I was born and raised in Brooklyn New York, exposed to the many ethnic foods cultures and restaurants. I was in need of work as my mother had fallen ill and was admitted to the hospital for several months. 3 operations at Coney Island hospital removing part of her stomach and a lot of her intestine.
Finding My Way In Brooklyn
My first real good paying job was at a pizzeria on the corner of Church Avenue and Coney Island Avenue called the Pizza Palace. It was there I began learning the pizza trade. Prior to that I had delivered the New York Times in the surrounding apartment buildings to save money for comics. I was fortunate enough to work with a wave of immigrant’s who were seeking opportunities for their families, and taught me various styles of cooking. It was here where I began to appreciate food. Keep in mind that this is 1984. Food at this time is still “All” organic.
I was attending E.R, Murrow high school at the time and getting out early enough to open the pizzeria. The owner was a paramedic for the city of New York Lt. Mitchell Stern who was an absentee owner. Trusting me with the keys to open and close. Though he was Jewish his step father was Italian.
While working at the Pizza Palace a gentleman named Bert had bought the block. The entire block. Mitch ended up with a lease he could not enforce. I had lost my job. Having experience now I went to Johns pizzeria at Church Avenue and Mc Donald Avenue and shortly after Scarolla’s restaurant. Where i worked with a culinary (Hyde Park) graduate. Learning to step up my game.
I then found myself at Midwood deli and bagel making $20.00 an hour learning how to make hand rolled bagels. A 24 hour spot that had lox boar’s head cold cuts and a beautiful deli filled with a variety of cold salads.
Ironically enough Mitch walks in one day and says “I volunteered your services at a pizzeria on New Utrecht and 50th. Boro Park. A kosher pizzeria. I had no choice in the matter and still saw him as a father figure. So i went. There i learned some Hebrew given everyone thought i was Israeli. It was either that or quit. There i learned the culture of the Jews. Cold eggplant salads hummus, and the famous falafel. Which by the way are amazing!
There i met a Hasidic Jew who got me out of Brooklyn, Moisha Mund. I teamed up with him to work at seasonal spots all over the beaches (Point Pleasant, Wildwood, in Jersey and the malls in the winter. Working only 6 months of the year.
Selling computer portrait’s. T shirts felts buttons, sweatshirts etc. He had an idea and wanted to hire a non Jew to run the shops. It was incredibly successful. I was meeting so many people and having an amazing time working in shorts barefoot and on a beach.
In The Dutchess Mall right across from Santa.
At this point i had saved my pennies to come up with a down payment to purchase the actual portrait systems from Mark and began my own little enterprise. He was very fair with his asking price. I was 24 years old at the time and continued to save my money. Finally, i made the move to buy my own pizzeria.
My First Real Business
While working for others full time i ran my seasonal business part time (My days off) with my girlfriend at the time and a partner. Mike Gordon the owner of a cab company. An entrepreneur of sorts though nearing retirement. He purchased the systems from me to retire to Florida and i found a pizzeria in Vails Gate New York. To begin the next chapter of my life. Brother Bruno’s where i was able to finance a note to ultimately own it outright.
Major Changes being noticed with the food industry
It was at this point in my life where i began to see a lot of changes happening to the food industry. The tomatoes for the hero’s where no longer a bright red and vibrant in color. They were flavorless and felt like a hard plastic. The imported tomatoes to this day are still as good as they were years ago.. Thankfully. The ones coming in from California were not. The produce tasted like chemicals. Even the onions were different in texture and flavor.
As the years went on i realized even the so called “Organic:” foods were not even up to par. In 20011 living 80 miles north of the city i was inspired enough to construct my own little greenhouse. I literally built it all myself and completely submerged myself in all forms of growing. By 1998 i began having a family of my own with a total of 5 kids. 3 boys and 2 girls.
As a parent it was my responsibility to make sure the kids were breast feed and where eating as healthy as possible. I know this subject is a little taboo for most but yes, i am antivax. So, I did all I could to ensure they were healthy.
My sons helping with the construction of the greenhouse and learning about growing.
Here i began my gardening journey that has lasted well over a decade. I tend to be obsessive when learning something. I began picking up used books at yard sales and reading everything I could, to learn as much I could about gardening. Blogs and YouTube were also an excellent rescores. With my kids as the catalyst I knew I would not fail. I continued to shop at Nature’s Pantry for most of their food getting imputed nectars fruits, snacks and most of their meals.
As I dove deeper into gardening i began experimenting with hydroponics. Out of mushroom buckets from the pizzeria 5 gallon i constructed 24 Dutch buckets. Food grade plastic that would have otherwise been going into the dumpster, I wonderful resource for this type of growing is the MHP Gardener that i ran across on YouTube.
Dutch Bucket Tomatoes and behind that are floating rafts for the various types of lettuces!
Gardening for beginners,what can i hope to learn from Gardening Fever?
I have created this content to share and help anyone with any level of gardening experience to progress to the next level. Hopefully inspire you to want to venture out, and try other forms. From small space, to greenhouse and even hydroponics.
Raising 5 children and trying to give them the very best nutrient dense meals over time seemed to become a more and more daunting task! Shopping at organic markets as often as i could and paying dearly for produce was taking a financial toll. I just couldn’t see paying $5.00 for an organic cucumber
So i did what any good parent would make the time to do. I began my gardening journey in 2011. I started small with a small yard a greenhouse and familiarized myself with soil, As the years went on i upgraded to much bigger greenhouse’s. Growing on a much bigger scale.
The benefits of gardening for my family
Soil is and can be somewhat complex to really wrap your head around. The whole symbiotic relationship is key. Seasonality, is another factor of what and when to grow. However, when you are determined everything seems to fall into place over time. Thanks to the internet I did manage to gain all the fundamentals needed to begin growing successfully. As well as a few rounds to Barnes And Noble.
Now, with 5 kids and a pizzeria my time was limited. I always included the kids with our gardening practices and kept them in the loop with the gardening know-how! One of the best experiences as a parent and validated my efforts was actually serving and canning what we grew. Passing this knowledge to my children was priceless. Given the fact that their generation is so plugged into gaming and phones this helped to keep them grounded.