Chef Jose Calzada is originally from Chicago. He graduated with a culinary degree from Kendall College and spent a lot of his early years in the kitchen at Italian and French eateries. He took over as Executive Chef at Culp’s Café at Carillon Park last year. The historic restaurant was originally opened in 1902 by Charlotte Gilbert Culp, a young widow with six children, began baking and selling bread, cakes and rolls by having her children go door to door in their West Third Street neighborhood. Soon they had a stand at the South Main Street market with the “Culp’s Cake” being a best seller. Her eldest son, Howard Gilbert Culp, leased space in the Arcade, and expanded the business selling poultry, eggs, cheese, and dill pickles at three lunch counters where downtown workers could purchase a complete lunch for 35 cents!
In the 1930s, the Culps opened a cafeteria in the Arcade across from Keith Theater. The cafeteria specialized in home-
cooked food and was famous for its pies and pastries. Dayton’s population boomed in the 1940s and Culp’s cafeteria served as many as 5,000 customers a day. Culp’s was the first restaurant in Dayton to have air conditioning and the first electric Hammond organ in the area. As the downtown area changed due to the development of suburbs and the popularity of television, the Culp family reluctantly sold the business in 1960.
The spirit of this family-operated restaurant lives on at Carillon Historical Park with Chef José Calzada managing Culp’s Café 7 days a week and working daily with his wife Carol. Starting June 2nd Culp’s Cafewill be serving up breakfast, Sat – Mon from 7:30am-3:00pm. They are also open for lunch Tues- Fri 11am – 3pm. Culp’s is located at 1000 Carillon Blvd, at Carillon Park.
DaytonDining wants to treat one of our readers to a FREE breakfast at Culp’s Cafe. Just leave a comment below telling us why you’d like to have breakfast at Culp’s and a random winner will be drawn on Friday from the commenters.
And now Chef Jose answers DaytonDining’s 10 questions:
What is your favorite ingredient to cook with?
I love to cook with fresh herbs, like Oregano, Thyme, Rosemary and especially Basil – I love the taste and the smell of it. Using fresh herbs brings out a better flavor on soups, meats and sauces.
What ingredient do you dread?
I really dread working with kale I don’t like the taste and the smell. If I had to use it I would only use it as a garnish. No offense to kale lovers.
What’s your favorite dish to make?
I love to make soups, a nice chicken noodle soup or corn chowder on a cold day or a chilled avocado soup with fresh crab meat on a hot summer day . 10 or 15 years ago I would have said pates or terrines . When I first started cooking I used to love making duck liver pate and vegetable or meat terrines.
What’s your favorite pig out food?
I love cheeseburgers, here in Dayton I like to go to Smashburger. My favorite place to go for a burger is Illinois Bar and Grill in Chicago , their one pound burgers are the best I have ever had.
What restaurant, other then your own do you like to dine at in the Miami Valley?
My wife and I love to go to Tony’s Italian Kitchen on North Main Street in Englewood, it is a very small neighborhood restaurant with great food, but most of all authentic. We have tried everything on the menu and we are always satisfied.
What’s your best advice for home chefs?
Have fun doing what you love! Like one of my chef instructors would always say “It is not rocket science, just have fun and enjoy it!”
If you could invite any 4 guests to a dinner party who would they be and why?
I wouldn’t know were to start there are a lot of people to choose from like by brother who passed away 12 years ago, my mentors Chef John Hogan and Chef Mike Greagson. There are also my chef instructors, my collies, my favorite athletes and actors and actresses . It would be very hard to just pick 4 guests.
Who do you look up in the industry and why?
I look up to a lot of people in this industry, from a chef I have had the pleasure to know like, Priscilla Satkof, who has been one of the top female chefs in Chicago for over 15 years, Michel Coatrieux who is a chef instructor for over 25 years, Georges “Kiki” Cuisance who has been in the restaurant business for over 35 years and still doing a great job. To the celebrity chefs like Gordon Ramsay, Emeril Lagasse who have educated many people about food.
What do you do in the Miami Valley on a day off ?
In my day off I like to spend as much time with my family as I can, in this business you don’t have many days off. So we go to the movies, out to dinner or just to the park.
Share a kitchen disaster, lucky break or other interesting story.
The best time I had ever had in the kitchen was when we cooked a dinner for Julia Child and a group of friends. I was working at Kiki’s Bistro as a sous chef at the time. The chef and I prepared a 5 course dinner for them with the main entrée of Roasted Squab ( that’s what she order in advance). After the dinner the waiter came to the kitchen and said that she wanted to meet the chefs who prepared the wonderful meal. That was one of the best feelings I ever had as a chef – cooking and meeting someone I idolized growing up, and a person I watched on TV. It was an experience I will never forget.