Executive Chef Gerald Anchelo of Harlingen (Texas) CC strives for great food in an creative and ever-evolving environment.
From humble beginnings in Queens, N.Y., Chef Gerald Anchelo of Harlingen (Texas) Country Club grew up preparing Italian food every Sunday with his grandmother, Ida Nocchi, reports Kayleigh Sommer of the Valley Morning Star in Harlingen.
To Anchelo, who is of Irish-Italian decent, making food with his grandmother was the beginning of a lasting tradition, as well as a lifelong bond. And it has inspired him as a professional culinarian to be proud of his heritage and share with others the lessons she taught him.
“Teaching is about cultivating spirits that want to learn,” he says.
About 80 percent of Anchelo’s time at Harlingen CC is spent leading and teaching his team, sous chefs Fernando and Tony, he told Sommer.
“If I’m not teaching, I’m learning,” he says. “I delegate and they lead.”
As a club chef, Anchelo says, he always has to be on the cutting edge—proactive and creative.
It was through cooking that Anchelo learned the secret to his grandmother’s success—not only in the kitchen, but also throughout life. Ida Nocchi was an Italian immigrant who moved to Manhattan’s Lower East Side, a neighborhood with a large Irish and Italian population. At an early age, she became exposed to the area’s unique food, which developed more out of necessity than taste.
Over time, Anchelo shared with the Valley Morning Star, the food that his grandmother grew up with became a family tradition and when relatives came over, meatballs and shepherd’s pie was always on the menu.
Aside from the teachings of his grandmother, Anchelo later studied at the Culinary Institute of America. After graduating, he worked for the Disney organization, designing menus, and then moved to Brownsville, Texas to spend nine years as Executive Chef of a local restaurant, Shenanigans.
After starting at Harlingen CC earlier this year, Anchelo told Sommer that his time at the country club has been a great one. In his new role, he frequently visits with diners in what he calls “table touches.”
“Basically, the guests own the country club,” he says. “So for them, they really want to know who is behind the meal.”
When asked if he has big plans for the country club, Anchelo said people will have to wait and see.
“The sky is the limit,” he says. “At the end of the day, it’s not about the title or the money—it’s about making people happy.”
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