Usually the brothers dine out with their parents, Lisa and Tom Regnante of Ellicott City, or with their grandfather.
“I’m not surprised at all that they are doing this, because they are both very good at expressing themselves,” says Gueli, a resident of Wilde Lake. “We’re an Italian family. We eat together as often as possible, and food is a very common subject.”
A 40-year resident of Columbia, Gueli remembers the early days when Howard County residents had few restaurant choices.
“Forty years ago Roy’s sandwich restaurant was the big thing,” he recalls of the former eatery near Snowden River Parkway. “From there I’ve watched restaurants evolve in Howard County. Now whatever you’re hungry for, you can find it here.”
That means the brothers have plenty of subjects to write about. On occasion, their blog extends beyond Howard County, including a stop at the Eggspectation in Montreal during a vacation.
“We like the one in Maryland, and when we were on vacation we thought we’d try one in Canada, too,” says Thomas.
The blog has expanded its presence to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and the brothers are considering guest bloggers as well. Their 100th blog should happen around the end of the year, and they’re currently devising a unique way to celebrate.
Kathy Zimmerman, agriculture development manager for the Howard County Economic Development Authority, says she invited the Dudes to serve as Iron Chef judges at this year’s fair because of their unique perspective.
“This year’s Iron Chef featured 4-H clubs, and the brothers did a great job of asking insightful questions and giving really good feedback to the teams,” she says. “Their voice is important, because often when young people hear something from a peer they accept it as the truth. That’s easy to do with the Regnante brothers because you can really feel the passion behind what they are doing.”
The brothers may have dined in restaurants all over the area, but they are hesitant to name favorites.
“You know what’s really good? My mom’s chicken marsala,” says Thomas.
“And she makes a great flounder with asparagus,” says Charles, a founder of Centennial High’s Italian Club.
Mom Lisa says it’s been fun to watch her sons become dedicated to a shared interest.
“We’re so proud of them, and it’s been so exciting to see their idea take off and grow,” she says. “They’re truly following their passion, and food seems to be something in their DNA. They eat breakfast in the morning, and when they’re done the first thing they’ll ask is, ‘What’s for dinner?’ ”
Blog posts about dishes like crab-stuffed broiled flounder, baked clams, beef Bourguignon and marinated pork (Masitas de Puerco Cuba Libre) reveal that the brothers aren’t your typical chicken-tenders-and-fries teenage diners. The brothers didn’t always have such a developed palate, but their parents laid the foundation for it by not catering to picky tendencies.
“At meals, they ate what we ate,” Lisa says. “We never made separate kids meals for them. Dining together is important to us and when we are together, we all eat the same thing.”
The Dudes’ friends and classmates have been supportive of the blog, but the best boost they’ve gotten so far happened while they were attending a local blogger party earlier this year at Stanford Grill.
“Someone we didn’t know at the party recognized us from our picture online,” Thomas recalls. “They were like, ‘It’s the Two Dudes!’ ”
“Yeah, that was great,” Charles remembers. “It was the first time I thought, ‘Oh, wow! We’re important!’ ”