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Chef behind favourite Hamilton greasy spoon uses COVID lockdown to share his secrets

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Chef behind favourite Hamilton greasy spoon uses COVID lockdown to share his secrets

Did you know that there’s an art to cooking the perfect over-easy egg? Well, there is and thanks to Hamilton’s Jaced Kaleci, now we know.

Kaleci is the force behind Sammy’s Family Restaurant in Ancaster and, like all eateries across our city and beyond, they did not come out of COVID-19 lockdown unscathed but they’ve managed better than some, and that’s in large part due to Kaleci’s innovation.

“This community has always been super supportive of us,” Kaleci told InTheHammer. “We’re all family here.”

During the shutdown, the Kaleci family — who has owned and operated Sammy’s for 13 years now — opted not to offer take out or delivery after closing their doors on March 17th. Jaced says they made the call because it didn’t fit right with their style of service and they didn’t want to disappoint any customers.

So, with all this time on his hands, Kaleci, who has worked in his family’s restaurant since he was a kid, said he decided to throw his energy into connecting with customers and perhaps engaging new ones by increasing Sammy’s virtually non-existent social media presence.

“It was a kind of way to reach out to customers and let them know we’re here and we’ll be back,” Kaleci said.

“It was also a way to share what I do in the kitchen with people and help them since they couldn’t come to the restaurant, make a better breakfast.”

Kaleci set out to teach himself all he could about digital content creation and making videos for social media. He said he spent “hundreds of hours” researching and watching how-to videos on things like lighting and editing.

Then he and his girlfriend set out to film a couple of short videos to share on YouTube.

“The first one took a really long time to put together,” he said. “But we got better as we went along.”

The first video they produced was ‘Mastering Over Easy Eggs,’ which was filmed in Kaleci’s mother’s kitchen in her Ancaster home.

As the title suggests, the video offers practical advice for achieving a perfect over-easy egg, including tips for learning how to flip them properly (it’s not for the faint at heart, but Kaleci shows how people can practice the technique without wasting eggs).

There are several other videos that provide viewers with step-by-step instructions on how to properly poach an egg, make Hollandaise sauce and how to make those legendary Sammy’s home fries.

The videos are perfectly charming and funny and Kaleci’s love for the art of cooking good food is on full display.

“I love cooking and the science of it,” he told InTheHammer. “I wanted all my customers to see how I do things in the kitchen.”

He also wanted to show people how fun and fascinating it can be to work in a kitchen and to know that the love and energy that goes into food plays a big role in the finished product.

“It all makes a difference,” Kaleci said. The bacon he serves at Sammy’s, for example, takes him more than a day to prepare for customers.

Kaleci takes pride in the fact that he purchases “the best” bacon possible and he cooks the bacon three times, with an overnight rest in the fridge, to make it perfect.

“It’s a process and it really matters in how the finished product turns out,” he said. “People always tell us it’s the best bacon they’ve ever tasted.”

Since he started making the videos and upping Sammy’s engagement on social media, Kaleci said they’ve gained hundreds of new followers and it’s continuing to grow.

“I hope to hit 1,000 followers by December,” he said.

Sammy’s even earned a rave Instagram review last week from Hamilton food authorities Steeltown Chowdown, who wrote that Sammy’s is “one of the best greasy spoons in #hamont, operating for years in Ancaster as a beacon of homestyle goodness.”

In the meantime, Kaleci is happy to be back in the swing of things at Sammy’s, which reopened this summer when the city went to stage 3.

Kaleci says he continues to be humbled by the support of his community who have turned out in the ensuing months to support his family this special corner of Ancaster they’ve created.

“I know some of my customers have lost their jobs in all this and they’re still coming here to support our business,” he said. “It’s amazing.”

Check out more of Jaced’s videos on YouTube and for more information on Sammy’s Family Restaurant, visit their website or follow them on Instagram.

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