National Flavor

Frewsburg Native Returns, Bringing New Ideas To Chautauqua County

Rick Heald developed this sandwich during a Super Bowl in which the Pittsburgh Steelers played. Photos by Beverly Kehe-Rowland

According to Rick Heald, owner of Hot Coals Wood Fired Pizza and Burger Bar, his establishment is “the best of both worlds,” mixing fine dining with a sports/rock bar atmosphere including 12 TV screens.

“Nobody taught me to cook,” Heald says. “I would help my mother cook holiday dinners and sometimes cook for myself. I had no thought that I would be a cook or chef when I was a dishwasher at Jamestown’s The Grist Mill Restaurant when I was 15. The chef would put me to work prepping. While I was doing dishes, I would watch and be amazed at how they put food out.”

Tom Ferri, owner of The Grist Mill, became General Manager at Chautauqua’s Athenaeum Hotel in 1994. At age 20, Heald was called by Ferri to a job at The Athenaeum, where Chef Bruce Stanton was now working. The new hire had earned a business administration degree and had no thoughts of a professional career in food service, but ended up staying six summers.

“The first year I worked there I worked with some classically trained chefs and decided I would like to do this,” he says.

After relocating to Arizona, Heald found a job at a resort with a chef he could cook under, but after one year moved on to Levy Restaurants, a company that caters private suites, VIP clubs and runs upscale concession stands located in ball parks, sports domes and arenas — feeding team owners and occassionally players. He started at the beginning of the 2001 baseball season as a lead cook at Bank One Ball Park in Phoenix, a year when the World Series took place at that stadium.

Sesame Teriyaki Glazed Wild Salmon with Purple Thai Rice and Stir Fry Vegetables.

Heald traveled all over the United States with Levy Restaurants, opening new arenas and domes, as well as to London, England. He has worked at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky during the Kentucky Derby and was in Jacksonville and Florida during the Super Bowl between Eagles and Patriots, with Paul McCartney performing the halftime show. He worked several all-star games including MLB, NBA and NHL events, as well as NASCAR tracks in Las Vegas, Charlotte, Atlanta and Texas and the PGA Wells Fargo Championship Tour in Charlotte. While in London, he helped with the opening of the O2 Arena. When he left Levy Restaurants after 11 years, he was an executive chef at the Atlanta’s Georgia Dome.

In 2012, Heald returned to Chautauqua County and to Chautauqua Institution to accept a position as Director of Food and Beverage over The Athenaeum, Bellinger Hall and three cafes, a job he kept until a few months ago when he purchased the former Rio Restaurant in Frewsburg.

He and his wife, Heather, have decorated with sports memorabilia interspersed with rock ‘n’ roll, performing arts posters and keepsakes. He has brought a little of each of the major cities in which he has lived to Chautauqua County for a fun and delicious dining experience. Some of the choices found on the menu are not commonly served in this area, such as oven roasted bone marrow served with Himalayan pink salt, chimichuri sauce and garlic butter baguette toast and gator nuggets with hot coals dipping sauce. Familiar items, such as chicken wings, are served as well, including ring of fire, which comes with a flammable warning.

“We do really good burgers with custom ground beef, which is a short rib brisket and chuck blend and (other) high quality ingredients,” Heald says.

Heald has been collecting, cutting and splitting applewood and hardwoods for the 900-degree wood-fired pizza oven.

A closeup of the Steel's Pittsburgh Style Sandwich.

“I’m doing it because I like the technique, an art form that intrigues,” he says. “I’m making it my own and have combined traditional dough recipes.”

Hot Coals has a challenge menu item called Hot Coals Appetite for Destruction 5 lb. Taco Cheeseburger, which consists of “three, half-pound burger patties in a meat lover’s pizza turned into a taco shell.” Onion rings, French fries, smoked bacon, BBQ pork, mozzarella and cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickle, olives and “hot coals sauce” complete it.

“Aside from several specialty burgers and pizza, they can build their own,” Heals adds. “There are healthy, vegetarian and gluten-free menu options also.”

Some of the menu items have fun names, including those which are named after the Heald children, such as Nick’s Taco Pie and Tom’s Route 62-Stateline Burger, named after the son who races at Stateline Speedway.

“I’ve tried to be creative in naming the menu items,” Heald says. “We tried to keep it fun. The All Shook Up Elvis-inspired Dessert Chimichanga is made of peanut butter, banana, honey, brown sugar bacon and sweet cream cheese, because Elvis liked peanut butter, banana and bacon sandwiches.”

