Dear friends,

I remember reading that Mother’s Day is the busiest day of the year for many restaurants. In Naples, it is a sign of the coming summer season. Have you noticed the two new benches on either side of Ridgway’s front steps? They honor Sukie’s mom, Marge Probst, and my mother, Harriet Ridgway. Thank you, DeeDee, for making that happen!

Also heralding summer’s arrival, Ridgway Bar & Grill will offer a daily three-course prix fixe dinner menu starting Monday, May 13. The menu is $49 per person, and is available from 4:30pm to close each evening.

On a somber note, you may be aware that Jim Badger, who entertained us years ago with his wit and flair, died in April. Jim was an integral part of Ridgway’s early success. The only thing better than Jim and his humor were the nights that his talented wife Jane sang with him. Our thoughts are with her and their family. There will be a celebration of Jim’s life on Saturday, May 19 at 2pm at the Eva-Sugden Gomez Center at Baker Park. I’ll see you there.

As season winds down, Wynne and I travel more. We recently returned from a visit with dear friends in Arizona. While there, I was given a folder of menus from The Chef’s Garden dating to 1981-82, reminders of that special time in my culinary career.

In the cookbook Kitchen Privileges, in the chapter entitled, There Was a Time…, I wrote, “In the late 1970s and well into the 1980s my fascination with French cuisine was boundless.” The old Chef’s Garden menus reflect that philosophy. The recipe in the referenced chapter is for duck galantine. I don’t know of karma and similar oddities, but one of the menus in the folder has Galantine of Duck as an appetizer.

prix fixe imge
The duck galantine recipe is daunting. I can imagine how even advanced home cooks might react. To my knowledge, no one has attempted it! If you have the book, read that chapter and recipe, and let’s talk about work, passion, and 53 years and counting in this business. If you don’t have the book, I know where you can get one.

During a presentation not too long ago to The League Club, we covered my love of food and the cookbook. I always enjoy talking with anyone who loves food as I do! I do believe our food is as good as anyone’s. If you noticed a certain Naples restaurant on a list of top brunch spots in the U.S., and don’t want to spend $200 per person for brunch, stop by Ridgway. Cinnamon rolls, eggs Benedict and omelets, brioche donuts…. The Santa Fe French toast and the sausage hash with sweet corn grits cakes are terrific.

An important note of transition at Bayside: Abel Gonzalez, our 24-year chef, has retired. I am grateful for his friendship and commitment over the years. Juan de la Rosa will move up from executive sous chef. Bayside has been consistently loved throughout its history, largely under Abel’s watch. We’re excited for Juan to continue that legacy.

Three years ago, I began cutting back on expo shifts in the kitchen. Nowadays you’re likely to find me by the front desk at Ridgway in my new custom swivel chair ( thank you, Kelly). My feet are happier and it’s fun to talk with everyone. It’s also a great way for me to stay close to the action, and to know where we’re excelling, and where more can be done. Coming by for our summer prix fixe menu? Stop to say hi! Let’s talk about cookbooks and travel and summer in Naples.

Your friend,

Tony