Culinary Beginnings & Influences
My passion for cooking began at an early age, as a child in a culinarily diverse home. Dad grew up in a Ukrainian household on the South side of Chicago and Mom was born in Italy and raised in Argentina. They grew up pretty simply. Not a lot of fancy, frilly or over the top.
Some of the fondest memories I have are of both my Grandmothers and it was because of 2 dishes; Pasta Bolognase and Golumpki. Both very simple comfort food dishes but both, very delicious. They bring me back to the time when families actually spent time at the dinner table and eating a proper meal instead of glued to a T.V. or iPad. Today, I am even guilty of this or even worse, shoveling down my food or not eating at all. This is the curse of a chef.
I guess I find myself reverting back to, maybe not these dishes, but more simple comfort foods. Lately, my menus have been all over the map from getting super technical with ingredients, prep and mise…. to again, simple foods. Good, clean, organic simple foods and dishes. Bringing back the memories of a life what was once pretty simple is the direction I always find myself pushing towards, grassroots cooking. The classics. All cuisines.
Being that I was trained French but have the Italian and eastern European influence reflects in my trends of dishes in my arsenal. The last few months has been Tikka Masala and Gumbos. Both are similar in technique but completely different in flavor profile.
Going back to early influences… My Nonna (that’s Grandma in Italian) was really the one who got me super interested in cooking. For most cooks, one of the reasons we do what we do is to make people happy. Food is super powerful in that way, a common ground of the masses. We all have different tastes but one thing for sure is, we all need food and it satisfies us.