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Mercy Hospital Assistant Food Service Director Chris Damiani – a former chef at the Buffalo Yacht Club, Orchard Park Country Club and Frog Hair restaurant – knows the harsh reality of work in a commercial kitchen.

“I’m not going to lie to you. For years, I wasn’t a healthy eater,” he said. “You would starve all day working, and work long hours, and then hit McDonald’s for the drive-thru on the way home.”

Damiani, 47, of Hamburg, broke the habit while helping his wife, Liza, raise three sons, now 17, 12 and 9. It also helped landing a daytime gig – with a half-hour lunch break – nearly two years ago at Mercy.

How do you deal with family meals these days?

Friday night I’ll spend planning my meals for the week, breakfast, lunch and dinner. I will plan my shopping list for the next seven days with my wife, everything from the vegetables – where we’re going to get them – to the chicken and the (other) proteins we’re going to select.

Living in Hamburg is a lucky land for me, because we have Hoelscher’s (meats) and Clark’s (poultry and seafood) and Braymiller’s (produce market), and those three places really allow you to live better.

I shop local and it helps.

– Scott Scanlon

On the Web: See Damiani’s spaghetti squash pasta recipe at blogs.buffalonews.com/refresh