Schenectady County

SCCC culinary founder Casola mourned

Schenectady County Community College officials and alumni are mourning the loss of Matteo A. Casola,

Schenectady County Community College officials and alumni are mourning the loss of Matteo A. Casola, the founder of the culinary program and dining room namesake.

Casola, who died Friday at the Glendale Home at the age of 87 following a long illness, developed the culinary program in 1969 and served as a professor and chairman of the Hotel Technology/Culinary Arts Program until 1991.

Casola oversaw the program from its humble beginnings with 28 students in a small kitchen at the YMCA, which contained a hot plate and two tables. Other classes were held in the Schenectady Armory, according to April 17, 1991 article in The Daily Gazette about his retirement from the college.

Now, the program has grown to hundreds of students.

“He was a huge part of getting that program started. It was a big loss when he left,” said SCCC graduate Angelo Mazzone, whose businesses include the Glen Sanders Mansion in Scotia, Aperitivo Bistro in downtown Schenectady, Angelo’s 677 Prime and Mazzone Management catering.

Mazzone said Casola instilled in him the basics of cooking and was instrumental in launching his career.

“He’s always followed everything I’ve done,” Mazzone said. “He had a great personality. He was always up. I’ve never really seen him down. He was always filled with hospitality. I think he was an all-around great guy.”

David Brough, professor and chairman of the Hotel, Culinary Arts and Tourism Department, said that Casola was a father figure to students and staff, getting to know all very personally.

“He was a retired colonel in the Army but he really treated the department like a family. He really cared about people. He really cared about the students. He had a big heart.”

Brough, who got to know Casola as both a student and a colleague, said he was a mentor and a large influence on how he runs the department. Like Casola, Brough stresses working together for a common goal. As a boss, Brough said Casola did not believe in micromanaging his employees but once he had confidence in them, he gave them freedom.

“You’d share what you thought about how a course should be run. He’d let you run with it,” he said.

Casola really captures the American dream, according to Brough.

“He was born in Italy and came to this country. He was a colonel in the service. He got his master’s degree in educational administration. He’s the epitome that if you work hard enough, you can do anything,” Brough said.

Casola was drafted into the Army in 1944 and served in World War II. Although discharged in 1946, he became a commissioned officer in 1950 and spent another two decades in the service, rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Medical Field Service Corps. He was awarded the WWII Victory Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, the Army Medal of Honor and the EAME Campaign Medal.

He received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from City University of New York in 1956 and a master’s degree in educational administration from the State University of New York at Albany in 1973.

When he left active duty, he worked in restaurants such as Sardi’s, Hotel Roosevelt and the Tarrytown Hilton, according to a Gazette profile. He also served as manager of the Scarsdale Restaurant in Westchester, executive manager of the Officers Club at Fort Bragg and catering manager for Glove Canteen Inc. of New York City.

In 1965, he spent four years teaching food service at Sullivan County Community College before coming to SCCC.

Another notable accomplishment during Casola’s tenure was an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records for the college having the longest sandwich in the world. A trench was dug across the campus to cook the loaf, which measured 1,256 feet, 23⁄4 inches long, according to the Gazette article.

He published three books “Successful Mass Cookery and Volume Feeding,” “Casola’s Cooking Delights” and “Successful Catering and Volume Feeding.”

Casola also received many honorary awards, including a special service citation from the Food Service Executive Association.

After retiring full time from SCCC, he spent the next 10 years working with the dietary department at the Glendale Home and ultimately became dietary director. Casola returned to SCCC in 2003 and taught business classes as an adjunct faculty member up until his death.

He was affiliated with several organizations, including the Knights of Columbus, Sons of Italy, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Reserve Officer Association Rotary International, American Association of United Professors/Junior Colleges, Order of the World War Officers of the USA and the American Culinary Association.

In 1986, he received the highest citation from the American Red Cross for serving six years as the chairman of the National Disaster Feeding Committee.

He was predeceased by his first wife, Rose, to whom he was married for 45 years. He is survived by his wife Gloria, who he married in 2002.

Funeral services will be held on Wednesday at 9 a.m. at the Glenville Funeral Home, 9 Glenridge Road and followed at 10 a.m. by a Mass of Christian Burial at Our Lady of Grace Church at 73 Midline Road, Ballston Lake. Calling hours will be held today from 5 to 8 p.m. at the funeral home.

Interment will be with full military honors at St. Anthony’s Cemetery in Glenville.

Memorial contributions in Casola’s name may be made to the American Cancer Society. Online condolences may be expressed at

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