NAME: Tony Apichella
Biography: A marvelous cook at Judy's Cafe.
Anthony Apichella, 43; Chef At Judy's Cafe
June 09, 1994|by Jim Nicholson, Daily News Staff Writer
Anthony L. "Tony" Apichella, chef at Judy's Cafe, died Tuesday of natural causes. He was 43 and lived in Center City.
Apichella had worked at the cafe at 3rd and Bainbridge streets since 1977. He started out making salads and learned culinary skills on the job from then chef Richard Gac. He was a fast study and as with most things he did in life, he was very quickly a success. He had an undergraduate and a master's degree from Millersville University where he also helped start the ice hockey program. At Chichester High School, he made All-Delaware County as a center on the football team coached by his father, Anthony, Sr., who died in 1977 of a heart attack.
He taught public school for a few years in Ridley Park and parochial schools in Philadelphia. But getting laid off a couple of times made him decide to try another field. Eileen Plato, owner of Judy's Cafe, said Apichella had a natural love of food and had the keenest taste buds of any chef she ever saw. "As chefs go," she said, "he was even-tempered, he could handle stress."
She also held him in high regard as a person. "He was able to connect," she said. "He had particular ways with such a variety of people. He was one of those guys who kept up contacts with old friends and he had lots of new friends . . . He wasn't just a cook; he was a renaissance man with interests beyond the arcane. "He loved science fiction, he loved opera. He was passionate about things." He loved animals and owned four cats.
Apichella also was an accomplished pianist, he could sing, and seemed, according to Kirk Zimmerman, a friend, "to know something about everything. He was a great teacher. He taught me about the opera." He also passed on his skills in the kitchen to those who wanted to learn, such as Jennifer Borzelleca, who worked with him. "He was the best," she said. "He taught me everything I knew."
She said he taught her how to make special mashed potatoes which are now among Judy's most popular side dishes. Mike Waddell, a waiter, said, "He taught me so many things, basic things. He took me to my first opera. It was Tosca. And now I love opera."
He said if anyone did the slightest favor for Apichella, the response would be a written thank-you note. He was a man with a fine sense of social grace. But when it came to the job, added Waddell, "If you messed up, you knew it. He had a laser stare."
Barbara Jo Apichella, his sister, said that after their father died, her brother began coming over to Mom's Boothwyn home a couple of times a week to help with the home and business affairs. His green thumb had the place looking like a botanical garden, she said. Though Barbara and Tony fought as kids, as adults they became close.
"He was like my father; he could relate to and get along with different kinds of people in all walks of life and backgrounds. He was a very tolerant person, and generous," she said. "My brother was very good, and considerate of everyone and put other people first. He was selfless."
He also is survived by his mother, Rose Apichella. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. tomorrow at Old St. Joseph's Church, 321 Willings Alley, where friends may call one hour before the service. Burial will be private. A spokesman for the Piselli Funeral Chapels said contributions may be made to the charity of the donor's choice.
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Date of Death: 6/7/1994
Age at Death: 43
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