by Ken Tsui | Recently, Campagnolo chef Nathan Lowey decided to serve BBQ spiced pork ribs for staff meal. It’s a menu item often found Upstairs. But first, he has to butcher the ribs. An entire pig is delivered to the restaurant each week, so this is nothing new. He finds a cleaver that looks like something out of Mortal Kombat. “They usually use this to break open skulls,” he says with a laugh as he lifts it.
Meanwhile, chefs Michael “Freddy” Wu and Jesse McMillan are in the kitchen doing their own prep. Wu is working on his signature Freddy Fried Rice while McMillan is making a salad. Freddy Fried Rice is a staff meal favourite; a mainstay dish that found its name one night when someone accidentally started calling Michael “Freddy”. The name caught on (along with his fried rice) and the rest was history. “It could have been worse,” Michael says as he stirs the pot of rice, “Chef (Robert Belcham) kept calling someone ‘Cream Cheese’ one night…”
As Michael works on his rice, Lowey drops the freshly butchered pork ribs into the fryer and then tosses them in Campagnolo’s special blend of barbecue spices. As the meal comes together, McMillan tops his salad with crispy chicken skin and Wu finishes his contribution to the staff meal by frying up a few eggs. “This is how my mom does it,” he says spooning the crispy eggs over top his fried rice. The restaurant’s resident pasta maker, Zakkia, also added to the meal with batch lamb samosas made with black sesame dough.
The crew gathers around the table as the chefs walk in with their contributions. McMillan lays out chopsticks and plates. As everyone is taking a seat, chef and owner Robert Belcham walks in and exclaims, “This is all you’re making tonight?!” And then, with a chuckle, they dig in, family-style.