IN THE KITCHEN with Chef Drew Tuano

Welcome Adelene! We’re so glad you’re here.

If you’ve never dined at Port-O-Call Hotel, I implore you to reconsider; it’s an entirely different, and better, experience than previous years. The hotel is family-owned by the Scully Company, and the owners and management decided last winter that their on-site restaurant was in need of a total makeover. In fact, they decided that the entire dining experience was in need of a total reboot. So out went the old and in came Adelene – fresh, intimate, cozy, elegant and worthy of its beachfront location.

27 copyAnd with the new restaurant came a new chef, Andrew Tuano. Andrew is a Jersey guy who grew up in Gloucster County and attended the Academy of Culinary Arts in Mays Landing. He came aboard over the winter as crews were tearing out carpet and busting down walls. Chef Andrew was charged with tearing out the old menu items and replacing them with dishes that were, well, better. It’s no secret that diners are more educated today, and they expect a quality experience every time they sit down at a table. And from what I’ve seen Chef Andrew, as well as management and the entire staff at Port-O-Call Hotel, has done a great job with the entire project. But you should go see for yourself. Port-O-Call has always had excellent restaurant space complete with beachfront views and they’ve definitely upped their game with this redesign. And if you catch a glimpse of the always-busy Chef Andrew, maybe you could ask him for some gardening advice. Read on…

 

OC Mag: Give me your background story Drew; where are you from, where’d you learn to cook, all that stuff.135

Chef Drew: I grew up in Clayton, NJ, outside of Glassboro – do you know where Clayton is?

OC mag: Not really, should I?

Chef Drew: It’s about an hour west of here. Exit 53 on Route 55. I graduated from the Academy of Culinary Arts in Mays landing – ACA – it’s still there. So I’ve been cooking for about 31 years. That makes me sound old doesn’t it?

OC mag: Well now that you mention it, yes, it does. But you look good and that’s what counts.

Chef Drew: I’ve been cooking my entire life. It’s been my only profession. I’ve always cooked in restaurants. I started as a dishwasher, put myself through school and worked my way up through chef positions. I’ve always worked in South Jersey. I worked in Batsto, the Clayton area and then I moved to Cape May in ’98.

OC mag: So where in Cape May did you work?

Chef Drew: I worked for the Washington Inn for almost six years. I was the executive chef at the Chalfonte Hotel for a couple years, I was the executive chef at Congress Hall for several seasons and most recently I was the chef at Martini Beach. I paid my dues down here. I worked at a lot of very nice places for a lot of very nice people.

OC mag: You definitely did time at some notable restaurants. So how did you come to be here in the OC?

Chef Drew: I answered an ad. They closed Martini Beach at the end of last season – the new owner decided to in a new direction. So I started looking for work, answered an ad, interviewed here and started working in mid-February.

OC mag: So how’s it going?

Chef Drew: It’s been great. When I got here they let us start all over, so we redesigned the menu. Dining Room Manager Joanie Adams and General Manager Glenn Losch and I started at the beginning. We sat down and decided what kind of dishes we wanted to put out. We wanted good quality food. We wanted things made fresh and made to order. Simply put they wanted guests to walk in and have a great meal, to have a great experience.

OC mag: So how’s it going half-way through?

Chef Drew: We’re doing very well. We’re getting fantastic results and people are liking us. We’ve been giving our all.

OC mag: Give me a quick run down on the new menu.

Chef Drew: We wanted to improve everything; we wanted to take everything to a better level. Everything is ala minute (a culinary term meaning “made to order”). We’re really known for breakfast but lunch has been good and the dinners are definitely picking up as word gets out. There are some standards on the menu as well as some personal touches.

OC mag: So what did I fail to ask?

Chef Drew: Well thanks for not asking me my favorite food (laughing). I just love what I do. I like to work all the station on the line from the grill on up. I love to cook. And I’m a hands-on chef; I like to be involved. I’ve worked with some great chefs and the great ones are always hands-on. In a small restaurant you can’t sit behind a desk – now in a larger place it’s a different story. But I like being involved, hearing feedback and seeing results.

OC mag: When you get a little down time, what do you do?

Chef Drew: I have turned my yard into a large garden so I do a lot of vegetable and flower gardening. I also have a small soap company so I manufacture soaps and lotions.

OC mag: Wait. What?

Chef Drew: Yes. It’s called 210 Soap Company. It’s my last name.

OC mag: Two, one, oh… Tuano… oh yes! I get it.

Chef Drew: So yes, it’s pronounced like my last name but it’s 210. Normally when you’re a chef you’re totally involved in the restaurant but I do have that one hobby. You can find my soaps at the Cape May Honey Farm. I’m slowly making my way up the coast. I also like to go to the movies.

OC mag: Have you been out and about in Ocean City yet?

Chef Drew: No. To be honest I put in 12 to 14 hour days and then I sleep. I haven’t had a chance to do anything. When I had the time to go through town in the winter, nothing was open. Then summer came and everything opened but I got busy. But I plan on exploring in September.

Adelene inside the Port-O-Call Hotel serves breakfast from 7:30am to 11am, lunch from noon to 2pm and dinners on Friday and Saturday.