Alan "Knobby" Knobloch and I have been friends for years, since the one day during my second year of teaching at Fulton-Montgomery Community College he arrived in my class. What I remember most is for two years I pronounced his last name incorrectly, calling him Alan "Nob Block," instead of "Ka-no-blow." At graduation when I met his family, I learned the true pronunciation. Knobloch had been too nice a guy to correct his teacher.
He grew up in Fort Plain and began his cooking career on the grill at the Fort Plain Bowling Alley. Being more interested in beverages and bartending, Knobloch followed his brother to Austin, Texas. There he worked at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, which he credits for giving him the "cooking bug." Unable to find a worthwhile job - one that paid over minimum wage for management work - he worked in the security field for a short time before returning home.
Back East, Knobloch worked at Beardsley Castle as the beverage manager. He realized he wanted to go back to school to get ahead. He went to FMCC and completed a degree in food service administration. During his classes, Knobloch said he "never had so much fun in his whole life."
After school, Knobloch worked with Jim Hannas at the Unger House in Caroga Lake for eight years, and assisted Jim Rose at Union Hall with banquets part-time. He said he learned a lot from Hannas. Eventually, Knobloch got a permanent job with the Department of Corrections and has been there 14 years. During this time, he also started cooking part-time at the Moose Club, and also has been there 14 years. At Hales Creek, Knobloch ran shifts serving three meals a day to 300 to 400 clients. Today he is still with the DOC and works at the state food production plant in Utica, which packages food for 61 prisons.
As a student, Knobloch was part of the first Soroptimist Club Celebrity Chef Dinner. This year he will be at the dinner as a chef representing the Moose Club.
Meet chef Mike Staber, the head chef at the Cock and Bull Restaurant in Galway. One might say that Mike is the Cock and Bull. He has been there more than 32 years and even lives next door.
Staber grew up in Amsterdam and attended the State University of New York at Plattsburg and FMCC, pursuing a career in environmental science. For a while, Staber worked at Coleco. When he was laid off, he worked part-time for his uncle, who owned the Cock and Bull.
"I began in 1981 on April Fools' Day," he said.
At that time, the Cock and Bull catered to the leather crowd and was open all week and on holidays. After Staber's uncle left, the restaurant was owned by Ellen Marden and Larry Victo. Today it is owned by Rick Sleeper.
The Cock and Bull is a classic steak house. Staber is responsible for all the ordering, kitchen management and, with assistants, the prep. Sharing the same vision with the owner, Staber explained the menu has original items and new items. He said he enjoys coming up with creative specials.
When asked what he does in his free time, he just laughed and said, "What free time?" He does watch classic cooking shows: Emil Lagosse and Bobby Flay. He admitted to cooking frozen pizza at home, but his own personal favorite is steak au poivre.
You can meet Staber at the Soroptimist Celebrity Chef Dinner tomorrow night at the Holiday Inn. Tickets, if any are left, are available at the chamber.
Another chef I have known for a few years is Brad Saunders. Saunders has been the cook at The Railyard Restaurant for more than 10 years. He joined the hospitality industry at 16, working at the world-famous McDonald's. Saunders attended Mohawk Valley Community College following a career in criminal justice. He worked part-time at the Castle Rock with Bill Theford when he started his culinary exploits.
"I was washing dishes when Bill needed help with a banquet for 120," Saunders said. "I started cooking that night and never stopped. I didn't know I liked it until I did it. Bill was a great teacher."
When Castle Rock closed, Saunders worked at Vandelines. When he was offered a job at Railyard, he jumped at it, as he didn't want to cook just Italian. Today, Brad is a "from scratch" chef.
Josh Rhodes is the chef and owner of the Railyard. Rhodes started out thinking he wanted to teach, but ended up pursuing a degree in hotel and restaurant management from Schenectady County Community College.
"I love being in the kitchen," Rhodes said.
Saunders and Rhodes work together in the kitchen and share the same from-scratch culinary philosophies. They pride themselves on foods of flavor. They both are designing the foods on the new menu, keeping the familiar Railyard favorites and adding some new unique items. Saunders and Rhodes will not be at the Celebrity Chef Dinner (someone has to work), but will contribute two of their unique soups.
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