As I wrote in this column a year ago, Father’s Day is all about tradition at my house, complete with gorgeous steaks, slightly dirty martinis, a fine cigar and, on my 20th Father’s Day as a dad, the 20th viewing of Field of Dreams.
The day to reflect on the old man’s impact on his kids is surely a day of celebration, and two local chefs couldn’t agree more.
To Chef Albert Hall of Acacia Real Food and Cocktails, 3001 E. Skyline Dr., his late father was all about service, and that spirit continues to guide him today.
“My dad was a career military guy, retiring as a Colonel in the Air Force where he served for 30 years, and he spent the rest of his life continuing to serve his country and community,” recalled Hall with noticeable pride.
Hall’s father, Albert Hall, Sr., also shared junior’s interests in cooking, regularly presiding over the grill at the Hall home.
“He really enjoyed cooking, and always seemed to do things his own way.”
One example is what has become fashionable in today’s kitchen, but Hall credits his dad for being the first to show him the trick several decades ago.
“My dad liked to melt butter in a pan and add it to a sizzling steak,” he said. “That was old school, and that was my dad.”
Senior was also a devout “seafood freak” as a resident of Portland and Seattle, and was, as junior remembers, “the only guy I ever knew who could get four pounds of crab meat from a three-pound Dungeness crab!”
On June 15, in addition to offering its regular menu, Acacia will honor fathers with a special dinner menu, including a T-bone steak, “dad-sized” salad, twice-baked and stuffed potatoes and a warm double-fudge brownie with ice cream for $35 per person.
“Don’t be surprised if that T-bone comes with a little touch of sizzling butter,” said Hall. “That’s my personal homage.”
According to Chef Bryan Vernon of Old Pueblo Grille, 60 N. Alvernon Way, his father’s core values about hard work helped propel the Tucson chef to success.
In a career ministry that has taken him from the Baptist church pulpit to the state prison chaplainship, Vernon’s dad, Gordon, preaches about good works, and that message took root early on at the Vernon home.
“My dad is such a good man, almost to a fault,” said Vernon. “There never seems to be enough time to take for himself.”
Vernon points to his mother as the source of culinary wisdom growing up, as his dad’s natural talents were manifest elsewhere in the home.
“Dad and I reached an agreement long ago,” he confirmed. “When he wants a good meal, he calls me. When I need a leaky faucet fixed, I call him.”
Father’s Day at the Vernon home was also built on a bit of tradition. The day began with church service, followed by a neighborhood barbeque which featured items such as ribs, steak and chicken.
“The menu at Old Pueblo Grille has always included ribs, steak and chicken,” said Vernon, “and we’ll be smoking them all on Father’s Day.”
Old Pueblo Grille will offer a special Father’s Day menu in addition to its regular menu, with a salad, smoked ribeye with southwest potato gratin and seasoned vegetables and choice of dessert for $24.95 per person. Dads will also receive a $10 gift certificate with the purchase of an entrée, which can be used for a future visit.
After paying tribute to your own dad, please join me in raising a glass to Albert Hall, Sr. and Gordon Vernon for raising two gifted men who today serve with delicious distinction.
Contact Matt Russell, whose day job is CEO of Russell Public Communications, at email@example.com. Russell is also the host of “On the Menu Live” that airs 4-5 p.m. Saturdays on KNST 790-AM, as well as the host of the Friday Weekend Watch segment on the “Buckmaster Show” on KVOI 1030-AM.