need for an audience beyond
                                                               his satisfied clientele but how many chefs also have a JUNO? As Accogli says, “There's       This generation is                       Buddies on the Vine is a cooking show
                                                                                                                                                                                                     that pairs food with wine and spirits. The
                                                               nothing wrong with ambition. Ambition's good.”                                                                                                                                         3 slices of rustic Italian bread
                                                                                                                                                            really getting into                      five seasoned chefs (Accogli, Neil Siomra
                                                                                                                                                                                                     from Pallucci, Julia Hanna from Julia's &
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 garlic clove cut in half
                                                               And Accogli is certainly ambitious. He has juggled many different roles in his short life,                                                                                             olive oil for drizzle
                                                               sometimes all at once: singer, chef, husband, father, and now television personality with    wine and living in                       Ritorno, Massimo Capra from Mistura,
                                                                                                                                                                                                     Robert Craig from Il Fornello & Olivia
                                                               the release of a new cooking show, Buddies on the Vine.                                                                                                                                1.   Lightly dust the Ocean Perch in flour.
                                                                                                                                                            the moment.                              Bolano from All the Best Fine Foods)
                                                                                                                                                                                                     welcome new chefs in each episode.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2.   Sear the fish in a skillet with olive oil until golden brown,
                                                               How does Accogli keep all the balls in the air? He's been married “seven wonderful                                                                                                          and discard the remaining oil.
                                                                                                                                                                                                     Accogli describes the show as “more of a
                                                               years to a great woman.” Does Barb cook with him at the restaurant? “Never!” he                                                                                                        3.   Pour in the Jacob's Creek Sparkling to deglaze the skillet,
                                                                                                                                                                                                     variety show than a cooking show. We
                                                               exclaims. “We wouldn't still be married if we did. Barb runs her own business, CakeStar                                                                                                     then add the anchovies, capers, olives, sliced garlic and
                                                                                                                                                            made food but there were musical guests, cocktail moments, we even rapped.”
                                                               with her sister, specializing in cakes. Our time together is Mondays but we're getting                                                                                                      tomatoes and cook for about 15 minutes until the sauce
                                                                                                                                                            The cooking segments were recorded first and then the chefs were interviewed.
                                                               better at seeing each other during the rest of the week. I've been trying to leave work                                                                                                     begins to thicken.
                                                                                                                                                            During the interviews, recalls Accogli, “some chefs broke down and cried.”
                                                               earlier and empower the team and have a life outside of the restaurant.” The team                                                                                                      4.   Add the chopped basil.
Accogli holds his prized Juno in the doorway of The Big Ragu   consists of six people: Accogli, a sous chef and wait staff. The first year, Barb made all                                                                                             5.   To make bruschetta for dipping into the fish broth, toast
                                                                                                                                                            Accogli dispels the myth that only the pros had wisdom to impart to the younger
                                                               the desserts but now they're made in-house but with her input.                                                                                                                              or roast the bread slices and rub the bread with the
                                                                                                                                                            charges. “The guest chefs who came on the show were chefs in their own right
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           garlic clove and drizzle with olive oil and a little salt.
                                                                                                                                                            and they love to mix drinks. They have a greater knowledge of wine and spirits
                                                                                                                                                            than us. This generation really is getting into wine and living in the moment.”

                                                                                                                                                            The episodes for the show were based on six to eight recipes submitted by the
                                                                                                                                                            five chefs. As Accogli says, “it was easy to come up with the recipes; they're the
                                                                                                                                                            ones we use in the restaurants.”

                                                                                                                                                            Were there too many cooks in the kitchen? Accogli emphatically says “No!”
                                                                                                                                                            The five chefs had either met each other before or spoken to each other. Egos
                                                                                                                                                            weren't a problem. “They were a bunch of humble people who knew how to
                                                                                                                                                            give each other space. Everyone passed on the baton. It was a very cohesive
                                                                                                                                                            group, very accommodating and when one chef was preparing their recipe, the
                                                                                                                                                            others were there to make that chef look good.”

                                                                                                                                                            The first season is in post production and there's talk of a second. Accogli’s ready
                                                                                                                                                            for a season two. “I want to do more television. I really, really fell in love with the
                                                                                                                                                            camera. As time went on I got more comfortable. I hunger for the stage. With
                                                                                                                                                            television you can reach a lot more people than the forty I cook for in the
                                                                                                                                                            restaurant. I was bummed when filming the last segment. Coming back to the
                                                                                                                                                            restaurant was anti-climatic even though I love cooking for others. When you
                                                                                                                                                            have a talent you should showcase it to as many people and television's the way            At home behind the bar.
                                                                                                                                                            to go.” And then he muses, “Or maybe the Internet.” Add one more medium to
                                                                                                                                                            Accogli’s expanding portfolio.


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