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A Taste of Worcester History *** Postponed ***

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June 27, 2020 at 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm



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Because of concerns of the COVID-19, and out of an abundance of caution, this event has been further postponed until we receive guidance from the state. The event will happen in 2020, and all ticket holders will be admitted with the originally issued tickets. Once we have the finalized date, we will announce it here!

A Taste of Worcester History is created to pay homage to Worcester’s past restaurants and chefs through an interactive festival-style tasting with today’s chefs interpreting dishes of Worcester’s cultures hosted at the Worcester Historical Museum. Six chefs, known for their extraordinary culinary skills, will be highlighting a dish based on Worcester’s cultural heritage. Chef Tim Russo of Lock 50/Russo will focus on Syrian; Mark Hawley of Worcester Restaurant Group on Italian; Robert Fecteau, executive chef, baker and co-owner of BirchTree Bread Company will present Polish; Director of Operations Chef Bill Nemeroff of BT’s Smokehouse on Jewish; Executive Chef Chris Smigel of MGM Springfield preparing American; and Chef Jared Forman of deadhorse hill will prepare a dish inspired by the French immigrants. Each food tasted will be paired with a tasting of wine.

The tasting will conclude with a special award presentation of the first Mass Food & Wine Lifetime Achievement Award. The award, created to recognize a prominent figure or restaurant in the Commonwealth’s food history, will be presented to Naphie Samara on behalf of Worcester’s most iconic restaurant, the El Morocco. Naphie is one of the Aboody’s nine children and an integral part of the restaurant’s growth from its opening in 1943, its expansion in 1977, through its sale in the early 1990s. As the last surviving member of the Aboody family, it’s with great honor to be able to recognize the El Morocco, for being such an important part of Worcester’s cultural, and culinary, history, through her lifetime of work.

A portion of ticket sales will directly benefit the Worcester Historical Museum.

Please note that this is not a seated dinner with timed courses, but instead a walk-about event for each chef and pairing. Tickets will not be sold at the door.

Fine Print: Last call 30-minutes prior to end of the event. No re-admission. Must bring printed or digital ticket for entry. Tickets are non-transferable and not refundable. 21+ event, with valid ID required for admission.

Meet the Chefs

Executive Chef Tim Russo was born and raised in Worcester, MA and received his Associates of Science in Culinary Arts from Johnson and Wales University. His work experience includes a variety of restaurants in the Worcester area, as well as Providence, RI and Nantucket Island. As a Chef, Tim introduces his customers to exciting ingredients and unique cooking techniques discovered throughout his career. Through this exposure, he has elevated the expectation for quality dining in the Worcester area. Tim feels his biggest accomplishment and proudest moment was when he competed in the Worcester’s Best Chef Competition where he won 1st place Judge’s Choice, 2nd place People’s Choice, and was named Worcester’s overall Best Chef 2015!
Jared Forman from deadhorse hill on Main Street in Worcester, MA (Photograph by Alex Belisle)

Born and raised in Brooklyn as a diehard Mets fan, Jared’s earliest memories of food was the diversity the city had to offer. From Sunday red sauce Italian dinners at home with the family, to Chinese, Thai, and Indian in Queens, to french and upscale restaurants in Manhattan, he couldn’t get enough of how varied the flavors and experiences were there.

An industry veteran within the local restaurant scene, Mark has worked in area kitchens for more the 25 years, including stints at Willy’s Steak House, Bread and Pasta, and Zipango (now called Kenichi). Prior to joining Worcester Restaurant Group, Mark was Executive Chef at the Flying Rhino on Shrewsbury Street, where he distinguished himself by delivering a varied and imaginative menu. In 2004, Mark joined the team at One Eleven Chop House as Head Line Chef. During that time, Mark learned the importance of working on a team dedicated to delivering the highest quality under the stresses of a busy kitchen. He was subsequently promoted to Executive Chef at VIA Italian Table where his team earned top Italian restaurant honors each and every year. Today, Mark serves as Corporate Executive Chef of Worcester Restaurant Group, where he is responsible for all aspects of culinary operations for The Sole Proprietor, One Eleven Chop House, and VIA Italian Table. Mark is a hands-on leader who excels at creating a team mentality among staff members.

Rob Fecteau began his culinary pursuits as an apprentice at the Castle Restaurant in Leicester. Working in fine dining in and around Boston, Rob honed his skills as a chef, developed his own personal cooking style, and developed the management and leadership skills necessary to run a kitchen. Moving back to the Worcester area as Head Chef of the Whistling Swan and Ugly Duckling Loft, Rob began a series of wine and beer dinners that still have a cult following today. When his interest turned to artisan bread, he began making small batches of sour dough for these special dinners and became intrigued with the natural leaven process. Rob’s passion brought him to San Francisco, California where he staged at several renowned bakeries including Tartine, The Mill, Miller’s Bakehouse, Della Fattoria, and Nightingale Breads. Upon returning to Central Massachusetts, Rob honed his newly acquired skills at Five Loaves Bakery in Spencer, Massachusetts where farmers markets became his test bed as he perfected his craft. Rob was now ready to bring all the experience he had acquired over the years to a business that would truly reflect the principles he and his wife, Avra Hoffman were eager to share with the public. BirchTree Bread Company was founded in 2014 and has rapidly become a cornerstone of the renaissance of Worcester, Massachusetts’s Canal District. Rob, Avra, and their growing team of dedicated employees recently celebrated their fifth anniversary and are excited to see their business continue to grow and evolve within the community that has welcomed and celebrated the vision of BirchTree Bread Company.

As a chef, William Nemeroff sees it as his job to not only provide honest crowd favorites and reinvented comfort food, but also to inspire and educate the guests that come to BT’s Smokehouse. After attending Johnson and Wales University in Charleston, South Carolina, Chef Nemeroff worked for several restaurants and country clubs up and down the east coast. He then settled in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, where he opened acclaimed Cedar Street Restaurant. After several wonderful years, he decided to root in a more metropolis area to bring his talents to a broader audience. After a 6 years as the co-executive chef of Niche Hospitality, the four diamond Beechwood Hotel, and The International Chef, Nemeroff embarks on a new mission: to join forces with culinary powerhouse Brian Trietman of BT’s Smokehouse where he will make a mark and bring his southern roots to the BBQ world.

Executive Chef Chris Smigel of MGM Springfield

With more than 15 years of industry experience, Christopher Smigel brings extensive knowledge of food and beverage operations with a fine-dining edge as executive chef at MGM Springfield. In this role, Smigel provides executive leadership and direction to the property’s culinary team overseeing operations, development and presentation for the resort’s diverse culinary portfolio servicing all restaurants and lounges – including Chandler Steakhouse, the resort’s classic American steakhouse; Costa, an authentic Italian restaurant; TAP Sports Bar, a high-energy bar and restaurant; and South End Market, a casual market concept home to six unique culinary venues. Furthermore, Smigel oversees in-room dining, convention and banquets operations.

A Westfield, Massachusetts native who got his culinary training at Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island, Smigel formerly served as chef at Hyatt Hotels for 10 years with stops Austin, New Orleans and Cambridge.

Among Smigel’s greatest accomplishments has been building the talented and diverse team of culinary professionals at MGM Springfield to seamlessly carryout the resort’s large-scale operations while maintaining a standard of excellence and delivering unparalleled service to its guests.

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June 27, 2020
12:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Event Category:


Worcester Historical Museum
30 Elm Street
Worcester, MA 01609 United States
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