• In Memory of Chef Ed Musto

    September 19, 2018 | News
  • This is dedicated to the life of Chef Ed Musto and his young children Wyatt and Marshall. 

    To Wyatt and Marshall, someday, you will get older and realize what has happened this past week.  As a second home and second family to Chef Ed, the Frato's family decided we wanted to post our collective eulogy for your Father online.  We want to honor your father and give you something to read again and again as you grow older. Wyatt and Marshall, you may not remember, but your Superhero Dad always took off work to take you both to every kid's Marvel Superhero Movie that came out in the Theaters. He talked about you both every single day about how happy you both made him.  We want this eulogy posted in a way that when you grow of age, you can read this and know your Father through my eyes and the eyes of the Frato's team that he trained and helped build.  As long as I am in charge of Frato's, Wyatt and Marshall, you will always have a second home here.  Your Father helped build this place.

    Chef Ed Musto passed away on Sunday (9-9-18) at the young age of 35 from a heart attack in his sleep. He joins his sister Victoria and his Mother whom all passed away too young from heart complications. I never had the pleasure of meeting his Mother, but if she's anything like Victoria, she's the type of person you can meet and feel like you're good friends after only a few minutes. I have no doubt that Wyatt and Marshall will grow to make all of them proud.

    If Chef Ed impacted you in any way, we hope you donate even as little as $1 to his families/kids GoFundMe page here. It doesn't matter what you are able to donate, every little bit will help the family in their time of need.



  • In Honor of Chef Ed Musto

    The simplest way to explain our friendship, business relationship and how different we are is in the following way. Chef Ed loved Fall season the most.  He loved the beauty of the leaves falling and changing color as well as the comforting breeze.  This conversation seems to always happen around the third weekend of NFL Football, which is in a few days.  This is the first year I won't hear him make that comment to me as he's looking outside our large window panes at the falling leaves. 


    Every year, he states how much he loves this season to which I always reply, "You're Crazy!" (the PG version).  I despised Fall the most because I knew what was coming soon: winter, snow, ice, below zero days, slow traffic and too many layers of clothing. 

    Chef lived for today, I planned for tomorrow.  In January when he is complaining and crying about the winter snow, I am getting excited because I know Spring weather is coming soon.  That identifies a major difference in us and how our business relationship and friendship worked. We helped balance each other out.

     

  • Frato's in the Beginning

    In 2011, I met Chef Ed Musto.  I interviewed 50 potential Chefs before purchasing Frato's.  Once I was into the 40's, I couldn't believe I only had one possible candidate and I wasn't completely thrilled with my options.  With #48 or #49, I spoke with Ed and I was immediately sold, but I continued the process and tried to remain skeptical.

    Any question I asked Ed, he could give you the correct answer, but turn it into a conversation proving he knew what he was talking about.  For everyone else, they didn't have the right education for the position or they provided a scripted response that you could not tell if they actually understood it.  Ed was immediately different than the rest and without even testing his food, I knew he was the guy for the job.  It just so happens his best talent was his food creativity.

    Fast forward to 2013, Chicago Bears Football season (like Fall) was his favorite time of year and we were already doing different weekly burgers with random themes.  My Uncle suggested to Chef and I that it would be cool to modify weekly themed burgers into weekly Chicago Bears burgers. a We took it a step further by making it based on the Chicago Bear's opponents food history/culture.  It made sense to focus Chef's creativity on building a weekly Chicago Bears burger.  It was this which helped Frato's truly change from the old into the new.  In the Fall of 2013, Marcus Leshock heard about it and featured us on WGN News. 

    Shortly after that, Chicago's Best came calling and the new Frato's was finally taking hold.

