When Chris Caves was a boy, he and his mother called sandwiches Stakks. Now Caves is the CEO of a corporation that owns Stakk’s Smokehouse and Barbecue in Temecula. Caves created some of the sandwiches served in the restaurant when he was a child.
“Some of them are huge,” said Stakk’s Executive Chef Angelo Capozi.
However, sandwiches are not the only food served at Stakk’s. In addition, even though the name implies it, Stakk’s is not just a smokehouse or barbecue restaurant either.
Capozi is a master chef with his roots and passion in smoked foods, but he also excels in prime steaks, Italian cuisine and gourmet, all of which are served at Stakk’s. In fact, Capozi will create all the recipes the Stakk’s franchises will serve.
“Stakk’s will be a household name in a couple of years,” he said. “Nothing comes from a box. Every ingredient is fresh.”
The most popular items on the menu include pulled-pork and smoked chili, for which Capozi has won national awards. He said he is the only chef in America who makes smoked veggie burgers. Since his wife is a vegetarian, he makes several recipes to please her and other vegetarians who come to Stakk’s.
Another award-winning dish served at Stakk’s is Capozi’s Pink Cadillac Lasagna.
Capozi said Stakk’s has many loyal customers already, even though it only opened in February. He believes customer service is of the uppermost importance and instructs his staff to respect all customers and ensure customer requests are addressed.
“I’m learning about Temecula,” he said. “I am learning what to expect in Temecula.”
Capozi grew up in New York, attended the University of South Dakota and earned a degree in culinary arts and restaurant management.
He is so accomplished that he won the Food Network’s “Iron Chef America” two years ago. Unfortunately, the show never aired. So, Capozi was asked to compete again on a program scheduled to air in September.
“I will be challenging the Italian chef, Mario Batali,” he said.
Iron Chef Mario and challenger Capozi must create a three-course meal based on a surprise themed ingredient. (On the un-aired episode on which Capozi competed first, the theme was pickles.) They have one hour to cook, then a guest panel judges the menus to determine who is triumphant and who is defeated.
“I challenge anyone in Temecula to make a better smoked hamburger than me. We can get a little Iron Chef thing going on in Temecula,” Capozi said.
While still in high school, and 17 years old, Capozi got a job as a dishwasher at a Happy Chef restaurant, a chain primarily in the Midwest. He became the youngest executive chef ever of the Happy Chef franchise and has been in the business throughout his life.
Stakk’s is located at 41493 Margarita Road in Temecula and is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Call Stakk’s at (951) 296-2223 for more information.