Chef Q & A: Jimmy Barney

The Italian Deli and Market

247 North Collier Boulevard, Marco

Jimmy Barney

Chef/Owner

Italian Deli & Market

247 North Collier Blvd., South Seas Plaza. Phone: 394-9493.

Hours: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday; 4 to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday (pizza available); closed Sunday. Catering available anytime.

Began working at present restaurant?

I opened the Italian Deli & Market thirteen years ago on October 19, 1995.

What is it about food that motivates you to cook?

I enjoy eating and if you enjoy eating there’s nothing better than doing it yourself or marry someone who is a good cook. My wife is that wonderful cook.

What was your first restaurant job?

The Abbondanza Meat Market & Deli at 1710 Utica Avenue in Brooklyn, N.Y.

How long have you been cooking professionally?

Ever since I decided I enjoyed eating and way, way before 1990 when I became the Marco Island Marriott Resort’s Banquet Chef/Manager for five years before opening the Italian Deli &Market.

What is the most unusual dish you ever cooked?

Being Italian means we have a very traditional cuisine that includes traditional sea foods like scungilli or calamari that someone who’s not Italian may think are unusual. I personally think the calamari tentacles are the tastiest part and also the squid ink we use to make black pasta.

Are you planning changes to your menu for the summer season?

Not really, again we have a tradition of consistency. Our quality, food and service is the best you’ll find on the island. Our customers come here for good Italian traditional deli and our specialties like calzone and stromboli that are not on our regular summer menu but we do make them to order for customers.

What is the most popular dish on your menu?

Our soups, sandwiches and pizzas. Every customer has a different favorite.

What is one food that you’ll never eat? Why?

Beef liver, my mother used to make it because it was my father’s favorite dish. But you know, I really like chopped chicken liver pate. Go figure!

Who would you like to cook a meal for? Why?

My mother, her favorite dish was pork chops baked with vinegar peppers. On her birthday — Nov. 14 — she really enjoyed eating two hot dogs from Nathan’s on Coney Island. No matter if it was cold and raining we would still take her there.

What is your most essential cooking implement? Why?

My commercial pizza oven — it’s the heart of the Italian Deli & Market — it’s not only to bake pizza, we can cook practically everything in it.

What is your favorite TV cooking show?

Molto Mario used to be before I went to Vegas recently and he charged me 49 bucks for a little mound of orecchiette with a few stems of broccoli rabe and tiny bits of sausage.

What would you like to be doing if you weren’t a chef?

Ultimately, I’d like to own a big RV and tour the United States.

What annoys you most in the kitchen?

It depends on what day it is.

What do you enjoy most about your profession?

Making good food for nice people.

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