About Passion, Ingredients, & History
"The Art of the Italian Dinner Party"
The countryside of Italy simultaneously embraces and exudes a slower pace of life. Immersed in simple natural beauty for generations the people have gained a shared understanding of what is most important in this world. Nothing evokes passion more so than meals shared with family and friends.
"It's not just about eating... life is too short to just eat. Make every meal a celebration of life - DINE! Gather the people you love around you, share food, wine,
and time together!”
This is a place where even everyday meals are special. Each deserving the time and care to prepare them, and these dishes require special ingredients... authentic both in manner and location with respect to tradition. After all the people they are made for make them worthy of this special attention.
This is a place where the people and their cuisine are married to the land. "Farm to Fork", "Sustainable", "Seasonal", "Organic", "Local" are not recent fads, cool buzz phases, or political statements. It is the way life has been for millennia.
Out of season goods picked green and shipped a thousand miles won't do. Italians eat local, fresh, and in season. While it is in season they preserve what they can’t eat now, or simply do without until the next season. There is good reason why the slow food movement originated in Italy not far from our maternal ancestral home. When the world started to develop a desire for healthier better tasting foods they didn't have to look far to find where they have always been.
While there have been many "more efficient" and “yield maximization” farming practices developed, almost none improve taste, and all of them sacrifice nutritional value. These practices by the very design are to get livestock and produce to market faster, create larger and more abundant harvests, and growing goods that are visually consistent.
But intelligent crop production and creating great ingredients is a major investment, not only in dollars but in time, effort, and emotional commitment. Heritage breeds grow 3 times slower, but taste much better... heirloom vegetables are lower yielding, smaller, and many times less visually consistent, but taste better... not to mention they boost to our immune systems and overall health… and so it is with all of what we consume. And nowhere does the general population demand quality, freshness, and authenticity more than in Italy.
We seek out suppliers that fit this philosophy of great ingredients first. Please consider doing business with our resources:
Gustiamo Foods - Enter "Giuliano" in the gusti-code for a custom discount!!
"Chef" is a term our clients and friends seem to enjoy using, I prefer "cook".
Like too many Italian Americans, our parents and Grandparents never talked much about "the old country": where in Italy they were from, why they left, what and who they missed, if we had relatives living there, what life was like for our family.
I remember almost every meal was a family gathering, most times it was just the 6 of us as we lived 10 hours from the core of our Italian family, but occasionally the whole family would get together, 50 or so Aunts, Uncles, Cousins... Insanity! At our home there were regular dinner parties, some planned - most impromptu. My parent's entertaining of friends and family was a natural occurrence, and as children we were always involved and included.
My father in his business would use a meal at our home to facilitate meetings, negotiations, or even conflict resolutions. Bringing people together for a simple home cooked meal lubricates open heart-felt communication, and fosters deeper understanding... of course a few glasses of Italian vino never hurt either.
My wife and I used this same strategy in my consulting business for years, and we came to discover we had a natural affinity for entertaining and an intuitive understanding of the art of the Italian dinner party... the food, the wine, the music. While we had constant dinner parties, we started hosting three parties each summer season that grew over a few years to included some 200+ guests. Talk about on the job training. In 2005 we launched a week long Leadership Vacation Beach-Side Retreat for 16 people where part of the program included the attendees in the fun and joy of preparing the group evening meals .
In 2009 I took a break from the consulting field, disillusioned with what I call the modern corporate business ethic.
A short time later, a client requested we travel to their winter home to cook a formal meal for their 10th anniversary. At first I rejected the request as folly, there was a good Italian restaurant just down the street from his building, but his continued insistence wore us down and peaked my interest. The trip was simultaneously nerve racking and exhilarating.
Then while at the dentist I came across an article in Martha Stewart Magazine by Cesare Casella from Lucca, Tuscany. Cesare was discussing the meaning of "true" Italian cooking and shared his recipe for "Bistecca di Miele con Pepernato"... I felt compelled by the story to make the meal, and while preparing the dish I felt a deep connection to this dish. It was "authentic"…. both to Italian tradition and more importantly, for the first time to something inside me.
In 2010, thanks to the same very insistent friends, we set out on the adventure of a lifetime... a trip to Italy to study food and wine. After almost 2 weeks of wine, food, and Tuscan countryside, Lisa and I borrowed the rental car for a Saturday to search for, travel to, and find my father's mother's birthplace… returning to her village of Cerreto Alpi just shy of 100 years after she had left. 6 hours of back roads and 1000-foot switch back drop offs we arrived to find almost no one in the village spoke English, and I do not "parle Italiano molto bene!"
Regardless, it didn't take long to find family, explain who we were, and quickly become the center of attention. After lunch we were invited to walk to the very house my Grandmother Domenica was born in, a house we came to discover was the birthplace of our direct lineage since 560 AD. This is the place of our roots... the place as my "Zio" Renato Tronconi described as, "il Casa di Sangue" (the house of our blood). It was a sobering moment to stand on the threshold stone, worn down by centuries of human feet. That day in a remote Apennine village we reconnected with our Italian famiglia, and Lisa and I fell in love with the people and the lifestyle of the Italian countryside.
We returned to the US now somewhat changed. In comparison to the food traditions of the Italian countryside our culinary world seems to be crowded with culinary professionals desperate to make a name for themselves... shouting, pushing for the unusual, and trying to create the newest trend.
We really are not motivated to see what cool things we can do with an ingredient, not obsessed with creating layer upon layer of flavors. Our focus is simple, striving to bring out the most flavor of each ingredient.
Cesare Casella I found out later that my family's village is just a few kilometers from Cesare's home, and we had passed his family's home and restaurant on the way from Lucca to the village after taking a wrong turn.... Fate?
http://www.dalpescatore.com/lang_en/ The Italian chef Nadia Santini of the restaurant Dal Pescatore is COMPLETELY SELF TAUGHT. Nevertheless, in 1996, she became the first Italian female chef to be awarded three Michelin stars. And, as if that prestigious honor was not enough, last year she was crowned the “World's Best Female Chef". Nadia Santini - http://www.italymagazine.com/featured-story/talking-nadia-santini-worlds-best-female-chef:
The Late John Pinette on eating in France and Italy - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AX00Tr7n3vY