Marc Vetri was not the only cook in the family when he was growing up:

His dad, Sal, a real estate investor and retired owner of a chain of jewelry shops, knows his way around the kitchen.

For 17 years now, Sal Vetri has been preparing a family meal for the Vetri workers, based on his signature meatballs. Former Inquirer columnist Rick Nichols interviewed Vetri six years ago and became entranced with Sal and the whole process. Nichols is now his righthand guy

On the eve of Sal's 80th birthday - it's in July - Marc Vetri commissioned a video to give people a look at the staff meal and its origins. "He will work harder than anyone," Marc Vetri says. "And I actually had to slow him down - 'Pop! Let the guys help you!'"

As for Sal's recipe, as provided by Vetri's Jeff Michaud and Brad Spence:

For the meatballs:

1/3 pound ground veal

1/3 pound ground pork

1/3 pound ground beef

1 slice white sandwich bread, torn

3/4 cups milk

1 egg

2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish

1/3 cup grated pecorino cheese

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 small clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

For the sauce:

1 32-ounce can of San Marzano tomatoes

2 cloves garlic crushed

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 bunch basil, chopped

1/4 cup olive oil

For the meatballs:

1. Combine the veal, pork, beef, bread, milk, egg, Parmesan, pecorino, parsley, salt, pepper, and garlic in a stand mixer fitted with the flat blade. Mix on medium-low speed for 1 minute.

2. Scoop out 1/8 cup pieces of meat and gently roll them between your hands into balls about the size of a golf ball. The meat will be soft, so don't compress it too much. Put the flour in a bowl and toss the meatballs in the flour as you work. Heat the grapeseed oil over medium heat in a large skillet and, working in batches, add the floured balls, cooking them until golden brown all over, 8 to 10 minutes total. The internal temperature should be about 155 degrees.

3. Divide the meatballs among plates; sprinkle with Parmesan and parsley. Makes about 20 1-ounce meatballs.

For the sauce:

Heat oil and garlic in a large heavy bottom pan until garlic is lightly browned. Crush tomatoes by hand and add to the oil. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add basil, chili flakes and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the seared meatballs and simmer for 20 minutes until meatballs are just cooked.