Gloucester’s Mayor, Sefatia Romeo Theken, has been cooking her heart out for weeks, practicing to battle Chef Anthony Caturano, owner of Tonno locations in Gloucester and Wakefield, as well as the storied Prezza in the North End.
The stakes are high – ever since Caturano brought “Gravy Sunday” to Tonno Gloucester, featuring homey Italian American favorites like chicken parm and tagliatelle with meatballs, it’s been game on, the mayor says.
“Never gravy, not in my Sicilian town,” Theken declares. It’s semantics to some, but in Italian-American communities, the debate is fierce. Some families grew up calling sauce for pasta gravy, and some grew up calling it sauce, or sugo.
Chef Caturano and the mayor have found themselves on opposite sides of the debate – and have turned it into a good-natured way to raise money families dealing with cancer. For the third year, Caturano is hosting Crush Cancer, a sugo versus gravy lunchtime show down that finds the chef and the mayor in a cook off, with proceeds benefitting the Oncology Unit at Addison Gilbert in Gloucester and the Gloucester Fund, which helps identify families that need support while going through cancer treatment. The first year, the pair raised $10,000 and last year they doubled it.
This year, Caturano is certain that they can get to $30,000, between a silent auction and a GoFundMe campaign he set up. And if they do, the mayor has promised to stand outside, holding a sign that says “I love gravy.”
Theken does not want that to happen – and she’s counting on the community to help them raise $40,000 – at which point Caturano has agreed she can escape public humiliation.
Tickets to the luncheon, December 5 from noon to 2 p.m. at Tonno Gloucester, are selling fast. But partisans can also join the fun by contributing to the event’s GoFundMe page or dropping by the restaurant to participate in the silent auction, which will offer everything from bottles of wine and gift cards to fine art.
To contribute to the fundraiser, visit https://www.gofundme.com/ega68a-crush-cancer.
For details on the luncheon, visit https://www.facebook.com/tonnorestaurant/photos/a.705289526272981/1364612187007375/?type=3&theater.