Dorothy O’ Day’s just opened their doors to the public and has a menu like no other Irish restaurant. This restaurant has great tasting, authentic Irish food and a challenge that is almost considered impossible, ‘The Isle of Man Irish Breakfast Challenge.’ This challenge consists of a mound of corned beef hash, half pound of bacon, 6 bangers, Irish potatoes, Texas toast, 13 eggs cooked anyway, and you have 30 minutes to complete it. I was able to ask their executive chef, DJ Friedman, a few questions as he prepares for their Grand Opening on August 28.
- Who is Dorothy O’Day?
She is the owner’s grandmother. A picture of her hangs above our bar so we don’t forget our namesake. I’m not sure of her exact history so you’d have to ask Chris DiFiori (owner of Dorothy O’ Days) about that.
- What is your favorite item on the menu?
The Coney Island Sausenger, it’s a giant half pound, certified angus beef hotdog that’s topped with my Guinness and black bean chili, lots of sharp cheddar cheese, fresh onions and scallions. It doesn’t matter how many time I see it, it’s just huge. We had to serve it on a submarine roll its so big. With the chili on top made with certified angus beef and smokey chipotle peppers the full flavor of the hotdog and the smokey sweetness of the chili just match perfectly. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a good chili dog?
- Who is your favorite chef?
definitely Julia Child. I can remember, as a child, waking up early Saturday and Sunday morning to watch her cooking shows. I really loved it
when she and Jacques Pepin teamed up. They were two chefs who came from
entirely different sides of the culinary world but made it work. They
both wanted to elevate home cooking, to teach people a love for their food and
to make dining, not just eating, an everyday special occasion to be savored
and shared with friends and family alike.
- What has been the highlight of your culinary career, so far?
I worked in Southampton on Long Island while in college and met celebrities and socialites. While still I college I cooked for the likes of Tom hanks, the Mars family, owners of M&M Mars Corporation, and even met and befriended an Olympic silver medalist. I’ve work for Tom Colicchio while in Las Vegas and personally cooked for Howie Mandell. But, the best thing happened while I was still in college. Julia Child, shortly before she passed, made a trip to The Culinary Institute of America while I was a student and held a campus wide question and answer session. I was one of only 12 students asked to personally attend a luncheon in her honor where I had the chance to sit and talk with her. She relayed her life story, lessons and passion to each us before taking the time to sit down with each of us and answer our questions one on one. The chance to be able to not only meet, but pick the brain of someone integral to my life choices was amazing.
- Where did you work before Dorothy O’Days Irish Pub?
I spent a few years in Las Vegas working in the hotels and casinos as well as many of the local restaurants. I had the fortune to work for Tom Colicchio at ‘Wichcraft and Craft Steak.’ Here in the capital region I’ve worked for a number of local businesses including Cornell’s in Schenectady, The Albany Marriott, Vin Santo Tapas and Wine Bar in Latham as well as at both: The Van Dyck in the Historic Stockade District, in Schenectady. I also worked with the food service management company Prestige Service on the campus of Schenectady County Community College.
- When did you start getting into culinary arts?
My parents would know better than I, but I had a love of food and cooking from a very young age. My first creation was an absolutely horrid peanut butter and jelly sandwich with bologna, mayo and American cheese on wheat bread. I must have been five or six at the time. I can remember my father telling me after I decided how bad it was that I had to eat it all because then I’d learn what doesn’t go good together and what does.
- What kind of specials are going to be offered?
We will offer a variety of dishes ranging from classic Irish dishes, like boxty and lamb stew, to modern day sandwiches and entree with a fusion of flavors from all over the world. My staff has already been thinking of crazy creations like those you might see on the Food Network shows Man Vs Food and Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. We are independently owner and we want to show that freedom.
- How was the ‘Isle Of Man Irish Breakfast Challenge’ created?
When I first interviewed for the job I was given two challenges, create a modern Irish pub menu and create a food challenge. At first I’d thought to do a burger or sandwich like I’d seen on so many tv shows. Then I thought to myself “Every time someone says you have to have this or that because everyone else does I immediately ran in the opposite direction. If everyone has it then it’s not going to make us stand out.” With that in mind I decided to pass on the burger and sandwich and focus on something I almost never eat, breakfast. Our owner wanted a version of an Irish breakfast. Why couldn’t I make a truly colossal sized breakfast for the challenge? So I did. Now we have a nearly five and a half pound breakfast challenge like no one you’ve ever seen. Every part of it is made by us right down to the corned beef hash. It showcases our Irish roots and our scratch cooking all in one.
- If you could describe the menu in one word, what would it be?
I don’t know if one word can describe it. To steal a little catch phrase from one of our cooks I’d have to say “Bring me more, I’ll get it in if I have to get a running start.” Mind you, he was talking about filling a moving truck when he said that, not the menu, but it describes us pretty well.
- Is there any reward or prize for beating the ‘Isle Of Man Irish Breakfast Challenge’?
Of course there is! If you can eat everything on the platter in 30 minutes or less without any help or accident you get your meal for free. You also get your picture hung on our wall of fame and a t-shirt that reads “I conquered the Isle of Man at Dorothy O’Day’s Irish Pub”. We had our first challenger on the third day we were open. He gave it a heroic try by tapped out with only a minute and seven seconds remaining and about five mouthfuls left. It’s a truly colossal challenge. As we say, though, “You can challenge all you want, but you can only win once”.