Chef Q&A: Michael Petitto

Michael Petitto, 54, is originally from Amite, La., where he owned and operated his family's restaurant, Spitale's, from 2002-2012. Spitale's was originally opened in 1921, by Sam Spitale, Michael's grandfather.  Michael is the son of the late Frank and Frances Petitto. He is married to Lori Petitto of Amite, La., and they have a total of six children combined. Michael has four adult children – Michael, Chris, Andy and Kasey. Lori has two adult daughters, Christine and Mikki. They have four grandchildren, Peyton, Cameron, Ty, and Olivia. Michael teamed up with the original owner of Dat Dog and together, they opened Dis & Dem in Mid City. When they were approached about a location in the French Quarter, they expanded. While in New Orleans, Dis & Dem won several different awards such as best outside dining, top 3 best burger in New Orleans, and best new restaurant in New Orleans.

Michael now calls Hattiesburg home and says that he has met so many great people here in the area. He recently said, "Without the love and support of the community, we wouldn't be where we are today". For a while, it didn't look like Dis & Dem would survive the road construction and would probably have closed back in February, had it not been for the love and support of our customers. Michael would like to thank everyone for coming out and supporting Dis & Dem when he needed it the most. That just proves that the company made the right choice when expanding to Hattiesburg.

What’s one ingredient that you can't live without? Tony’s & Garlic.

What’s your favorite type of music to listen to when cooking? Oldies.

If you could cook for anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?  My mother and father.

What’s your favorite ethnic cuisine? Italian.

What’s the strangest request you’ve ever had from a diner?  Cook with no seasoning and no bread.

What’s the best part about being a chef? Creativity.

What’s the most challenging part of being a chef? Time limitations.

If not a chef in the Pine Belt, what city would you like to work in? New Orleans.

What’s your favorite “guilty pleasure” food? Strawberries and chocolate.

Who is/was your food mentor? My mother.

What’s your favorite food to cook? Italian, burgers and dogs.

Sweet or savory?  Savory.

Mild or spicy? Mild.

Wine or beer? Beer.

Salt or pepper? Pepper.

Red beans or gumbo?  Can’t live without either.

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