Word of Mouth

Estrela Bartending School's Tom Lucas keeps his fridge kid-friendly

While by day you'll find him teaching aspiring bartenders how to mix up a martini and what garnish to put in a White Russian, you won't necessarily find Tom Lucas honing his cocktail-shaking skills at home. When he's not working, Lucas, who owns Estrela Bartending School, is likely at home serving hot dogs and Capri Suns to his two kids. Unless you count milk or grape Kool-Aid as mixers, the only alcohol you'll typically find in Lucas's fridge is the random bottle of wine, and even that is likely as not going to end up as salad dressing he says.

No stranger to the restaurant biz, Lucas, a Greeley native, managed the Cherry Creek Grill for six years and was the general manager of the Wellshire Inn for a time. With aspirations to open his own restaurant when he left Wellshire in 2007, he instead ended up with an entire bartending school. While he'd still like to open his own restaurant, with the economy making investors difficult to come by, Lucas is content teaching bartending and wine courses.

The school's name is inspired Dom Pérignon's exclamation to his brother, upon tasting the champagne he had created, "Come quick, I'm tasting stars!" "Estrela" is the Italian word for "star."

At home, he does most of the cooking. His kids' (ages four and six) needs and preferences dictate much of the contents of his fridge: two types of milk (with fat for the kids, without for him and his wife), yogurt, juice and lots of tortillas.

"I don't go out too much to restaurants," he says. "We go out maybe twice a month."

Because the family does so much home cooking, they've always got leftovers, even some more "adult" leftovers. Lucas says there's some baby back ribs in there, along with some of the family's favorite (and Lucas's specialty), carbonara pizza.

What's that, you say? Carbonara pizza? That's right. Lucas starts with a thin crust (though tortillas work too) topped with pancetta, ham, mozzarella and eggs. "The kids call it 'volcano pizza' because they like to crack the eggs in the blobs of cheese," he says.

Overall, this is a pretty typical day in the life of his fridge, Lucas says. "There's basic stuff, like hot dogs for the kids, to pretty gourmet things," he says. "I do a lot of different things."

The about-to-be-dressing wine, by the way, is a pinot noir.

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Jessica Chapman
Contact: Jessica Chapman