At Home in the Kitchen

Since June of 2012, West Park Tavern has quickly become a popular dining option for many residents of western Wake County. Located in Cary's West Park Place shopping center on Highway 55, the restaurant is a cozy neighborhood pub but with a menu that offers more than the standard fare. North Carolina wahoo tostados, baked four-cheese mac, eggplant parmesan and a cherry-wood-smoked pork porterhouse grilled to perfection are among the entrées.

Pete's "Cherry-Wood-Smoked Pork Porterhouse" recipe...

Cooking with Pete Susca

As an adolescent, Pete Susca found himself spending a lot of time in the kitchen with his grandmother.

“She was a great cook, and I have fond memories of us standing at her gas stove as she told me what to do,” said Susca. “She showed me how to make certain dishes and shared the secrets to her recipes that no one else in my family knows even today.”

A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, 32-year old Susca has spent more than half his life working with food. His professional résumé includes previous stints at Noble’s Grille in Winston-Salem, Nana’s Chophouse in Raleigh and Bistro 64 in Cary.

Currently, he’s executive chef at West Park Tavern, a thriving new gastropub located in western Cary. There he depends on a natural-gas-fired cooktop and grill to prepare the restaurant’s signature dishes.

In both his professional and personal life, Susca is a fan of cooking with gas.

“I’ve always worked with it,” said Susca. “As a chef, I have to have it because of its consistent heating factor and temperature control.”

And as a homeowner, Susca is equally insistent.

“If I own a place, I’ve got to have gas,” emphasized Susca. “Our home already had natural gas heat and water heat when we bought it, and I immediately replaced the electric stove with a gas one.”

Even though he cooks all day, every day for restaurant patrons, Susca still enjoys preparing meals for his family.

“It never gets old to me,” said Susca, “I’m as happy in my kitchen at home making dinner for my wife and son as I am creating new entrées for West Park Tavern.”

Susca cites the responsive quality of natural gas as a benefit that any beginner in the kitchen can master. And he’s quick to point out one important factor to remember before turning up the heat on a gas stove. “Recipes are designed with electric ranges in mind, and the electric heat fluctuates, so with gas burners you can set the heat a little lower and it will stay consistent,” said Susca. “Plus, with gas, you have the ability to cut the heat immediately, which helps if you’re new to cooking on a gas stove.”

So whether he’s preparing his family’s dinner or prepping for the production of many different entrées for one night’s dinner service, Susca enjoys the benefits of having natural gas in both his kitchen settings.
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