Stu Helm & Chef Joe Scully: AVL Food Fans Podcast Episode 5 – “Anthony is a Nice Guy”


Hello Asheville!

I’m super-stoked to report that Chef Joe Scully (Chestnut​, The Corner Kitchen​) and I have completed FIVE episodes of AVL Food Fans, and we’re working on a 6th!

Just in case you didn’t know, we do our podcast twice a month, every-other week!  It’s all about food, it’s always really fun to do, and from what I hear other food fans, it’s fun to listen to.

Joe is awesome and we always have a special guest who is part of the Asheville food and beverage scene!

On episode 5 we talk about airport and airplane food, as well as Scottish and Italian Food. Our special guest is Chef Anthony Cerrato from Strada and The Social Lounge, both on Broadway in Downtown Asheville.

For our 6th episode we’re adding a “food news” segment so if you have any food news, please post it here, or send it to me in a private FB message or put me on your CC list: [email protected]

The current episode of AVL Food Fans is now available for listening to with the player below, or by going to where you can also download it. It is available for free from the iTunes store as well.



After talking with Chef Anthony, I decided it was way past time I revisited Strada, so Dawn and I went a few days later and had an outstanding, home-style Italian meal.

We thought we’d be too spoiled after our trip to Italy, and I was a little bit nervous that Chef Anthony’s food would seem mediocre in comparison, but I am very happy to report that both Dawn and I enjoyed our meal very much, and I am definitely looking forward to the next time I get the urge to eat some Italian food.

I should admit here that I have not always been the biggest fan of Strada, and haven’t been a frequent diner there. I know Anthony from back in the day when I did a  little bit of work for Fred’s Speakeasy (owned by Anthony’s dad) and his other restaurant, Fiorre’s, and I really like him. He’s a super nice guy and is very personable and friendly and was always a pleasure to work for. I just always kinda wished that I liked his food better.

And now I do.  Yay!

For realz, the lasagna and involtini were both deep in flavor, cooked perfectly, and seemed to use high quality ingredients. I grew up in and around Boston for part of my young life, and got used to a certain level of standards for family-style Italian food by visiting the North End and just from the amazing mom-and-pop style pizza places that are everywhere around there. Dawn’s extended family ran an Italian restaurant in Michigan, called Ang-Gio’s, and she is an even harsher judge of good Italian food than I am. We both gave our meal at Strada a big thumbs-up.

Eggplant used for involtini is usually deep-fried, but Anthony pan-fried it by request and he did a great job. It was supple, and velvety, and had a mild yet delicious flavor. The angel hair pasta was cooked just right and all the stuff on top (cheese, sauce, green things) was very flavorful and rich.

Likewise, my lasagna was a great consistency all the way through, and had not been cooked-down to mush. The bolognese sauce was excellent and thick and chunky, but not too chunky, and it seemed to be made with fresh, locally grown ingredients, at least in part. It had veal, beef, and pork in it if I recall correctly, and it made me shut my eyes with satisfaction from the very first bite.

The ladies (Dawn and our server) kinda talked me into getting an extra meatball and an Italian sausage on the side, and I was very satisfied with those items as well! Meat meat meat! I used to be a vegetarian.  Long time ago.  Long long time ago now. Now I’m eating veal and shit.  Horrible.  Deliciously horrible.

Anyhoo, the entire meal was excellent, from the wine to the dessert to the atmosphere and service. We’ll be back for sure, and very much looking forward to it!


The lighting was not optimal for taking picture, sorry.  Here’s the eggplant involtini a la Strada. It looked and tasted great in real life.


Lasagna bolognese with extra meat. Here’s a tip to servers everywhere from a customer’s point of view. Please don’t call one meatball with a sausage the “Lance Armstrong.” First of all: Ew. Now I have a dick and ball on my plate. Secondly, I’m not sure that jokes about cancer are going to go over great with every single patron out there.

Thanks Chef Anthony for the great meal, and for being on AVL Food Fans with me and Chef Joe Scully!  Thanks as well to Chef Joe, Chestnut and The Corner Kitchen for sponsoring the show, as well as Matt Johnson from ZaPow Productions for producing the show, and to The Derita Sisters for allowing us to use their song “Cheese Wagon” as our theme.




Stu Helm is an artist and writer living in Asheville, NC, and a frequent diner at local restaurants, cafes, food trucks, and the like. His tastes run from hot dogs and mac ‘n’ cheese, to haute cuisine, and his opinions are based on a lifetime of eating out. He began writing about food strictly to amuse his friends on Facebook. 

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  1. WKRP was based upon a station here in Avl. WSKY.

  2. Big Al August 18, 2015

    Great show. A few comments.

    The Haggis is boiled, not baked.

    While traditional Haggis is boiled within the actual stomach of the sheep, or in the case of the Monster Haggis, in the large intestine, modern Haggis is cooked in a sheath or bag of cellulose which expands more and is thus less likely to burst while boiling than an actual stomach.

    As for fish & chips, I had resolved to avoid this as being too clichéd, but was surprised to find out that it is a both a staple food of the locals AND is heavily promoted to tourists. On the two occasions that I had fish & chips, it tasted the same as it does in Irish/British pubs in America, but the portions were HUGE. When you consider that most things in Britain are much more expensive than in America, the large portion size make fish & chips your best value for any meal.


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