Nov 12, 2008 Ami Olson Uncategorized
The Longo family name may be displayed boldly above Carmen and Josephine’s dry cleaning shop on Cogswell Avenue in Solvay, a local establishment with more than 40 years in the village – but it’s what Longo does behind the scenes that he is best known for.
Longo, who grew up in Solvay, has been planning, cooking and serving up delicious dinners for the Stanley B. Pennock VFW Post and Geddes Vets for more than 25 years, along with a core group of helping hands, whose names he is quick to share: Steve Bagozzi, Mike Bederzolli, Larry Colelli, Archie DeJohn, Mike Gasapo and Donald Salvetti.
“He’s Chef Boyardee,” said Steve Bagozzi, giving credit back to Longo.
“It just all comes natural to me,” Longo said of his ability to put together menus and create meals. “I love to cook.”
He began his formal cooking career at Merchants Bank, where he was head chef manager for 18 years; prior to that, he worked in his brother’s restaurants, where he learned how to cook and manage in food service. He retired from the restaurant but did not lose his passion for cooking.
Longo and his late brother, Jim, passed on their culinary ways to Longo’s son John, who worked starting up restaurants throughout the country. John Longo passed away last year, but his father’s pride remains strong and visible, as he tells the story of one of John’s visits home, when he helped him build a pyramid of fruit for a function at the VFW hall.
“It was the talk of the village,” Longo laughed. “He was famous, he as a big-time chef.”
His pride extends to his two daughters, Marcia Brown and Sandy Longo, who live locally. Marcia decorates the hall for special occasions, Longo said.
Geddes Town Councilor Vincent Palerino’s father grew up on the same block as Longo, and he has known him for most of his life.
“Carmen’s one of those guys that’s always been the backbone,” Palerino said. He noted his “team of workers” that help Longo prepare meals and their dedication. “Every club’s got to have people like that.”
But Longo goes above and beyond.
“He’s always done his share and then some, and he’s just a good ol’ boy. He has that local pride, and he’s a can-do guy.” Palerino added. “And he always tries to make everybody’s buck stretch.”
Don’t expect Longo to sing his own praises, though – he’s too busy giving credit to everyone else, pointing out all that other people do for others.
He is the first to name off the men who help him in the kitchen, and point out that the meals he prepares and serves are paid for by the VFW and Geddes Vets. A veteran himself, Longo served 1943-45 in the Navy as a singleman second class, but he shifts conversation off of himself and to the donations of the veteran’s organizations give to community groups each year.
Luckily, there always seems to be someone around to give Longo the credit he deserves.
“He is one in a million,” said Bill Campanelli.