With a love of food and travel, Frewsburg High School graduate Joe Town is sharing his passions with the Chautauqua region.
“Being Italian, we always gathered around the dinner table and that was the center of our family. We bonded over our meals. (The food) wasn’t just fuel, it was an experience. And as I got older my love of food and travel, grew,” Town said.
He attended Niagara University and earned his Bachelor of Science degree in hotel and restaurant management. As part of his education, he was required to complete 800 hours of practical experience. Many of those hours were completed when he returned home for the summer.
“I worked at Pace’s Pizza (in Jamestown) during the summer between my junior and senior year. I got some great experience ordering (food and materials), scheduling (other workers), and networking with other food purveyors,” Town said.
He also had the opportunity to study abroad while attending Niagara University and spent one semester in Europe, traveling to Spain, Ireland, France and Italy while completing his coursework.
“Most people who are in this field, travel. Research and development for some companies might be reading magazines or going to expos, and that is still the case. But really, for hospitality in the culinary world, we have to go directly to the source, and sometimes that source is Italy or France,” he said.
After nearly three years of working as general manager at Andriaccio’s Restaurant, Town accepted the position of club manager at Moon Brook Country Club in January. In his new role at Moon Brook, he is responsible for many aspects of the guests’ experience at the club, most importantly the restaurant.
“My hopes are that Moon Brook continues to be a landmark in Jamestown and stands the test of time. We have a tremendously talented chef and it’s amazing what our culinary team can do,” he said.
Town works with many local vineyards and growers to create a “local flavor” in his work.
A certified sommelier, or wine expert, Town is the only Level Two sommelier in the county. He has designed and developed wine lists for area restaurants and bars, including a handcrafted one for Moon Brook.
“Wine is one of my biggest passions. To be able to open a bottle of wine from any corner of the world and be able to travel to that location in just a couple of sips and be able to share that with people is really cool,” he said.
For students who may be considering a career in hospitality or restaurant management, Town advises them to make sure it is something they love, due to the hectic lifestyle and long hours.
“If you don’t love what you do and you’re not passionate about it, you will burn out.” Town said. “Don’t be afraid to work holidays, weekends and long hours.”
And while Town has traveled to many places around the world, and continues to make plans to travel to new locations, the Chautauqua region will always be his home base.
“Every time I go somewhere, I catch myself saying ‘I could live here,’ but the truth is, I always wanted to come back here,” he said. “This is a very special area.”
This feature is part of a series focusing on residents who have received scholarships from the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation and have moved back to or remained in, the area to live and work. If you, or someone you know, received a scholarship from the Community Foundation and would like to be featured, contact Sarah Shelters at 661-3390 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Community Foundation is now accepting scholarship applications for the 2016-2017 school year. To qualify, students must have graduated from a Chautauqua County high school. Scholarships are offered to undergraduate and graduate students studying a variety of subjects and vocations at two-year or four-year colleges or universities.