Food makes me happy. Just over a year ago, life decided to take a roughish turn. All I remember is a blur of hours spent lying on the floor, staring at the ceiling, the dog licking my face and an emptiness in my stomach I thought I could never fill. My body got so thin that most mornings I felt the scale was playing some sick joke on me – mind you, my legs looked fabulous once again but my face was a different matter. Drawn, gaunt, the only visible benefit of this previously unknown emaciated me was the newly discovered Lauren Hutton cheekbones but everything else screamed an endless series of sleepless nights no concealer could ever make right.
Then work intervened in the manner of a project deadline. My boss had got it into her mind that I should come up with a dish that reflected the scientific theme of the dinner for 200 people we were scheduled to cater in a few months. The lecture’s title was “What if everything is not what it seems to be?”. The guests would be mainly scientists, male and geeky – I think – although when you work in a kitchen you seldom get to have a good look at those who gobble your food. Anyway, yes, I am a chef. A Pastry Chef. An Executive Pastry Chef to be exact, at a fancy operation, in a fancy museum in Los Angeles. This is my second career, one I never would have imagined but one that pleases my mother as she can finally understand what I do. Food on a plate as opposed to days spent on the phone and drawing marketing plans for rock bands she had never heard of. I was already “old” when I became a chef and I never thought this kind of life would suit me – the clamoring noise of a kitchen, the long hours, the split second decisions, the army mentality, the sometimes brutal physicality of the job – all details that would not have phased me in my 20’s or 30’s but in my 40’s cannot be taken for granted. Still, I would not trade the creative freedom, the teamwork, the tangible satisfaction of watching a complete stranger savor a piece of something that hours before was only in my mind. I would not trade my tired legs for a corner office ever again.
But back to my project. I had to put my sorrows and tears on hold and dig deep somewhere – and dig I did and, together with my talented team, we created a burger and fries made of brioche, chocolate pudding and brownie crumbs , pastry cream mayo, mango cheddar cheese, strawberry ketchup that would have fooled Ronald MacDonald.
That is when I knew I could survive the catastrophe. This is the blog of that journey. I am by no means out of the woods nor am I trying to give upbeat Oprahish advice on why everything happens for a reason, because it doesn’t. Sometime shit is random and it’s the randomness that brings people together that interests me. I will share my concoctions, obscure and not to so obscure food facts and food history along the way but this is not meant to be strictly a cooking blog. It’s just a tool to stay connected to friends near and far, but mainly far, and maybe making new ones.
We all have obsessions and the one for food is my anchor and my mission is to age, if not gracefully, with a hell of a lot of fun and some integrity.
If you are wondering what the photo is – well, it’s proof that a sweet tooth runs in the family. That is my aunt Vittoria’s idea of “stop by for coffee after dinner”…