..."Chef" is a term our clients and friends seem to enjoy using, I prefer "cook".
Growing up I remember almost every meal was a family gathering, most times it was just the 6 of us, but occasionally the whole family would get together, 50 or so Aunts, Uncles, Cousins.... insanity! At our home there were what seemed like weekly dinner parties, some planned - most impromptu. My parent's entertaining of friends and family seemed like 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 but great 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. At first we held 3 parties each summer season that grew over a few years to 200+ guests, and an increasing number of smaller dinner parties. In 2005 we launched a week long Leadership Vacation beach side retreat at Emerald Isle North Carolina, where we cooked the evening meals, and included our guests in the fun and joy of The Italian Dinner Party .
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.
One day 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 somehow felt a deep connection to my roots. It was "authentic" both to Italian tradition and more importantly for me, to my soul. I knew someday I would have to experience this connection to the countryside of Italy first hand.
Like too many Italian Americans, our parents and Grandparents never talked much about "the old country", where in Italy we were from, if we had relatives living there, what life was like for our family. Things I longed to discover, but I never actually considered traveling there.
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 a week 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 Cerreto Alpi just shy of 100 years after she had left. 6 hours of back roads and 1000' 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... 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. This magical place where a young Domenica decided to take her daughter and follow her husband, leaving behind all connections, immediate family, comforts, and familiar surroundings to bravely face a new world of opportunities... all of it for the belief in my (and all of us in the Juliana family) future. 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...
Bisbigliare... the Italian word I feel that describes Osteria di Giuliano and our philosophy of what we do.
The universe we perform in seems to be overflowing with culinary professionals desperate to make a name for themselves... shouting, pushing for innovation, and searching for the newest trend. We whisper. Continually reminding ourselves to remain rooted in Italian tradition. One of the most treasured compliments we have received came from a self-appointed local food critic attending one of our Osteria style dinners, stating that he could describe our cuisine in one word... "Singular".
We really are not excited to see what cool things we can do with an ingredient, not obsessed with creating layer upon layer of flavors. In our world each single simple ingredient is our focus. We are striving to bring out the most flavor of each ingredient, and we like the way each one tastes. We whisper!
From that first authentic meal, we have been blessed with clients finding us, and it has become an all consuming passion... Osteria style!
Some of our inspiration:
Cesare Casella I found out later... the 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