Locally renowned chef Anthony Tong recently launched Chef’s Kitchen Family Meals, serving carry-out scratch-made family dinners from the Heirloom. Tong has been a staple of the Owensboro restaurant industry for over 4 decades and is ecstatic about the new business venture.
The concept is simple. Call 270-314-4547 by noon Tuesday through Saturday to order an entree with multiple side and dessert options. Then, arrive between 3 and 6 p.m. at 1531 Frederica Street to pick it up and take it home to enjoy.
While Tong operates the kitchen, dishing out his famous meatloaf, cajun gumbo, and stir-fried shrimp, his son Trevor – a partner at City Walk – handles many of the business elements.
“The inspiration came from our experiences at City Walk during the pandemic,” Trevor said. “Our only option to stay alive was these family carry-out meals. My brother, Travis, was the mastermind. Even with the pandemic subsiding, we saw no reason not to continue the concept.”
Regular entree options include shrimp scampi, sliced BBQ pork loin, baked lasagna, chicken pot pie, country fried steak with gravy, southern-style fried catfish, and baked spaghetti with meatballs. Sides include mashed potatoes, green beans, sweet corn, and peas and carrots, while desserts include a chocolate cream cake or peach cobbler.
“It’s only 7 to 8 dollars per person, which is tough to beat, especially since everything is homemade,” Trevor said.
Tong traces his time in the kitchen to the original Gabe’s Restaurant near the once-iconic Gabe’s Tower. The restaurant seated 1,200 people, and he began cooking there when he was 15.
“Gabe’s was famous all over the United States,” Tong said. “It wasn’t nothing for Bob Hope to fly in and eat there. Very few hotel owners had a restaurant, attire, and a shopping center – he owned four square blocks.”
He worked there for nearly a decade, offering his take on some dishes and regularly assisting in the catering department. From there, he branched on his own, working in everything from fast food to fine dining, sometimes working for himself and sometimes for others.
Some locals might recall his well-known establishments in Ohio County, like the French Quarter and Brick House Pizza. Others will remember Chef’s Kitchen, a family-style buffet on Hailfax Square near Red Lobster.
“I’ve had a small hotdog cart, a food truck, and restaurants, and it’s all got me to where I am right now,” he said. “There’s been a lot of learning, a lot of failing, success, and a lot of selling. Everywhere I’ve been, I always try to capture the best – something unique that nobody else has.”
Tong graciously leans on his sons for assistance in the ever-evolving digital world.
“We know our dad is a great chef, but when you’re a great chef, you don’t have time to tell that story with social media and marketing,” Trevor said. “Our dad is a great cook, and we know the food is top-notch, so we don’t have to promote too hard.”
The first restaurant Tong owned was Chef Anthony’s Gourmet Restaurant in Williamsburg Square, which later moved to Lincoln Mall (now Owensboro Christian Church). Recently, he’s spent time in the kitchen at City Walk or out front doing cooking and performing flambe style.
Earlier this year, he launched a food truck, much to the delight of Ohio and Daviess County citizens. However, he said his efforts quickly ended after suffering a stroke because of some type of poisoning caused by a malfunction with the truck’s generator.
While his health hindered his ability to cook, it didn’t take him long to rebound, which has been the story of his career.
“I’m back now, and I’m doing what I love: cooking family meals for people,” Tong said.
And while these family meals will be a mainstay for Tong, he said he still has some other tricks up his sleeve.
To learn more about Chef’s Kitchen, click here for his Facebook.