I believe there are a few key things that every man must posses.
1. You must own a well tailored suit—Whether it’s a slick fitting getup from H&M or a bespoke 3-piece from Tom Ford, it’s essential. Essential to the fact that people no longer take you serious in that zoot suit or baggy rental you so elegantly pulled off on prom night, find yourself a decent tailer and use em.
2. You must know your liquor— because when guests arrive and all you can shake up is a fuzzy navel, they’re gonna laugh.
3. And finally, please just learn how to cook— for yourself or for your next hot date. So what if you need to constantly refer to a Giada cookbook or you’re using instant rice (please don’t use instant rice), but for the love of all things man, learn how to use that gas oven stove you had to have. Invest in some good cast iron, master one Italian dish, and if you need help . . . seek it.
See, I used to be a 2 out of 3 guy; I dressed well and drank great, but if you ever caught me behind a stove, I was exposed as a fraud. So I sought help and found it in an unlikely place, Carlino’s, my favorite local Italian market, possessed something far greater then their pre-made meals, they had Joe.
Going to Carlino’s became routine for me, after grueling long hours at work, I always looked forward to stopping in for a prepared snack or some prosciutto and unique cheese. Day after day: meat, cheese, walk home . . . it was boring, artery killing, oh so easy quintessential single male. And then my routine was shattered one faithful fall evening when I promised a date I was more then a pretty suit and a sophisticated drinker, I promised her a home cooked dinner. I remember panicking hours before her arrival, almost cursing at the fact I convinced her I could cook. Running out of time, I doused myself in cologne, and marched out the door to Carlino’s, if for anything, one hell of a good meat and cheese platter. I burst in the door and aimlessly paced the aisle while feverishly pulling up first date recommendations by Giada on my iPhone. I was moments from a nuclear break down when Joe stepped in. Joe was the face of Carlino’s to me at the time, as a new kid in town he was always quick to great you or pass along a sample of the best cured meat— he made Carlino’s feel like my Cheers. After spending 20 years as an elementary school teacher, he called it quits and simplified his life behind the deli counter.
As I began to profusely perspire, and my pretty little suit began to suffocate me, Joe picked up on my conundrum and quickly went to action. Without a blink he quickly shouted out some items in stock, outlined a creative way to blend them together, and broke everything down so simply that it was sickening. I soon felt the ability to cook was always a light bulb in my skull, and he was the man that came along and pulled the string. Suddenly, combinations and integrations of ingredients began to make sense.
No longer is chicken stock and polenta a scary thing, whenever I find my head scratching, Joe is there with a solution. In fact, if my dates knew any better, it’d be Joe they were seeing and not me . . . thanks buddy!
Carlino’s is one of those little places West Chester is lucky to have; Joe is one of those people anyone is lucky to meet. As a first time patron or a regular customer, he’s always there to help, to make you feel special. His small talk makes you feel important, and his confidence points you in the right directions weather it be olive oil, salami, or dating. Genuine customer experience is backed by a genuine man, a man who shares his ideas with you, then heads home to prepare the same for his family.
I’m gonna back track a little bit; Joe doesn’t need some fancy tailored suit, and frankly I could careless if he kicks back with Milwaukee’s Best every night— his ability to help others create an unequaled experience through the lens of a great meal idea makes him one hell of a man, and that suits him just fine.
This article was first published for Fig West Chester. You can find and follow my work with them on their Facebook or website, and if you happen to be in the WC area, for free at multiple locations around town!!