“There are fair-like desserts such as Gala Days Fried Dough, deep-fried Snickers bars and ice cream,” Heald continues. “We’ll have some fun milkshakes such as Melts in Your Mouth Loaded Milkshake made of chocolate ice cream, peanut butter, M&Ms, pretzel rods and a dark chocolate covered caramel candy bar topped with whipped cream.”

There is a four-tier liquor display on the wall behind the bar, as well as 12 beer taps. Specialty cocktails and craft beers are sold, too.

Vertical boards stained in various wood tones were installed on the walls above the original lower brick portion. New lighting hangs above the tables. Booths with new upholstery are positioned on barn gray flooring. Patrons can enjoy the outdoor sitting area in warm weather. The kitchen has not been neglected with the addition of new walls and floors and the wood burning pizza oven that heats to nine hundred degrees.

“That’s where the hot coals would be,” says Heald, smiling. “Eventually I would like to add a wood-burning grill.”

The bathrooms have been redone with new fixtures. Most of today’s recipe submissions are not served in the new restaurant, but are ones he grew up with. Linda Lou’s Apple Crisp with Sweet Black Cherries is his mother’s recipe.

“She used to make this all of the time. I added cherries when I had to come up with a dessert for the Atlanta Hawks team. They loved it! As for the Brown Sugar and Salty Soy Snack Mix, my grandfather would always make Chex Mix and bring it for Christmas. After he passed, I started to make it with a twist on the original recipe,” he says. “This is my version of a Pittsburgh Style sandwich. I developed this when the Steelers were in the Super Bowl. The Yucatan Spiced Beef Short Rib makes great tacos and burritos, but the torta (sandwich) is great, too.”

Hot Coals Wood Fired Pizza and Burger Bar is located at 174 Ivory Road, Frewsburg, NY. For a look at the menu go to www.hotcoals.org. Call 569-4351 to order for pick-up. They do not take reservations.

Linda Lou’s Apple Crisp with Sweet Black Cherries

3/4 c oats

3/4 c flour

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp Kosher salt

1 c brown sugar

1/4 c sugar

6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced 1/2 inch thick

1 1/2 c fresh sweet cherries, pitted and halved

1/2 c butter

Pre-Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Fruit Filling: Toss the apple slices in a medium bowl with the granulated sugar and 1/2 tsp of the cinnamon. Mix well and spread out in a 9″ square glass baking pan. Topping: Mix the oats, flour, brown sugar, salt, 1 tsp. of the cinnamon in a medium bowl. Mash in the butter with two forks until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Spread the oat topping over the fruit filling to completely cover it. Bake uncovered until the top is golden brown and the edges are bubbling. About 50 minutes. Allow the crisp to rest at least 30 minutes before serving. The apple cherry crisp is best served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Brown Sugar and Salty Soy Snack Mix

2 c rice cereal squares

2 c corn cereal squares

2 c wheat cereal squares

2 c oat squares cereal with brown sugar

1 can deluxe mixed nuts

1 c butter snap pretzel squares

1 stick unsalted butter

2 T Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

1 T Soy Sauce

1 T brown sugar

1 T BBQ sauce

Preheat Oven to 250 degrees

Heat a large roasting pan over a low heat stove burner. Melt the stick of butter and add all the spices, sugar and sauces. Stir in all of the cereal, nuts and pretzels and mix thoroughly. Bake in the oven for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Cool and store in sealable storage bags or container with a lid.

Steel’s Pittsburgh

Style Sandwich

4 slices thick-sliced, crusty Italian bread

8 slices (about 1/4 lb) thin capicola ham

8 slices thin Genoa Salami

1/2 lb shaved ribeye steak

salt and pepper to taste

3 c vegetable oil

2 eggs

2 russet potatoes, cut into 1/4 inch fries

4 slices Provolone cheese

2 T good quality mayonnaise

1 T Italian dressing

1 c Vinegar Pepper Coleslaw *recipe below

Makes 2 Sandwiches

For the fries, heat a small pan (or deep fryer) with vegetable oil on medium heat (250 degrees for fryer) and blanch the potatoes for about 3 minutes. Drain the oil and cool in the refrigerator until ready to cook for sandwich. Heat the fryer or pan of oil to hot (350degrees).

Heat a small frying pan on the stove burner, on medium to high heat. Sprinkle salt and pepper on the ribeye steak. Add about 1/2 tablespoon of oil to the pan. Add the steak in a single layer in pan. The steak should start to brown fast and can be flipped and stirred around like cooking cheesesteak. Remove the steak when done to your liking. With the pan still on the heat add the capicola ham and salami to warm and crisp slightly. In another small pan fry two eggs over easy. While the meat and eggs are being finished, fry your potatoes until crispy and golden brown. Add a generous amount of salt to the fries while they are still oily.

