July 7th, 2018
Talk Nerdy to Me!
Being in the presence of a great Chef is always an honor. The intensity, the sensitivity, and artistry with which they approach their work is inspiring, and always somewhat intimidating. Their attention to detail, the care they use in the creation of a dish, begins far before you gaze at your plate. ONK had the opportunity to eat at the house of world-renowned Chef/Salumi master/Author Paul Bertolli, to eat a meal, and watch a concert by Grammy-nominated Quartet San Francisco.
We sat with Chef Bertolli to discuss what it takes to make world-class, delicious food. All though what he said makes perfect sense, the simplistic views may surprise you. Sometimes, when it comes to good food, as in life, the most obvious answers, are the right ones.
It begins with ingredients. Not organic this or that, people get bogged down at the grocery store. Chef Bertolli grows his ingredients in one of the most beautiful, and frankly, functional gardens I’ve ever stepped in. Beautiful and bountiful tomatoes, grown from seed, La Ratte potatoes, specifically bred and grown to make the smoothest, delicious mashed potatoes, leaks, herbs, etc etc. He shakes hands with the farmers that raise the pigs he uses. Knowing WHERE your food comes from does not mean Safeway. It means choosing pigs by hand, and knowing that the soil where your spinach was grown, was amended with red worm castings and bat guano, and not some unpronounceable chemicals.
In cooking, as in classical music, and, life I’m learning, the magic happens in the constant attention to detail, to the feel, look, and desired intention of our actions. I consider myself a foodie, and so, found myself surrounded with nuance, and beautiful thought to how Bertolli’s guests would enjoy every bite, chronologically to the very end. Carefully calculated madness. Strikingly contrasted colors, textures, flavors working together in harmony, paired so deliberately, it even worked with the music. Fresh, nutritious and bright, salty and sweet, it was all there, a well-rounded meal in every sense, for every sense. When I asked him about what we were eating, I don’t remember what he said, not because it wasn’t of note, but because it was as beautiful as a Shakespearean sonnet, from farm to plate, and back, like a fragment of a dream you wish you could recall once you are conscious.
I could go on, and on, about his resume, but the love for what he does, is testament in it’s own right. Speaking to him, you can tell he is a master. Becoming good at anything is inspiring, but as the Chef told me” it’s when you love what you do, that others will love it as well,” and that’s the lesson he lives by. Our conversation has changed the way I am thinking about making meals. Creating an experience, not a plate. Teleporting a guest from the ocean to a pasture, to a backyard and then to their grandmother’s kitchen table, is an incredible feat. Being true to tradition and to one’s self is inevitably where the art lies. Chef Paul Bertolli did all of that. We at OperaNation Keto: consider ourselves lucky to have been a part of it. Thank you Chef.