Although not a native of the Youngstown area, impassioned chef Anthony Palumbo arrived at The Youngstown Club with not only an impressive resume, but a discernable respect for the history of the facility.
For the most part born and raised in New Castle, Palumbo began working in the kitchen of the Dolce Vita Restaurant while a sophomore in high school.
“My high school memories are different than most. Every Friday and Saturday was spent in the kitchen,” he said, adding where, working under the direction of Condi and Angie Augustine, he developed an awareness that for him, life in the kitchen would become much more than a first job.
“It was such a sense of family,” said Palumbo, adding that he attained from the environment a work ethic that shaped him as he learned that life wasn’t all about baseball games and riding bikes.
“I had a good background. I knew what good food was from my family,” he said, recalling that right out of high school, and even while employed at Dolce Vita, he had no interest in culinary school or being a professional chef.
Moving to Pittsburgh however, Palumbo was hired as a line cook at Piccolo Piccolo.
“A great place,” he said, adding that he worked with some really good people, learned a lot, and realized “Maybe I do want to do this.”
“To do this for a profession you have to love the almost organized chaos that it is -- the rush, the deadlines,” he said.
Returning to New Castle, Palumbo served as sous chef at Sghetti’s, and later added to his experience, kitchen manager at The New Englander Banquet Center. He also had a hand in the opening of Wheelhouse at the Rivers Casino, and his final job prior to executive chef at the Youngstown Club, the Duquesne Club in Pittsburgh.
“Going to work was an honor,” said Palumbo of Duquesne, where he said he met top chefs from around the world, and yet, remains glad he made the move.
“I had the golden ticket,” he said of working at Duquesne, adding that he could have gone anywhere. The appeal of the Youngstown Club however, won him over.
“I love challenges,” he said, adding that “city clubs are becoming very rare.” Sharing that he recognizes a lot of potential in the facility, Palumbo said he sees a big reward in keeping a big part of the city of Youngstown alive.
Certain that he could succeed wherever the road takes him, “Proven techniques, well seasoned food, attention to detail — if you do those things right...” he said, offering up a surefire recipe for success.
Although still harboring the dream of someday opening an Italian restaurant serving regional Italian food, right now, Palumbo is certain he is where he’s meant to be.
Returning that china to its rightful place at the tables, familiarizing himself with those captured in the portraits, and yes, handling the delicate china placed behind glass for safekeeping is all a part of it. “Shenango China,” he says excitedly, turning over a plate to share the markings. “My grandmother worked there,” he said, pondering aloud whether she may have somehow had a hand in him ending up where he is.
“I am very close with my family,” Palumbo said, adding that he still goes back to visit his parents, who remain in the same home in which he grew up. Taking a step away from the chaos and the deadlines, he said he’ll often help his mom in the kitchen. Gathering some fresh cuttings from her homegrown herbs he said always leads to the same realization, “I still love this.”
Photos by Kathleen Palumbo, Town Crier correspondent
Having a full appreciation of the history of and beauty in the facility, Executive Chef Anthony Palumbo brings his talents to the tables of the Youngstown Club.