On one slice of the bread for each sandwich assemble all ingredients with a slice of cheese and mayo first, and then add the meats and another slice of cheese. Drizzle Italian dressing on the sandwich. Add the egg and then the fries and coleslaw. Spread more mayo on top bread and place on the top.

Vinegar Pepper Coleslaw

1/4 c roasted pepper strips, marinated in balsamic vinegar, 2 tsp of salt and a pinch of black pepper

2 c shaved cabbage (may use bagged coleslaw mix)

1/2 c white vinegar

1/4 c salad oil

1 T Granulated sugar

2 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

Whisk vinegar in a mixing bowl with the sugar and salt until dissolved and then add the oil. Toss cabbage, vinegar peppers and black pepper in the liquid mixture and mix well.

Smoked Country Style Pork Ribs

*This recipe is for a charcoal grill or smoker with wood chunks. It can also be done with charcoal or a gas grill with indirect low heat. Over all cook time is about 3-4 hours depending on thickness and weight of the ribs.

10 lb hardwood chunks applewood, hickory or mesquite

In the BBQ grill or smoker, build a fire and allow the wood chunks to cook to hot coals. For slow smoking/grilling utilize one side for the fire and coals and the other side for the ribs. Generously sprinkle the spice mix on the ribs to completely cover each entire rib. Place the ribs on the grill opposite the coals and close the lid. Check the fire and the ribs every 10-15 minutes, depending how hot the fire is. You will need to turn and move the ribs around the cooking side frequently to allow even cooking for all pieces of meat. Ideal temperature is about 225-250 degrees. All cooking units may be slightly different. The ribs should be falling off the bone and very tender when they are almost done. Once they reach the tender stage, baste with glaze, turning and coating both sides 2-3 times.

5 lb country-style pork ribs

Spice rub:

1/2 c Kosher salt

1 T chili powder

1 T cumin

2 tsp cinnamon

1 T garlic powder

1 T onion powder

1 T brown sugar

Generously sprinkle the spice mix on the ribs to completely cover each entire rib.

Basting BBQ Glaze:

1 c apple cider vinegar

2 T ketchup

1 T spicy brown mustard

1/4 c pineapple juice

1/4 c orange juice- fresh squeezed

2 T real maple syrup

1 T soy sauce

Mix all BBQ glaze ingredients in a sauce pan. Heat to almost boiling. Turn to low and simmer for about 45 minutes. While the ribs are cooking remove from heat. Glaze can sit at room temperature and will be used for the last 20 minutes of cooking the ribs.

Yucatan Spiced

Short Rib Torta

2-3 lb beef bone in short rib

1 qt beef broth

1/2 c fresh-squeezed lime juice

1/4 c fresh-squeezed orange juice

12 oz Dark Mexican Beer- Negro Modelo or similar

2 onions, peeled and quartered

2 carrots, peeled and cut in large chunks

2 celery stalks, washed and cut into large chunks

1 garlic bulb, peeled

2 bay leaves

1 T oil

Yucatan Spice blend:

1 tsp ground clove

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp coriander

1 tsp nutmeg

2 tsp Mexican oregano

1 T smoked paprika

1 T Ancho chili powder

1 T Salt

Heat broth, juices, beer, onions, carrots, celery, garlic and bay leaves in a large soup pot

Preheat oven to 300 degrees

Heat a large skillet or a charcoal grill. Sprinkle the spice blend all over the short ribs. Add the oil and then the short ribs. Brown all sides of the short ribs. (A good sear will allow the juices to cook in the meat while braising and add a caramelized and toasted flavor to the beef and spices.) Place the seared short ribs into a large roasting pan. Add the braising liquid from the soup pot. The ribs can be almost fully submerged in the liquid. Cover and place in the oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours until the meat is tender and will shred easily. The cooked meat can be used for the sandwich now or re-heated later. Strain the braising liquid and simmer on the stove for an hour or so on low heat. This makes a great glaze to add to the beef for flavor and moisture. The beef can be shredded or chunked into large pieces.

For Torta (sandwich):

Tolero Rolls, a nice fresh baked Bolo roll or Brioche Bun, toasted or grilled with butter

1 avocado

1 limes, cut in wedges

1/2 c queso fresco, crumbled

2 T salsa verde (can be purchased in Latino food section or specialty markets)

1 tomato, sliced thin

2 tsp sour cream

1 c shredded lettuce

Place the shredded short rib beef on the bottom bun and assemble all other ingredients on top with the salsa on the beef with a squeeze of lime and spread the sour cream on the top bun.

