Enthusiastic Chef John
revels in Wampanoag cooking
By James Kinsella
Condensed by Gina Boltz, Director, Native Village Publications
energy defines Mashpee Wampanoag tribal member, Chef John Marcellino:
It's why his wife, Robin, fell in love with
Customers at Roche Brothers supermarket see it during his cooking
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
It's pretty much there all the time. Cooking and enthusiasm infuse
"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.""
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
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."
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
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
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
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
Set garlic and
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.
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
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.
and pepper to taste.