About the Chef
My friend and I traveled from the top to the toe of the boot eating and driving our way through Italian country sides in Tuscany to the wild streets of Naples and down to the Baroque splendor of Palermo. We shopped and prepared our own meals in Venice and Bologna and even went back to Tuscany for a luxurious week cooking under the guidance of London based Tuscan chef Alvaro Maccioni. I came back and cooked everything and anything my clients wanted from jambalaya to enchiladas to Kung Pao chicken but my heart was in the Italian kitchen.
Since my first trip to Italy in 1972 I knew that I wanted it to someday be a part of my life. From 1998 to 2005 I made the trip eight times and that year I packed my bags and headed to Tuscany. I settled in a tiny mountain town called Stia, the first village that the great Arno River runs through. And there in this beautiful area called the Casentino I spent the next 7 years. With my own little vegetable garden, and the town's butcher and baker as part of my morning errands I embraced the simplicity of Tuscan cuisine. Not only was I learning from the revered cookbooks found in every Tuscan kitchen but I discovered there were opportunities to learn even more from just listening to the ladies at the beauty parlor, the merchants at the market, the fishmonger, the nonna next door, her son and his wife, the mail man.Everybody talked about food- while they prepared it, while they ate it, while standing in line at the post office. And of course, everyone had their own version of the truth convinced that theirs was the only way. I was often told during my years there that Italians don't eat to live. They live to eat. I loved watching Italian families sit down to eat and whether it was pizza or pasta it was always a special occasion.
Now, I'd like to bring this regional cuisine and others I've discovered in my travels into your home kitchen. These elegantly simple but sophisticated recipes will create the flavors and capture the soul of the Italian kitchen in your own home. It just might be the next best thing to getting on a plane and going over there yourself.