The idea of cuisine being a passion, career, or art form had not occurred to me until I was in college, even after years of cooking for my family’s casual restaurant. At that time I was searching for something to which I could devote myself entirely, but no subject or discipline seemed to provide any sort of genuine satisfaction.
One breezy night in the autumn of 2009 my father had invited me to dinner at the renowned Gramercy Tavern in New York City, my first experience of truly fine dining. It was during this meal that I first noticed the beauty and intention of a composed dish. That very night I was searching Google restlessly to try and gain a greater understanding of the culture of fine cuisine; Seasonality?… Molecular gastronomy?… Farm-to-table?… El Bullli?… Ramps?…It has been a very interesting three years since those sleepless nights spent wondering if I was crazy, or if I really was feeling the undeniable urge to pursue the life of a chef.
When I set out into the world of the kitchen I was never surprised by the long hours or intense physical and mental pressure (And burns), which is the very nature of this career, because my earlier experience had prepared me for that. The surprises came in other ways and all of which reinforced my feeling that I was born on this planet to be a chef! At first it was adrenaline, or the intense passion I felt to always produce food to the best of my ability, no matter how daunting the demand was. Secondly, immersing myself in food culture allowed me to realize the great wealth that lies in the traditions of my Italian American culture. Suddenly every holiday became a truly magical event where I gathered invaluable inspiration and sought to retain as much of my cultural heritage as I could from my elders. It is in these moments that I catch brief glimpses that define who I am in the world; what I eat on Christmas Eve today is the same as what my great-grandparents ate on their first Christmas Eve in America. Salut! Another surprise is what I have learned about myself after spending some time “on the line”. I have come to realize that I am unique; I am inherently different from the majority of the population. When a normal man wants to enjoy a wonderful Friday night out at a great restaurant and impress his possible future ex-wife. I want to be the guy sweating over the grill in the back making sure that his, just like every other patron’s swordfish is cooked perfectly. Because, the treasure that is good food needs to be shared, that’s why!
Ultimately I strive every day to hone my cooking techniques and acumen with the goal of someday being able to truly express my self, my feelings, and my experiences through the medium of food. This, I know takes years of silent devotion and dedicated service in the path of the masters who have gone before us.
Dig In !