Guaymas Shrimp with Tomato Ginger Sweet and Tangy Sauce

8 jumbo shrimp U/10 peeled and deveined

2 sheets Nori sushi paper

1 Cup Kataifi (Shredded fillo dough)

2 eggs

1 c vegetable oil

1/2 c flour, lightly seasoned with salt and pepper


1 c red wine vinegar

1/2 c tomato puree

1/2 c granulated Sugar

1 T fresh ginger, finely minced

2 tsp. garlic, minced

Heat all of the ingredients except the ginger and garlic. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and add the ginger and garlic. Simmer on low for about 15 minutes.

For the shrimp, whisk the eggs in a small bowl with 1/4 cup water. Place the flour and Kataifi into separate dishes for a breading station. Cut the nori into 2-inch long by 1-inch wide pieces. Wrap one piece of the cut nori around each shrimp the long way so that it covers it almost like a horse shoe shape. Dip the shrimp into the flour mixture to fully coat it, then submerge in the egg wash and then into the kataifi. This should form a nice crust that will stick to the shrimp and become golden brown and crispy.

In either a sauce pan or deep fryer, cook the shrimp for about 4 minutes in hot oil (350 degrees). Remove shrimp. Drain well and pat dry with paper towels. Serve as an appetizer with the tomato-ginger sweet and tangy sauce.

Roasted Beet and Chick Pea Salad

2 c beets, roasted or boiled until fork tender, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch pieces

1 c carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch sized pieces

1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed in strainer

1/2 c fresh peas

2 tsp chopped garlic

1 T extra virgin olive oil

1/2 c lemon juice, fresh squeezed

1 T cilantro, rough chopped

salt & pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together and season to taste. This is a simple, light and refreshing salad or side dish for a warm spring or summer day.

Applewood Smoked Slab Bacon Lardons

This is a great recipe to replace regular chopped bacon for salads, pizza & flatbreads, pasta and endless other delicious meals.

1/2 lb whole slab Applewood smoked bacon (Nueskes is one of my favorites) or a good thick pre-sliced bacon will work, but the dice will be smaller and yield smaller lardons in less time.

Preheat oven to 275 degrees

Diced the slab bacon into 1/2 inch cubes. Place the bacon cubes on a baking sheet pan spread in a single layer and not clumped. Bake slowly in the oven for about 45 minutes to an hour. Check every 12 minutes and turn and mix the lardons with a metal spatula so they cook evenly. The final lardon should have a nice dark brown caramelized look and crispy texture. Drain the bacon fat and reserve for other recipes if desired. Pat dry the with a paper towel if very greasy.

Note: You can season the raw slab bacon or cooked lardons with spices of choice. Pepper, garlic powder and other spices may burn or change the cooking time.

Sesame Teriyaki Glazed Wild Salmon with Purple Thai Rice and Stir Fry Vegetables

2- 7 oz salmon fillets, skin on or skinless*

2 T sesame seeds (black and white blend)

1 tsp chili powder

1 ts. coriander, ground

2 tsp sea salt

1 T peanut oil

2 tsp sesame oil

2 T Teriyaki sauce

Mix all of the spices and sesame seeds together and put them in a medium shallow dish or plate. Place the salmon, flesh side down into the spice mix to stick it on and make a crust when cooking. The sesame spice mixture should completely cover one side of the salmon. *Sprinkle some sea salt on the skin side of the fillet. Both sides can be seasoned if it is skinless. In a large hot skillet add the oils and immediately place the salmon in the pan skin side down. Cook for about 3-4 minutes until the skin is browned and crispy. Turn the salmon over and brown the seasoned, crusted side. Cook about 4 minutes on the crust side. Turn it back over and glaze it with the teriyaki and reduce heat to very low. Add all of the teriyaki to heat it and mix with the flavor of the pan as it runs off the salmon. Serve the salmon over the Thai rice and vegetables. Drizzle remaining sauce in pan over salmon.

1 Cup Purple Thai Rice or Jasmine: Cook per direction and finish with salt, 2 tsp curry powder, 2 T coconut milk and 2 t rice vinegar.

Stir fried vegetables: Cook in a large frying pan or wok with 1 T vegetable oil, 2 tsp sesame oil and add 1 T soy sauce during the last minute of cooking.

1/2 c each of broccoli, chopped

asparagus- cut in 1-inch pieces

peppers, julienned

mushrooms, sliced

onion, thick sliced

zucchini, cut in 2-inch planks.


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