Bert Spitz owns a garment hanger company in New York City. He blogs about food at He lives in East Norwich with his wife, Sandy.

How long have you been cooking?

It all started in 1955. When I lived in L.A. my parents would take us to the Piccadilly Restaurant where the captain used to let me prepare the Caesar salad tableside. That’s where my interest began. As I grew up, I worked in Italian restaurants where I picked up a lot of information and technique. I’m not a chef by training, but I love restaurant kitchens. One evening I went with my wife and a few people to a well-known restaurant in Glen Head called Pappagallo, owned by Mario Ghini. All of the good Italian restaurants in Nassau County in the ’70s and ’80s had chefs who were trained there. That night, Mario said, “Bert do you want to come in and cook dinner for your table?” He let me come into the kitchen and showed me how it was done. That was in the mid ’80s.

Tell us about your food blog?

I started blogging in 2010. I had tried out for Gordon Ramsay’s show “Master Chef” with my flank steak ragu recipe and made it through the first round. So I decided to share my recipes and my experiences with food on the blog.

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Do you ever cook professionally?

It’s not so much a professional thing as a hobby. Ninety percent of my life is in the garment center. Cooking is on the weekend. If somebody likes my cooking, I’ll go to their house and make dinner. It satisfies my urge to work in a restaurant kitchen, without any of the trouble.

What are Sam’s Clams and where do you buy them?

When I was down in Florida in a fish market, I saw this bucket of Sam’s Clams and I read the whole label inside and out and it looked wonderful. I put it in a cooler, because I always travel with a cooler, and drove home. Then I made my clam sauce. From then on I’ve been getting them at Whole Foods. According to the package, Sam’s is a sustainable fishery. They don’t add salt, preservatives or chemicals. Using these clams produces a more tender, fresher and sweeter clam in the sauce than the steam and chop process and the results are brilliant. This also eliminates the need for bottled clam juice seen in other recipes.

What are the differences between pressed, chopped, and sliced garlic?

If I’m making this for my wife, I slice it thick so it is visible and can be picked out. If I’m making it for people who really love the pronounced flavor of garlic, then I’ll slice it thinner, chop it fine, or press it. If you want to maximize your garlic flavor, use a press.