Life To The Fullest

Silver Creek Man Embraces Life While Enjoying Many Interests

David Lewis sits in his music room at the piano his father refinished many years ago.

Silver Creek native David Lewis finds little time to sleep — he leads an interesting life doing the things he loves to do.

“I’m a happy guy. I’ve had a wonderful life and I like what I do,” he says. “I’ve been at the stove since I could reach it.”

When he was 18 years old he became the head chef at The Colony House in Silver Creek. Later, he opened a Mexican restaurant in Naples, Fla. and owned The Enchilada Warehouse in Westfield. He served as the head chef at Chautauqua’s St. Elmo’s Hotel in the early 80s.

In 1984, he was hired by Faculty Student Association at SUNY Fredonia, where he cooked at a short-order lunch restaurant and helped launch much of the catering, especially at the college president’s house. He was moved to the dining hall, where he felt he learned a lot about cooking, but found the hours to be unfavorable. He then took a position as a truck driver, making deliveries on campus. With apprehension, he moved into baking with a new baker who was obviously not happy to have a “greenhorn,” but he has held the position for seventeen years. The college took first place in a national collegiate catering event the year Lewis served as chef. In August 2017, he was presented the Fredonia Outstanding Administrative Services Award.

He enjoys managing the kitchen at Fellowship of the Spirit Learning Center in Cassadaga two weekends per month.

This 24-hour clock has been in David Lewis’ family for many generations.

“I hope to be involved at the Tally-Ho as it emerges into the coming years,” he says of the restaurant, which is situated on the grounds at Chautauqua Institution.

A love of cooking goes back many generations in the Lewis Family, with his grandmother owning The Irving Diner, which she ran 24 hours on demand, getting up out of bed whenever anyone stopped by for a meal.

Besides having a passion for cooking, Lewis enjoys golf and has coached the sport at Fredonia High School for the past 18 years. His father first took him golfing when he was just four years old. Until recently he had been a member of Tri-County Country Club, having held that membership for 44 years.

Music is another of his passions, which he may have acquired from his mother’s side. He tells about his grandmother graduating from Fredonia College two times. She was an art and music teacher, who loved teaching music, but was required to teach art, as well, thus her return to college in an attempt to hone her art skills.

“The music and the harmony in my life was beautiful growing up,” says the grandson.

This Crock-Pot Chuck Roast is David Lewis’ number one simplest recipe.

Lewis begun singing in barbershop quartets in 1984 and is the frontline music director of Jamestown Harmony Express Barbershop Chorus. He has been in 13 registered quartets and has competed six times in international competitions. Jamestown Harmony Express is currently readying for an upcoming gospel concert on May 5 at Christ First United Methodist Church, 663 Lakeview Avenue, Jamestown. Tickets can be purchased by calling 499-5248.

He is a eucharistic minister at St. Albans Episcopal Church in Silver Creek.

“My church and my barbershop are my most favorite things,” he says.

Volunteering and doing for others in the way of providing transportation is another way he gives back to his community.

“I like to be nice to people when I can,” Lewis says.

Spicy Cook-Out Onion Relish is pictured on an Italian sausage sandwich

He has lived in the same house, a house his father built, since his parents brought him from the hospital as a newborn baby. The home contains many collections and things that are near to his heart. His mother’s china cabinet holds his paternal grandmother’s Noritake china set, of which his mother added pieces to build a service for 24. She added a small matching miniature set, as well. A 24-hour clock that has been in the family for many years hangs on a short wall around the corner from the china cabinet.

His late brother’s musical instrument collection, which Lewis helped to build, is displayed in the music room. Two trombones, a flugelhorn, a tiple which is part of the guitar family, a piccolo trumpet and a bugle are exhibited on a shelf above the piano the brothers’ father refinished many years ago. Nearby two violins sit on the mantel near a table that holds a clarinet-like instrument. Several of the homeowners vintage wooden pieces can be found in the room. A small wall cabinet holds a Swarovski crystal musical instrument collection. His cobalt blue glassware collection is contained behind glass in two large cabinets.

“When I see a yard sale, I pull over and I look for blue,” Lewis says with a grin.

The local museum has borrowed his late mother’s Santa collection, which Lewis admits is stored away because he has no room to display.

He has traveled extensively visiting Italy, England, Ireland, Newfoundland, China, Thailand and Belize. He has family in Hawaii who he has visited several times and has seen much of the USA.

Today he shares recipes acquired from family and friends beginning with his mother’s Crock-Pot Chuck Roast, which he refers to as his “No. 1 simplest recipe that any dummy can make.” He adds that the dish does not need to be seasoned or stirred.

“The Eggplant Parmesan with Bacon is a lot of work, but it is worth it,” he states. “When the college put it on the vegetarian menu, the bacon was removed.”

