Making Meals that Bring People TogetherNovember 26, 2018
I started cooking in my early 20s. I was barbecuing a salmon, and I thought I should probably get a little fancier with my approach. I had a cookbook there for some reason, and there was a very simple recipe. You just pour some mustard, pour some honey and squeeze a lemon in there, and voilà, you have an amazing sauce. My guests were really impressed, and I thought, well, I’m a cook now.
My family immigrated here from Italy, and we always had marvellous, marvellous food. So once I realized I was a wonderful chef, having made that salmon, I turned to my mother and I said, how do you make, say, meatballs? My mother never worked off of a recipe so I had to just pay close attention to what she did. Pretty soon I was making meatballs and I was making eggplant parmesan and all sorts of things. No one makes better eggplant parmesan than I do. It tastes like a soufflé. You can eat it with just a fork, without a knife, it is so tender and so delicious. It’s my signature dish.
For most of my life, cooking has been my way of bringing people together. I have lots and lots of dinner parties at my home where I do all of the cooking. It’s a form of relaxation for me. My dinner parties usually range from 10 to 30 people. I usually make four or five dishes throughout the day. I like to be left alone in the kitchen with my music until the very end where I put everybody to work.
I like to have everybody hang around the kitchen, not sitting at the table—everybody has to be standing around drinking wine and having conversation, and I like it very loud. It’s always a mad scramble at the end, so that’s when I solicit everybody to help. They really enjoy getting involved. I yell at people—and they enjoy being yelled at.
(As told to BCBusiness magazine. December 14, 2016)