The Observer-Dispatch Accent On Exellence - by Mary C. Marchio
UTICA—The risk of opening a business in his hometown was scary for Jason Nole at first. But his flair for preparing enticing meals proved early on he had nothing to worry about.
Jason Nole, 25, of Wtiitesboro, and co-owner of Cafe CaNole in Utica, was chosen to receive an Accent on Excellence Award for his commitment to serving unique food dishes in the pastry and bistro shop he owns with his brother. Dean.
"It's a long day, but you're constantly moving," Jason said about starting at 6:30 a.m. as a master ohef. "Every time you plate a you're creating something. It's like creating a picture."
Mike Ezzo of Whitesboro, who owns Babe's Macaroni Bar and Grill and Carmella's Cafe, said he admires Jason Nole for using the best ingredients and techniques when he prepares dishes.
"He has been practicing authentic, old-world recipes you just don't find in this area," Ezzo said. "They do things the way they have to be done."
Nole's degree in culinary arts from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park taught him the cooking and baking skills of a pro, but he also learned tricks and traditions at a young age from family members.
The Noles' mother, Linda Knight of Utica, and their grandmothers, Antoinette Nole and Mary Carlesimo, all were excellent cooks, Jason said. Their father, businessman Arthur Nole of Utica, helped the brothers with the business side of Cafe CaNole when it opened in 1996.
The atmosphere of bistro and pastry shop is a mix of old-world Italian charm with modern, black furniture and espresso machines. Pictures of the Noles with family members and scenes of Italian-Americans from popular movies hang on the walls.
The Noles chose the decor because it provides "table talk," Jason said. A colossal oil painting of men enjoying a glass of wine around a table includes the faces of Frank Sinatra, Robert DeNiro, and Dean and Jason Nole.
Many of Jason's creations come from traveling to other American cities or Italy, then merging dishes he experienced with his own techniques. He loves cooking with meats and seafood, but prefers to keep ingredients simple.
"I create layers of flavor," he said. "It's always constant thinking and constant creating."
His inventive ability to change menus with the seasons is another feature that keeps patrons coming back. He is now working on a new menu for fall.
Adjusters International-President and CEO Ronald Cuccaro nominated Nole for the Accent on Excellence Award because of his creative ideas and the integrity he brings to the job.
"The two of them working together really complement each other," Cuccaro said of the brothers. He was also impressed by the Noles' generosity and their willingness to donate food and pastries to local events.
"They're real gentlemen and very consistent," he said.
Before opening Cafe CaNole, Jason cooked and made pastries and cakes at the former Donna Marie's Restaurant in Frankfort, cooked at Lupino's Trackside Tavern in Utica and at Olive's Restaurant in Boston, Mass.
The Noles' decision to open a business in Utica after working in different cities in the U.S. and Italy was easy, because they had their family close by. Still, Jason said he was a bit nervous at first about venturing out on his own.
"It's amazing how things turned out," he said.
"There's more tradition here than in any other city."
“We're very lucky, because at a young age we knew what we wanted to do?”
Dean Nole, co-owner, Cafe CaNole
Their place is in the kitchen
UTICA — Cooking and making pastries in cities around the United States and Italy were exciting for Dean Nole, but the bonuses of working in Utica made him bring his skills back home.
Dean Nole, 30, co-owner of the bistro and pastry shop Cafe CaNole in Utica, was chosen as an Accent on Excellence Award winner because of the delicious pastries he bakes and the professionalism he demonstrates on the job.
He is a master chef who bakes and decorates pastries and cakes at the establishment he owns with his brother, Jason, who cooks lunches and dinner entrees.
"We both know each other's line, but I like this better and he likes that better," Dean Nole said. "We're very lucky, because at a young age we knew what we wanted to do." Dean Nole
Whitesboro resident Mike Ezzo, owner of Babe's Macaroni Bar and Grill and Carmella's Cafe, said the Noles prepared food for his daughter's wedding and provided him with one of his most memorable experiences.
"They catered the best wedding I've been to," Ezzo said. "I couldn't have asked for anything better."
Dean holds degrees from the prestigious Gruppo Ristorante Italianne School in Torino, Italy, and the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. He cooked in two restaurants in Italy before opening Cafe CaNole in 1996.
He also cooked at the former Scamardo's Seneca Inn in New Hartford and cooked and specialized in cakes and pastries at the former Donna Marie's Restaurant in Frankfort.
"This award is a great honor because there are a lot of good people in the area," he said.
Adjusters International President and CEO Ronald Cuccaro, who nominated him for the Accent on Excellence Award, said he was always struck by Dean's work when he catered events for Cuccaro's company.
"I was always very impressed by his attention to detail and quality," Cuccaro said. "Everything is always delicious, and he is very easy to work with."
Known for making cannolis, pusties, a variety of cookies and intricate cakes, Dean said he learned to love food at a young age from family members.
Although he often helps Jason prepare lunch and dinner entrees, his passion is pastry. "You can be creative with pastries," Dean said.
Working in Utica after cooking in premier restaurants and pastry shops in Italy was not a hard choice for Dean, a Whitesboro High School graduate.
"It's just nice to be in your own back yard," he said. "It's exciting to be around your family and friends."
He continues traveling to different regions of Italy with Jason for ideas, but always keep a balance with old-world techniques.
"You don't want to get stale. It's important to have new ideas, but keep the tradition," Dean said.