But inside of an hour as a chef at the Sandusky Eagles Aerie, I understood what it’s all about.
I joined Sandusky Eagles chef Gary LaMarca on Thursday for an “On the Job” segment, gobbling up all kinds of culinary secrets as we pieced together a lunch and dinner. We worked our way around the kitchen, chopping up green peppers and onions for some meatloaf.
“You’re doing a great job,” LaMarca said, laughing. “I don’t think so” I said. It was hard to buy a comment from a man who’s laughing. “Let me see that” he said, taking the knife. I’m not bad with a cutting knife in the kitchen, but LaMarca is much faster. He quickly chopped the peppers and onions into tiny pieces for the meatloaf we were making. We prepared a heaping bowl of hamburger, about 10 pounds worth, along with plenty of green peppers, onions and spices. (Sorry, I can’t reveal his recipe.)
All that was left was to mix it together. I rolled up my sleeves as far as possible and donned some gloves, then got to work folding, blending and mixing.
The hamburger was cold and fresh.
Pretty soon, I felt like Nigella Lawson or Giada De Laurentiis, those sexy food queens who get into their recipes by mixing the ingredients with their hands.
The meatloaf would be on Thursday’s dinner menu. We placed the mix into a large pan, separating it into two loaves, then popped it in to cook for about 90 minutes.
The Eagles has become LaMarca’s home — the members love him, including Sarah and Shirley Drossman and LouAnn McFarlin. They’ve sort of adopted him as a son.
LaMarca isn’t just a good cook. His laughter and fun personality are magnetic. Paired with his great food concoctions, he can lure in members, said longtime member Kenneth Miller.
He’s been head chef at the Sandusky Eagles Aerie for two years.
During my visit Thursday, I also made a personal pizza and a salad while LaMarca made a hamburger and fries.
It was lunchtime fare for Sarah, Shirley and LouAnn.
“That is as good as the pizza he makes” Sarah said.
I threw up my hands in victory.
The Eagles is a members’ club — men’s dues are $30, while it’s $14 for auxiliary women members.
Lunch and dinner are available only to members, with lunch starting at 10 a.m. and dinner lasting until about 9 p.m.
Lesser known, however, is that some events at the Sandusky Eagles are open to the public, such as the weekend bands and the breakfast buffet, which includes an omelet station.
The breakfast buffet, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sundays, is becoming more popular as word spreads.
“Last week, we served 77 people” LaMarca said.