The Spicy Cook-Out Onion Relish compliments many dishes, whether served as a condiment or on the side.

“You can do a lot with it and it’s a great condiment to put on a hot dog or hamburger.”

Crock-Pot Chuck Roast

4-5 lb chuck roast

3-10.5 Oz cans of condensed mushroom soup

3 envelopes French onion soup mix

Put roast in crock pot. Add both canned and dry soup. (Do not add water.) Cook on low setting for about 8 hours or until beef is tender.

Italian-Style Eggplant

1 T coarse salt

2 medium eggplants, peeled, trimmed and thinly sliced

1 c olive oil

5 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

1 T dried oregano

11/2 tsp red pepper flakes

5 bay leaves

3 c white vinegar

Sprinkle salt on the eggplant slices. Drain in colander over a bowl for 1 hour. Meanwhile mix together oil, garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes and bay leaves in a small bowl and set aside. Remove eggplant from colander and pat dry with paper towels. Bring vinegar and 2 cups water to boil in a pot over high heat. Working in batches, add eggplant and blanch for 1 minute, then remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Layer eggplant in a glass bowl and drizzle with oil mixture. Place plastic wrap onto surface of eggplant weighed down with heavy plate. Refrigerate for 24 hours. Remove bay leaves before eating.

Shirley Jarell’s Pretzel Salad

1 c margarine, melted

1/2 c granulated sugar

2 c crushed pretzels

3 T confectioner’s sugar

8 oz cream cheese

2 cans cherry pie filling

Combine granulated sugar, margarine and pretzels. Firmly press mixture into bottom of 9“x13” pan. Whip cream cheese with confectioners’ sugar until well blended. Mix in whipped topping. Spread cream cheese mixture on top of pretzel mixture. Top with pie filling. Refrigerate until well-chilled before serving.

Mrs. McPhee’s Punch

2-24 oz cans frozen lemonade

1 gal apple juice, chilled

4 qts ginger ale, chilled

1 oz almond extract

Without thawing lemonade, add to apple juice and ginger ale in a punch bowl. Add almond extract and mix well.

Chinese Almond Cookies

15 oz granulated sugar

15 oz shortening

4 eggs

1 lb 5 oz bread flour

1/4 oz soda

1/4 oz salt

almond extract, to taste

vanilla flavoring, to taste

2 oz toasted chopped almonds

Beat together sugar and shortening until well blended. Add eggs. When eggs are thoroughly mixed in, slowly add flour, soda and salt while continuing to mix. Add flavorings and toasted almonds. Roll into log no more 11/2″ in diameter. Refrigerate overnight. After log(s) are well chilled, cut into quarter inch rounds. Bake at 350 degrees for about 8 minutes, taking care cookies do not brown.

Father Howard’s Scotch Shortbread

2/3 c fine sugar, divided

1/2 lb butter, room temperature

2 1/4 c flour

1/2 tsp salt

Mix 1/2 cup sugar with butter. Add flour and salt to mixture and continue mixing until well combined. Form into roll approximately 1 1/4” diameter by 15″ long. Chill overnight. Cut into 1/4″ slices and bake at 300 degrees for 25 minutes. Dust finished cookies with remainder of sugar. Cookies get better with age.

Eggplant Parmesan with Bacon

12 egg plants

1/2 lb margarine

1 c onion, chopped

6 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb 10 oz can Italian-style tomatoes

12 dried basil leaves, chopped or crushed

salt and pepper

1 1/2 qts olive oil

1 1/2 c Parmesan cheese

36 slices crisp bacon, crumbled

3 lb mozzarella cheese, sliced

3/4 c dry bread crumbs

Peel eggplants and cut into 1/2 inch thick slices. Soak in salt water for 45 minutes. Dry eggplant slices. In deep skillet, place margarine, onion and garlic. Sautee until translucent. Add chopped tomatoes and basil. Simmer for about a half hour. After simmering, either puree in blender or pass through colander. Add salt and pepper.

Set sauce aside while finishing eggplant. In another skillet, heat some of the oil and fry eggplant on both sides, adding more oil as needed. In 9” x 13″ baking dish, place single layer of eggplant. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and top with crumbled bacon. Place mozzarella over bacon and then spoon sauce evenly over cheese. Add another single layer of eggplant, parmesan, bacon, mozzarella and sauce. Repeat layers ingredients are used. Top casserole with bread crumbs. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Yield-30 servings.

Spicy Cook-Out Onion Relish

3 large onions, diced

olive oil

5 T chicken broth

3 T red wine vinegar

6 oz tomato paste

2 tsp cayenne pepper, crushed

Salt and sugar to taste

In a saute, saute onions in olive oil until translucent. Add chicken broth and red wine vinegar. Thicken with tomato paste to reach desired consistency. Stir in cayenne, salt and sugar. Chill and serve as a condiment.