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May 21, 2009 - Image 63

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2009-05-21

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Local Gent Hits Heights In Denver

Young chef from "the school of hard knocks" opens his own trendy bistro.


ike so many young folks, he,
too, dreamed of a future in the
work he loved best ... But not
akin to so many, his has become a reality
... While working at Camp Tanuga, Ben
Kaplan was in an environment of love,
its kitchen ... At the former E.G. Nick's
in West Bloomfield, after high school
hours, Ben ran the little pizza area off
its main dining room ... and when not
attending summer classes at University of
Wisconsin, he waited on tables at the for-
mer Big Daddy's, also in West Bloomfield.
They were the first part of the dream he
might have held without truly realizing it
while attending Forest Elementary, Warner
Middle School and North Farmington
High and being bar mitzvah at Temple
Israel in West Bloomfield... But Ben never
actually discovered what would eventually
be his true realization until five years ago
when his dream suddenly became a shin-
ing vision.
Today, the 31-year-old son of communi-
ty-ites Barbara and Alan Kaplan is enjoy-
ing a major step in that fervent revelation
... He not only owns his own restaurant,
but is also its executive chef.
"After working in multiple restaurants,
I decided that if I was going to continue
this career path, I wanted to have my own
restaurant:' says Ben ... "I had grown
frustrated with having my creativity mar-
ginalized by owners who did not share my
"The restaurant features all organic,
seasonal, locally grown ingredients. The
philosophy is that great food starts with
great ingredients, so the food could be
classified as 'ingredient driven. The ingre-
dients are the centerpiece of the food. Our
goal is to accentuate them, not disguise

them with heavy sauces or
overly elaborate preparations.
If putting a generic label on it,
Shazz could be called contem-
porary American."
Former Detroiters and pres-
ent Metro Detroit localites vis-
iting Denver make beelines to
the restaurant he opened this
past Nov. 15, Shazz Cafe and
Bar on West 44th Street and
Lowell Blvd. in the northwest
area also known as the "Highlands" ...
Present Detroit area residents like Karen
Gunsberg, John and Nancy Levy, Marise
Levy, Andi Katz, etc. ... and ex-Detroiter
regulars now living in the Denver region,
Adam Kott, Randy Shefman, Kevin Grossi,
Stacy Woodrow- Wasserman, Scott and
Cassie Turbow, Howard Kaye, etc.
The menu reflects much more than the
workings of a dreamer ... Entrees like
Heritage Chicken Roulade, wild monkfish,
seared ahi tuna etc. ... even small plates
of beef tenderloin tartare and ahi tuna
tartare or braised oxtail ... The servings
six days a week are from 5 p.m. (closed
When Ben Kaplan lived here and gradu-
ated Temple Israel religious school, he
may have thought about that someday
restaurant ... But to be sure, he never
could have imagined having dishes like
Muscony Duck Breast or the ingenious
dish combination of rib-eye steak with
wild mushrooms, bread pudding, squash
and mustard greens.
Where did he learn to cook? ... "The
school of hard knocks, as opposed to
culinary school;' says Ben. "I have learned
most of what I know through working
my way up in kitchens since I was 15. My

passion has also driven me
to constantly study and learn
outside of work in my personal
Are Ben's parents proud of
him? ... You betcha!
ANNIVERSARY special of
March and April was so well-
received that the Rugiero fami-
ly's Roman Village Cucina Italia
on Dix, between Miller and
Lonyo, Dearborn, will have a repeat pre-
sentation ... From June 1 thru July 15, the
Rugieros, also owners of the three Antonio's
Cucina Italiano restaurants, will again have
45-cent pizza or pasta when buying another
pizza or pasta dine in or carry out ... Good
only at their Roman Village restaurant
where it all began by this much respected
group of Italian eateries.
"Can you clear up some confusion for us?
How does one actually figure out what is
proper to give for a tip in a restaurant?" ...
Ernest Weissman.
[If you mean the person who serves
you, a usual thinking is 10 percent for
not so great service, okay service 15-20
percent, wonderful, pleasant and helpful,
20+ percent ... All are on check total after
tax ... To give nothing, the server would
have to be atrocious, rude and offensive
... It's important to realize that most serv-
ers make less than minimum wage ...
A server's livelihood in most cases rests
primarily on tips ... Actually, including
an appropriate tip is part of the expense
of eating out and being waited on ... But
every server should know that he or she
does have to work for a tip ... After all,
tips stand for 'to insure prompt service'

and 'gratuity' does express gratitude.]
YES, THAT'S Frank Passalaqua, former
owner of the closed Carl's Chop House,
that you sometimes see helping his son
Vince at Mario's on Second Blvd., Detroit.
Prentice and Dana Hermann at Deli Unique
West Bloomfield, Orchard Lake Road ...
Personable, much waitperson assistance
and very customer pleasing oriented.
WHEN CHUCK DALY, former Detroit
Pistons coach, recently passed on, Rod
Allen, television analyst for Detroit Tigers
games, wondered where he had gotten
his sharp clothes ... Chuck steered the
Pistons to two world championships and
also served as television commercial com-
mentator for Kosins Clothes, with Harry
Kosins at one time making certain that
Daly was among the best-dressed men on
local TV ... His perfect fits and elegant
clothes were tailored and customized by
Dino Mitropoulos, the same Dino the
Tailor of Birmingham who today is tailor-
ing stylist celebrity to the stars and a big
favorite of numerous community-ites as
well as many noted personalities.
THEIR FIGHT against bugs like the
swine flu by Hiller's and other markets
bring many a silent thank-you from cus-
tomers for those disinfectant throwaway
wipes made available before entering to
use on shopping cart handles.
CONGRATS ... To Lynn Kasmer on her
60th birthday ...To Mae Goodman on her
80th birthday ... To Allan Schwartz on his
77th birthday ... To Ronald Shechter on
his birthday ... To Sandy Mazer on her
birthday. 1- Z1

Danny's e-mail address is




11.,1t, N


201 S Old Woodward Avenue • Birmingham MI 48009
248.594.7300 • www.forterestaurant.com


May 21 2009


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