There's good news and bad news to report on the fact that Andrew Zimmern's television show, Bizarre Foods on the Travel Channel has discovered Utica Greens Morelle, a dish created by local chef Joe Morelle back in the early 1908's.

Let's start with the good news.

On Sunday, Zimmern was in town and enjoying Utica favorites Greens Morelle, Chicken Riggies and Tomato Pie at East Utica's Chesterfield Restaurant.  Sal Borruso, the owner of Chesterfields was there along with one of their original chefs and the creator of Utica Greens, Joe Morelle. The night was a celebration of Utica style Italian food, according to Morelle, who said he totally enjoyed the night.

"This was really about my kids," Joe said.  "the history of this dish means so much to them."  Back in the 1970's, Morelle and all the great Utica Italian chefs worked at Grimaldi's Restaurant, a Utica staple that opened in 1943.  

The history of this dish means so much to them...

That's where many of Utica's famous dishes were created.  However, Greens Morelle didn't come to fruition until the 1980's, when Morelle was a chef at the Chesterfield. He started making a dish that included escarole, pecorino-romano cheese, hot cherry peppers and prosciutto. It was called Greens and was later named Greens Morelle.  Before he knew it, the dish was a hit and it was officially add to the Chesterfield menu.  Today, it's a famous Utica dish that's on the menu of hundreds of local restaurants and everybody has their own version.  But Chesterfield still makes the original.  Last year, the New York Times did a story on Greens, the Chesterfield and Joe Morelle and since then, the publicity has been pouring in.

Now for the bad news.

Greens creator Joe Morelle was recently diagnosed with stage four lung cancer.  A benefit for Joe and his family has been scheduled for June. Morelle told WIBX's Bill Keeler that he's going to beat the disease. He's being treated in Syracuse and has all the confidence in his doctors.

"I think the world of Joe and I know he has the fight in him to beat this," said Bill Keeler.  "Joe is not the type of guy who is comfortable with accepting any type of donation from people. However, if I had a dollar for every time Joe made a tray of greens for a benefit that asked for help, I'd be a pretty rich person. Joe has always been there for everybody else's cause; now it's time for us to be there for him. Joe is a fighter and he's going to beat this. The fact is, he has many more dishes to create and I'm confident he'll be doing just that."

Zimmern's episode on Utica is expected to air sometime in the fall; however, no date has been set.  The program is expected to include Utica Greens Morelle, Chicken Riggies and Utica Tomato Pie.


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