    Our desire was for a Wrigley Field style restaurant since the building we inherited when taking over Frato's is an older strip center.  However, we knew without a major attraction/draw in the area (we are too far from Woodfield Mall where the main traffic is), that we'd need to be unique to draw customers to us.  Our goal was to convert the old Frato's Eatery into a casual neighborhood kitchen that included as many homemade culinary items as possible.  We wanted to achieve this while offering the same classics that Frato's had become popular for.  We've seen how a lot of restaurants operate in our careers and it was disappointing how many pass off pre-packaged food items as homemade upscale dishes. You'd likely share our disappointment if you knew how many restaurants operate this way.  In most cases, the only difference is that they add a special seasoning to call it their own. Chef considered this disingenuous and it was against his code.  Chef Ed wasn't a demanding type of guy, but he did make one demand that I wholeheartedly agreed with from the start. If we are to work together, we can't go the pre-packaged food route trying to claim it's homemade. “I refuse to lie to customers telling them my food is homemade when it's the same stuff others are selling.” That ended up being a big obstacle as while we are actually doing a great deal of homemade items, many other restaurants are claiming the same thing. Not all customers give Frato's and our team the credit deserved because so many restaurants are taking credit for something that they are not doing. It's tough work on an operational level to prepare your own food every morning, cook it perfectly, and serve it fast. Any criticism was very upsetting to Chef, but we pushed through just fine and solidified that Frato's is a quality name.  At the time of writing this, we have nearly 12,000 Frato's Facebook Family Members and over 4,000 Instagram Family Members that love our food and support us. (Thank you all from the bottom of all the hearts of the Frato's Family).

     

  • A True Chef wants to make you Happy through their Food

    I admire people who want to cook for a living on a public level. You are not a Hollywood Celebrity making millions, but at some point, you will be attacked online as if you are. Only a tough person can deal with that.


    Chef was blunt and like many other Chefs, was as non-PC as you could imagine.  He knew when he needed to be professional.  However,  he definitely let loose when he didn't have to be professional.  Chef Ed was a master at pushing peoples buttons, playing practical jokes (like the old cup over the door trick or tricking someone into eating his very hot wing sauce convincing them it was a new mild sauce).  Ultimately, he could make people smile.  Due to his non-PC ways, we can't even publicly state his funniest phrases or best known quotes/teaching moments.  It was never his desire to offend, but he would get himself in trouble sometimes.  He was never ill-intentioned, but if you judged him solely by some of the hilarious things he said (or terrible jokes that he thought were funny), you might have the wrong impression of him.  For that reason alone, those will stay in our memory and allow us to smile in private. 

     

  • Many don't stop to think that a true Chef is a person who has chosen a pathway of using food to make others happy. If you are not happy, relaying that unhappiness directly to a Chef would ensure he or she would do everything possible to make you happy. A legitimate Chef wants to make as many people happy as possible and the chosen method to do so is food. Chef Ed only wanted to make people smile and he loved knowing when people were having fun, but he took criticism of himself or his team very personally. This is particularly painful to him because it was almost always behind his back with online social media. It didn't matter that the overwhelming majority of people loved him and Frato's itself.  Instead, he focused his attention on the few that gave anonymous exaggerated criticisms which put him in a sad mood.  It always bothered him when he received any negative feedback online instead of directly, giving him a chance to make them happy. He always asked me, “if we sincerely didn't do it right, then why did they chose to attack online instead of just telling us so we could have fixed it?” I didn't have an answer at that time and I still don't as like the overwhelming majority of people, I don't even post reviews myself. Online data from a few years ago suggests that only 1% of people that read reviews will actually review others themselves. 99% of people just return to your business as their review/vote of confidence. We have hundreds and hundreds of orders every single week, but over the years, we only have hundreds of reviews online. That was good enough answer for me, but for Chef, it still bothered him that someone was so unhappy that they had malicious intent in doing harm with their review.  Few industries/employees have direct exposure to anonymous people eager to criticize your work performance online.  If everyone saw what we saw, nobody would believe reviews or waste time writing them anymore.  

    I would tell him that I can't even think of a legitimate 1-star experience I've ever received in my lifetime.  Yet, some people online are eager to post half of their total reviews as a negative overly critical experience.  It didn't make sense to me. I told him to look into it and see if there is any validity to it after you remove the exaggerated claims.   Then, see if we can improve our processes.  After that, forget about it and move on. With the hundreds and hundreds of orders we handle, we don't have time for the few "loud and anonymous" people that didn't have the common decency or respect to contact a manager through the phone, email, or in person.  If they did, Chef or his team would be excited to show them one of the best parts of Frato's, our customer service and that we truly care about making you happy. Chef didn't have thick skin like that though, he just wanted to make people happy and no matter what, it still bothered him when he didn't even have the chance to do so.

