Native Village Youth and Education News
February 1, 2009 Issue 194 Volume 3

Enthusiastic Chef John revels in Wampanoag cooking
By James Kinsella
Condensed by Gina Boltz, Director, Native Village Publications

Massachusetts: Upbeat energy defines Mashpee Wampanoag tribal member, Chef John Marcellino:

It's why his wife, Robin, fell in love with him/
Customers at Roche Brothers supermarket see it during his cooking demonstrations .
Viewers see it on John and Robin's cooking show, Cape Cod Cooking
, aired on Comcast and the Roche Brothers Web site.
It's there when he talks about his life, or cooking, or the Mashpee Wampanoag.
It's pretty much there all the time. Cooking and enthusiasm infuse his life.

"I have been in the restaurant business forever," Chef John said. "I started out washing dishes. I think I was about 13 ... I was making minimum wage, I think it was $2.10 an hour.""

He moved to his mother's in New Orleans where she worked as a waitress. "I loved it," he said. "I started doing cooking."

Chef John went on to do all sorts of restaurant jobs.  Then, in what turned out to be a key move, he began teaching gourmet cooking classes at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va.

At the time, Chef John wanted out of the restaurant business. The hours were long and demanding, and he was tired of working on holidays.   But  his cooking demonstrations at Roche Brothers was noticed by a producer at Channel 10 in Portsmouth, Va. Soon he was doing a cooking show at the station.

After Chef John and Robin married, they began taping cooking shows for "Cape Cod Cooking. "  Robin's healthy cooking balances Chef Johns indulgent approach. "Her food is better for you, my food tastes better," he said. "She's the good cop, I'll be the bad cop."

The show also gives Chef John an opportunity to share Mashpee Wampanoag cooking, which is based foods the tribe long has harvested from the Cape and its waters.  While the Wampanoag were mainly farmers who grew vegetables, "what really says what the Wampanoag people are is the seafood," he said.

Chef John's  Wampanoag meal  would include stuffed quahogs (clam) with a grainy texture like the sand of Mashpee beaches; tenderloin of venison, traditionally cooked somewhat rare so hungry tribal members could get on with the eating; steamed whole fish; and popcorn sweetened with honey.

Conscious of his tribal heritage, Chef John said he does a lot of meals for tribal elders as a contribution to his people.  And after the Wampanoag received federal recognition last years, the tribe hopes to build a casino. If so, Chef John wants to open a restaurant there called Johnny Wampanoag's. His goal is to serve delicious food and expose a wider audience to Wampanoag cooking.

Chef John's Seafood Lasagna


1 lb med  cooked shrimp
8 oz crabmeat
1 lb scallops
2 TB olive oil
12 oz spinach
3-4 cloves of fresh garlic
1 large tub of ricotta
2 eggs
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 med. onion finely chopped & cooked
1 16 oz pkg of shredded mozzarella cheese
1 1/2 jars of Classico Alfredo Sauce
9 sheets of no boil lasagna noodles

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Finely chop the garlic cloves.
Chop up the sea scallops into small pieces. Saute with the garlic in olive oil on medium to low heat until water drains out (about 2 minutes).
Set garlic and scallops aside.
In the same pan, cook the spinach (about 2 minutes).
Drain, put spinach in a bowl and set aside.
Put chopped shrimp and crabmeat in a bowl and put aside.
In a large bowl combine the ricotta, eggs and parmesan cheese.
Pour about 1/4 of the jar of sauce on the bottom on a 13 x 9 deep roasting pan. Spread evenly.
Lay 3 sheets of no bake lasagna noodles on top of sauce.
Spoon half of the cheese mixture on top. Spread evenly.
Layer half of scallops, half of the shrimp and crabmeat, and half of the drained cooked spinach.
Next layer half of the cooked onions, half the remaining sauce and half of your mozzarella.
Repeat this layering...Noodles, cheese mixture, sea foods, spinach, onions but save the last batch of sauce and mozzarella.
Layer another 3 sheets of lasagna noodles on top. Pour the remaining sauced and top with  the shredded mozzarella.
Sprinkle with a little paprika and cover.
Bake for approximately 30-40 minutes until bubbly and hot.
Remove the cover. Let the cheese brown for a minute on low broil.
Let the lasagna stand and cool for at least 10 minutes.
Slice and serve.  
Add salt and pepper to taste.

Recipe:  photos:,

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