Behind the scenes at the upcoming Southwestern Barbecue will be Executive Chef Chris Hale, from left, assisted by sous chefs Claudia Hale, Neil D’Amato and Kelsey Desmond from the Francis de Sales Parish Council. Photo by Betty Wrenn Day
Put on your boots, hat and spurs. There’s going to be a “Southwestern Bar-B-Que” at Francis de Sales Roman Catholic Church in Mathews on Aug. 18. And when I say Southwestern, I mean real Southwestern.
The executive chef for the evening is Christopher Hale who knows what the term Southwestern really means. He grew up as a child in a small town in southwest Texas. “My mother is from Texas. We selected this theme because it is something different and it is comprised of good ‘cowboy foods.’”
Assisting Chris will be two sous chefs, his wife Claudia Hale whom you remember as a great baker when she ran Grandma’s Bakery (Gazette-Journal, November 2007) and Neil D’Amato who has cooked professionally and is well known in the parish for his outstanding cooking abilities.
Other members of Francis de Sales will prep foods, hosting, serving attired in their best cowboy outfits, and of course there are the ticket sellers who are out working as we read. They hope to reach 250 buyers.
Chris says he has been a chef “all my life.” He has worked in many of the major hotels from New York to California with the Ritz Carlton in Los Angeles being his last position as a civilian chef. “I joined the Merchant Marine where I served as Chief Steward. In fact, that’s where I met my wife.” In between some assignments Chris has taught at a chef school. Now retired, he’s sharing his talent and expertise with his community and friends. Chris explains why he should have been a native of Virginia, “but it just didn’t happen. My mother and dad were living in Virginia and decided to take a vacation trip to New York. Well, with the ride and all the excitement, I surprised my mother and she had to be rushed to the hospital in New York where I was born. I guess I have to say I’m from New York.”