    It's possible that Chef's last act of kindness was Saturday night (9-8-18). He texted to inform me that a great friend and customer of ours didn't seem as upbeat as he usually is when he came in for his normal pick-up order. Chef texted me because we treat our customers like family and he knew I cared to know as well. Chef asked him what was wrong and without going into elaborate detail, they had a great chat which ended positively. That is who Chef was and how he wanted to be seen by others. That is how he will be defined in the eyes of the people that knew him. Just look at our Facebook page this past week, filled with similar comments. Wyatt and Marshall, your Father was loved by so many customers for his passion and simple acts of kindness that I hope you grow up to be the same way.

     

  • Chef's Legacy: Frato's Culinary Apprenticeship

    Chef's desire to help others didn't end there. We developed our Culinary & Business Apprenticeship Program to help train students since nobody seems to train anymore. It's very expensive to train and almost zero restaurants are willing to cover the cost of training. Culinary school can only teach you so much. Chef loved seeing Wyatt learn to cook and that passion transferred over to Frato's.  We developed a program to give talented and passionate culinary students a pathway to become a future restaurant owner or Chef themselves.


    The program is mostly designed for college culinary students, but we focused on creating a fun pizza competition as an introduction to the program for local high school students. Chef loved going to these competitions to give constructive feedback and see the passion of young culinary students eager to make food that makes others happy....just like Chef himself. He loved this program so much because he saw himself (desire to make others happy by the method of food) in all of his students.

    Frato's, the restaurant itself, would serve as our training ground for young culinary students to develop cooking and leadership skills.  At that time,  they could graduate to Frato's Catering where they receive the advanced training needed to grow in this industry. Frato's Catering allows them to learn directly from Chef Ed and myself on how to handle important events as a Personal Chef themselves.  That is a title which was earned.  It means they are developing the tools and confidence to handle higher level tasks in this industry.

    To see the development of his students made him proud. He believed in tough love and didn't always praise everyone to their face out of fear it would harm their desire to keep learning.  That said, behind the scenes, he was proud of every single one of his students. Now, for our culinary leaders that are reading this, your training wheels have been taken off.   Chef is looking for you to take all those years of training and pass that knowledge onto the next group. YOU are his legacy!  YOU are responsible for ensuring Chef Ed Musto is never forgotten!

    Frato's continues to operate as normal, albeit a bit understaffed right now. This is a testament to Chef's hard work and the leaders we have built from within with our Culinary Program. Chef helped build a business from the ground up that will continue on because of his hard work and sacrifice.

    As long as I'm in charge, Frato's will be a Chef-driven restaurant that contributes to the community as much as possible. We will always highlight talented young Chefs and in time, we will memorialize Chef Ed on our dining room wall. His Chef Coat will be framed and placed on our wall for everyone to remember what Frato's was and what it will always be...a Creative Culinary Kitchen that is designed to give back to the community as much as possible.

    You'll never be forgotten at Frato's. I already miss our daily conversations. We spoke every single day for over 6 years, and I didn't expect that to end so soon. This will always be your home, and someday Wyatt and Marshall will see what you built with pride.

    Love,


    Michael Kudrna
    Frato's Culinary Kitchen
    President

     

  • 3 comments

    This was a beautiful tribute to chef ed, And i thank you. You gave his children a wonderful remembrance of their father that they will appreciate when they are older. It also was very nice of you to have us at your place for a memorial for ed. Yes he is gone way to soon, and yes he will be missed dearly. But you can rest assure, hes looking down from heaven with a smart a** comment and a big smile on his face! My family and i thank you!

    Reply

    Absolutely wonderful, heartfelt tribute to a wonderful man. He showed my son his love of culinary, willing to help him, and others, in any way possible. We used Frato's many times to cater lunches, Black Friday pizzas, every time nothing but high compliments for the chef. He will be missed by many. Deepest sympathy to his family and the Frato's family. ❤

    Reply

    This was our first time at Fratos and the place is amazing the food is beyond amazing and the people there were wonderful, I found out tonight that their friend chef Ed had passed I was heartbroken to hear that at such a young age, we our sending our love and prayers to the frato family as well as chef Ed family R.I.P I may not of gotten to meet you but I heard so much from your pizza family that I already know you

    Reply